“I don’t know where your son is. He’s hiding in the garden, because he’s been bad.”
A brief description of our youngest son’s offense followed this greeting at the end of a long workday. The garden sure looked empty. Not a hair to be seen in all his usual haunts. He’s not at the side of the house, is he?
It took more than a glance down the narrow strip of ivy next to the house. All looked still as could be. But what about that single frond of calla lily down at the end? Why is it waving all by itself? Ah-ha! A glimpse of blond hair!
“Son?” No response. He wasn’t looking forward to this conversation. “Did you do something naughty?”
Pause. “Uh-huh.” He slowly appeared from behind the bushes.
“What did you do?”
“I just threw the rock at her feet!”
“Do you know what happens when you’re mean to your sister?”
“Don’t spank me hard!”
A brief moment of “appropriate consequences ensued, followed by a time of father-son reflection, with him sitting on my lap.
Pause… “I was born all messed up.”
“What? What do you mean?”
“God made me wrong.”
“Why do you say that?”
“Sometimes I want to be good, but sometimes I just do bad.”
“Do you know why you do bad things?”
A little nod, then under his breath, “Sin.”
“That’s right. And did you ever ask Jesus into your heart?”
“Good. And since Jesus is in our hearts, God won’t punish us for our sin. But do you know what we need to do when we sin?”
“We need to tell God we’re sorry for our sin and ask Him to help us be good.”
This God-given opportunity ended with 1 John 1:9 in action, as a tender, six-year-old heart came into the presence of his heavenly Father to ask – and to receive – forgiveness. This moment was a miracle.
We don’t just teach truth to our children. We train it into them, so it becomes the structure of their lives. We use routines, daily activities, opportunities, and intentional responses during those “teachable moments” to shape their view of reality, until truth becomes the framework of our child’s understanding. There is wisdom in Moses’ words.
These words, which I am commanding you today, shall be on your heart, and you shall teach them diligently to your sons and shall talk of them when you sit in your house and when you walk by the way and when you lie down and when you rise up. –Deuteronomy 6:6-7
My son’s time of confession made a difference. At first, he sensed the alienation that came with his sin and was frustrated that he couldn’t stop. Then he entered into Christ’s presence and found forgiveness. He understood for the first time that he didn’t have to be stuck with his sin. When he learned the way to be freed from sin, a weight was lifted. In his own six-year-old way, he lived out the reality of redemption.
At Lent, we have an opportunity. A teachable moment. At this time of year, the true awfulness of our sin comes into sharper focus. “Our God is a consuming fire” (Hebrews 12:29). It is a dreadful thing to come into His presence. Ask Isaiah about his terror in the heavenly temple (Isaiah 6:5). Ask Belshazzar what happened to him when he saw the handwriting on the wall – a message of divine judgment (Daniel 5:6). Uzzah was struck down for merely touching the ark of God (2 Samuel 6:6-7). Nadab and Abihu died because of an oversight (Leviticus 10:1-3). Unwittingly, they had defiled the holy things of God and suffered terrible consequences. Talk about alienation! No priest dared of his own will to go behind the temple veil into the Holy of Holies, for fear of sudden death. We dare not enter God’s presence flippantly. At Lent, we rehearse the reality that God is frightfully holy.
One night in the spring of the year AD 30, a young man knelt in a garden, trembling before the Lord. Of all men, this man had no reason to fear in the presence of His God. He was without blemish or fault. He deserved no punishment, yet that night, the Son submitted to the devastating judgment of His Father. During the next twenty-four hours, He suffered the unbearable. Pangs of rejection that no heart could bear tore His. Blows, insults, ridicule, and hate were hurled at Him. Thorns dug into His skull. Lashes ripped His back until His life began to drain away. Heavy beams bent His back, as He staggered toward His final destination, where nails ripped through the skin, flesh, and tendons of His hands and feet. There He died in public agony and humiliation.
Then it happened. In another part of the city, there was a sudden, unaccountable tearing sound. Temple functionaries must have rushed in to see what happened, and to their terror – and our eternal joy – they saw the veil of the temple, torn completely in two (Matthew 27:51). Nothing remained to prevent access into the most holy of places.
As Lent turns to Easter, make it a point to enter into the presence of God. Know that He is holy, and come pure. Remember the price Jesus paid, and come grateful. You won’t leave unchanged, so come yielded. But whatever you do, be sure to come. Enter with the audacity of a child, and understand – you’re taking part in a miracle.
— Dave Dussault