Surprised By Sin

For all have sinned… Romans 2:23

It felt as if my whole body was on fire! My chest burned, my heart raced, my throat constricted raising the pitch of my voice. With clinched hands and tense muscles, I was beginning to shake. Adrenalin was coursing through my body producing a ‘fight’ response. What triggered this acute reaction? My 11 year old daughter! She was repeatedly denying her actions of disobedience though she had been caught in the very act. Lie upon lie ensued; spoken with a calm monotone voice and only after prompting her out of silence to my questions with threats of punishment.

What had happened to me has a very singular and short name, it was rage! I had never experienced this phenomenon in my entire 37 years at the time. Nor had I ever seen it exhibited by anyone else except in movies and that by the ‘bad guy’. Yet there it was in its full ugliness and control.

I wish I could say that first occurrence of rage was my last but then I would be lying; which is the very thing that initiated the response in my heart the first time! There is just nothing like asking a child a question, especially a reasonable question, to have them continually lie; skirting the initial question with randomly related, but slightly off subject, answers.

Everyday became a battle for survival, not for basic needs like food, clothes, and shelter, those were ever present, but for sanity! Every moment I was on point, watching for lies, manipulation, and deception. Fighting to keep my wits as children, who had spent 3, 8, and 11 years perfecting these sins, easily maneuvered around our family expectations and boundaries without remorse or sorrow.

It didn’t start out like that. It was an exciting day. The Lord had already blessed us with three wonderful birth-children and, just three weeks prior, a darling 2 ½ year old baby girl placed in our home for ‘foster to adopt’…three weeks of heavenly adoption bliss! So when the call came that three sisters needed an immediate ‘foster to adopt’ placement due to disruption, it seemed another perfect gift from God (after a family meeting with much prayer) to welcome these girls into our home and family.

They arrived by van. The youngest jumped out eager to give her new ‘twin’ sister a picture she had drawn. The middle child followed close behind with the oldest slow to climb out of the back seat of the vehicle and into the circle of this new family standing on the front yard of her new home. The girls enjoyed the tour of the house, the look of their new bedroom, and the pizza we had for dinner. They seemed to settle right into the workings of our family and the next two weeks were a pleasant time of discovery; them learning us and we learning much about them.

I am not sure how or what started it, but within a month, our home had become a battleground. We could have sent the girls away as we were still in the six-month waiting period, but we knew God wanted them to be our daughters. So the battles raged day in and day out. Then it happened.

It was so simple. During family worship, Dad was reading aloud from Proverbs when the truth hit…he was reading about our daughters. Then the next bombshell hit, this behavior is not new, it was not adoption related or past abuse/neglect related, it was sin related! And not only was it our daughters’ sin but ours as well that was perpetuating all these behaviors!

And ye shall know the truth, and the truth shall make you free. John 8:32

It did not happen overnight and it did not happen without set-backs, but there we were, peace filling our home and children living in happy obedience (most of the time, they are still kids!).

How did it happen? We believed God. We peeled the layers of our child’s heart back, found the lie and replaced it with truth. We sought to live faithful lives as examples of the truth of scripture in front of and with our children (most of the time, we are still sinners!). And we trusted God that He would bless it (Psalm 128) which He has abundantly!

Now we are no longer surprised by sin, in ourselves or our children. Instead we understand, by God’s grace and through the Word, what is happening in all of our hearts. No surprise there, The heart is deceitful above all things, and desperately wicked: who can know it? Jeremiah 17:9

And thankfully, the Lord (who is never surprised by sin) gives us something to strive for complete with an assurance…let us not love in word, neither in tongue; but in deed and in truth. And hereby we know that we are of the truth, and shall assure our hearts before him. For if our heart condemn us, God is greater than our heart, and knoweth all things. Beloved, if our heart condemn us not, then have we confidence toward God. 1 John 3:18-21

It is a beautiful thing. It is a humbling thing. It is our obligation as a command from the Lord to ‘teach it to our children’. We are very glad we do.

Psalm 128
Blessed is every one that feareth the Lord; that walketh in his ways.
For thou shalt eat the labour of thine hands: happy shalt thou be,
and it shall be well with thee.
Thy wife shall be as a fruitful vine by the sides of thine house:
thy children like olive plants round about thy table.
Behold, that thus shall the man be blessed that feareth the Lord.
The Lord shall bless thee out of Zion:
and thou shalt see the good of Jerusalem all the days of thy life.
Yea, thou shalt see thy children’s children, and peace upon Israel.
Copyright © 2012 Robert Sanford. All rights reserved

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