"This Is Not The Sinner You're Looking For..."
There is a scene that repeats itself frequently at our house. It typically follows one of my children making a decision that clearly breaks a house rule and possibly a state law. There is no innocent-until-proven-guilty. There is no representation granted. The deed is done and dad was a witness. Often I am standing IN THE ROOM as the events transpire. Nevertheless, the drama unfolds before me with the predictability of sitcom story line.
It starts with a pause. That's it, a simple pause. I begin the proceedings with a baseline question to establish the context for what will follow. It goes something like, “Honey, did would just you staple your sister's hair to the dog's collar and then throw the frisbee for the dog to fetch?” (the events of this blog are purely fictional. Any resemblance to actual deeds – past, present or future – is purely coincidental but kinda cool...) What happens next is “the pause”. Sometimes accompanied by a darting of the eyes, what is happening in this pivotal moment is part primal urge for self-preservation. Somewhere in the recesses of their yet forming minds is an escape hatch labeled, “It's not your fault.” After sufficient time elapses, the child's reasoning has pried open the escape hatch and jettisoned away from common logic to the safety of the outer orbit of excuses. The reply starts something like this, “Well, she...” You see what happened there, right? As I will certainly remind my young liege, that was an answer to a question I hadn't asked. All I wanted to know was, “did you do that?” However, the response was a fast-forward (or maybe more an end-around) through guilt and on to extenuating circumstance or possibly diminished mental capacity. I am reminded of our Genesis-father Adam in that reaction. You remember the scene following the disastrous decision to take the fruit, right? He and his wife were VERY aware that they had erred. They were suddenly filled with an emotion that was previously foreign to them – shame. When God enters the Garden again and confronts Adam (note the fact that a previously beautiful openness before the Father had been replaced by hiding from Him – always the product of sin), he asks, “Have you eaten of the tree of which I commanded you not to eat”? Adam - sounding eerily like my little future person - replies, “The woman whom you gave to be with me...” As if to say, “It's not MY fault! It's HERS! In fact, it's kind of YOURS since you gave her to me!” Like my child, Adam's problem is not comprehension of the facts, but an admission of guilt. The problem is, without “owning” our guilt, we will not arrive at confession and repentance. Without confession and repentance, we will never arrive at the restoration of the intimacy for which we were designed and for which we long.
In our scenario, my child and I will do a little conversational dance and finally arrive at the desired acceptance of the facts that I am after. Eventually, I will get my “yes”. From THERE I can instruct. From there I can help my child navigate the tenuous trail of offense and help them see where they veered off the path. One reminder that is often repeated in these moments is that they can't control what is done to them – they are only responsible for their actions in response. If a live lived to the praise of God's glory is the goal, then He must always be the one before our eyes. When we lose sight of that it is not typically because we are lazy but because something else has vexed our gaze. When we take our eyes of of the object of supreme worth (the glory of God) and place it on a poor, temporary substitute (our own sense of entitlement), then we find ourselves doing, saying and believing things that are “off the path” of righteousness. Like a classic male in traffic, we will never ask for directions unless we can admit that we are lost. Guilt is not meant to end in our wallowing in woe but in glorying in His grace. We'll not glory in His grace until we admit that we are in need of it.
Let us strive today to admit our guilt, receive His correction, praise Christ for receiving our punishment and glory in His grace.