Sin snaked its way into my home yesterday. Slippery-bellied and silver-tongued, it took me by surprise.
I am old enough to know better than to be surprised by sin. It is not my first time around the garden. It is not my first time standing under a tree, looking into the beady eyes of one who wants nothing but destruction for me. I should know better than to be surprised to find him lurking and to find myself listening.
But yesterday sin did not come for me. Sin was after my children, and I stood shocked by the underhandedness of it all. These are children. What a low-down and dirty thing to do, to come slithering into the playroom while I am busy about other things.
I should not have been surprised. I know enough to know that sin is no gentleman. He does not care if he hurts my feelings or harms my children.
This common thief of children’s hearts was all too willing to abandon the rules of engagement to go after the innocents. That has been his game all along. He lures with lies and covers with shame, and it all works so well that most of the damage is done before anyone even notices.
But this time, shame did not work. It only took one little child’s voice to open the door to truth and it all came tumbling out, ugly-faced and squinting from spending so much time in the dark. Sin. From the looks of its tangled coils, it had been there for quite some time.
My heart felt sick and heavy. I did not know what to do or how to do it. We talked about discipline, and I wondered if I had the strength to follow through with a punishment that seemed to be more a punishment for me than a penalty for them. For a brief moment, I actually felt a little sorry for myself because I was inconvenienced by it all. But then I recognized the hiss of an all-too-familiar foe, and I remembered. That was just another one of his lies.
Sin is not an offense against me; sin is an offense against God. My mother-heart aches when I see the sins of my children loud, audacious, and messy, when other people notice, when consequences are difficult to dole out and require a bit of mutual suffering on my part.
But if my heart is heavy, it should be heavy because my children have been caught playing with a snake in the garden of God. My children have bought into the lie. My children have offended a holy God. My children deserve punishment.
But this God is a Father-God, so unlike the destroyer. He is all of kindness, justice, and mercy. He longs to restore what sin has taken, and so He deals with my children’s sin the way any father would. He gives them a second chance.
Gently, God uncovers the shame. He throws open the windows and lets in the light. He exposes their sin and allows their father and me the opportunity to discipline them now so they are not found lacking later, when life is harder and the stakes are higher.
It is a grace that He does because it is far better to have to deal with the consequences of my children’s sin than to let the consequences of sin deal with my child. It is far better to deal with sin in this world than in the next.
It is not as if I can make it go away simply by ignoring it. I know my children sin. After all, they take after me, and I am well-acquainted with the Fall. Still, it is hard to see, so hard that I might be tempted to ignore the fact that it is a grace to see where my children fall short. It is a grace to be allowed an opportunity to help my children recognize and repent of sin, to correct their natural tendencies and be restored again to God before further damage is done.
So on this beautiful day, I am thankful for sin brought to light. It was not beautiful to see. It was not lovely or good. But also, it is not here anymore.