[Flashback] Dead Man Walking: A Little Story of Sin and Redemption at the Price House

Reading through some old posts from my former blog, Espresso Roast, I came across this story from February 22, 2006 of a tough lesson learned by my then 5 year-old son, Jacob…a lesson we all need to learn.

Yesterday my wife discovered a nice, big circle on our dining room table. Actually it was more of a big “e”. In ink. Black ink. Permanant black ink.

Assuming the somewhat obvious, she told my little five-year-old boy to come to her. “Did you do this?” “No, ma’am…not me.” Inquiring further, she asked if he was telling the truth, to which he replied, “Yes, ma’am, that’s not me. I didn’t do it.”

Overhearing what was going on, I walked into the kitchen and asked my son the same question. He looked me square in the eye and said, “No sir, I didn’t do it.” At that point, I looked him in the eye and said, “I believe you. I know you wouldn’t lie to me and if you say you didn’t do it, I believe you.” I must admit my own sin in that I really didn’t believe him, but chose to give him the benefit of the doubt, thereby giving him the opportunity to do the right thing. I walked out of the room.

Within about three minutes he walked up to me with a deep sadness on his face and grabbed me around the legs. “What’s wrong, Jacob?” “I just want to blidjiseb…” “What did you say? I couldn’t understand you.” “I lied, Daddy. I did do it.”

I picked up my little boy and gently sat him down on the coffee table in front of me. I asked him why he had lied and he told me because he was scared when he knew his sins were found out. I then did what I don’t often do: I asked him what he thought should happen now. He said he didn’t know, so I asked if there should be some kind of punishment. He agreed that doing wrong has consequences. What those consequences should be, he didn’t know.

I had the opportunity to talk with my son about sin and how doing bad things enslaves us, bringing on guilt. I told him that when we do bad things, there must be payment for that sin and how God provided a way for us to avoid the punishment for our sins and how, because Jesus took our place, we don’t have to live under the guilt of that sin. I asked Jacob if he confessed to his lie because he felt guilty. He, of course, said yes. He knew what he had done was wrong. I told him that it is because we know inside us that sin requires a payment and how, here on earth, we can recieve forgiveness for our sins in heaven, even though there may be consequences of it we must endure.

So, anyway, I told him how proud I was that he had confessed to his lie, that the lie hurts me much more than the drawing on the table, and that my love for him was unconditional. Finally, we agreed that there should be consequences to his damaging the table. What would it be? No dessert after dinner, no “Cyber-chase” (his favorite t.v. show) tomorrow, fifteen minutes in his room alone, or one swat on the bottom? After being assured that it would not be a real hard spanking, he chose the latter (mainly because it would be over the quickest. Smart kid.)

I have to tell you, I have never been prouder of my little boy in the way he handled himself. As we walked down the hall, he asked me if it would be in my room or his, and he climbed up and laid across my lap. I felt like it was a scene out of Dead Man Walking. I almost couldn’t do it though I knew that in this case, it was so important that he learn the complete lesson regarding the consequences of doing wrong. It really did hurt me so much more than it did him (especially when he sat back up and said, “Hey, that didn’t hurt.” I wondered if I should have given him another).

After giving him a huge hug, I asked him how he felt. He said he felt better. There is no feeling in the world like experiencing forgiveness and having a relationship restored. It was important that I made clear that the spanking was the consequence for his sin, but it could not be the payment. When we do bad things like lying, we are sinning against a perfect and Holy God and no amount of spankings can make that right or restore that relationship. It is infinitely more serious than that. That’s why Jesus did what we could not do. However, the Bible says that “If we confess our sins, He is faithful and just and will forgive us of our sins and cleanse us from all unrighteousness.” (1 John 1:9)

About that time, Mommy walked in the room and he had the opportunity to ask her forgiveness to which, of course, she responded with a big hug and an assurance of her love and forgiveness towards him. It was a great illustration of God’s unconditional love for us and His willingness to forgive us when we ask Him.

Deep down, we all know there is right and wrong and that the things we do wrong must be paid for. We try and “make it right” in all sorts of ways: treating people fairly, giving time to humanitarian efforts, giving money to worthy causes, trying to “be a good person.” Those who have tried, though, know that nothing really makes it right. When we’re laying in our beds at night, the guilt of our lives begins to creep in. We know we’re unworthy and we wonder what’s going to happen to us; we know there must be more. We know that somewhere, somehow, there will be payment for the things we’ve done wrong. My son knows there is more and I am thankful to God for the love, forgiveness, and the complete removal of that nagging, stomach-churning guilt. I remember what it feels like, but I experience it no more.

Therefore, since we have been justified by faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ. Through him we have also obtained access by faith into this grace in which we stand, and we rejoice in hope of the glory of God. More than that, we rejoice in our sufferings, knowing that suffering produces endurance, and endurance produces character, and character produces hope, and hope does not put us to shame, because God’s love has been poured into our hearts through the Holy Spirit who has been given to us.

For while we were still weak, at the right time Christ died for the ungodly. For one will scarcely die for a righteous person, though perhaps for a good person one would dare even to die, but God shows his love for us in that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us. (Romans 5:1-6)