Truth Trail Markers is a series of mini blog posts that share a real life story, illustration or object lesson that we have used to teach our kids eternal truth. Like a marker on a trail, it helps us to get back on the right track and then keep on moving with our day. These come from the perspective of parenting four kids all under the age of five and will probably be too simplistic for older kids. The truths are eternal though, and can be adapted for your family.
My oldest sniffed woefully and wiped her eyes again on the back of her damp sleeve.
She had been discovered in a lie. Again. The tears were not remorse, but rather regret at being caught and her punishment, losing dessert. I pull her into my bedroom and sit on our bed.
But I know it hasn’t penetrated her heart. I know because I was just like her as a little girl, eager to please with the right answer, but missing the truth and beauty behind the answer for many years. It is like I’m seeing history repeat itself. She finds satisfaction in pleasing me, in doing a good job, in having the right answer. There is nothing wrong in this in itself, but the Enemy of our souls has a way of twisting this into pride, building a high wall around hearts, keeping children and adults alike trapped in a vicious cycle of good works without faith. I see the danger because I have been trapped there before. Sensitivity to what others think can often mask an insensitivity to God. How can I touch her heart with the precious truth of the gospel?
The Big Punishment we Deserve
“Jesus died for your sins because He was taking your BIG punishment. Sometimes Mommy and Daddy have to give you a punishment. But those are just little punishments. Sin needs a BIG punishment. It is death and Hell. We can’t stop sinning so God has to give us a BIG punishment. But Jesus said ‘I will take it! Give me the BIG punishment! I love Loralyn so much that I will die on the cross and let her BIG punishment be mine instead.’ ”
I have used this illustration before, but I see it become more powerful the older she gets.
I continue, “So when you get a little punishment from Mommy and Daddy or some other kind of consequence for your sin, it is meant to remind you that Jesus took the BIG punishment. It should make you sad and sorry for your sin, not because you didn’t get dessert, but because Jesus had to die for you. What is the good news for you because Jesus took the BIG punishment?”
I pull her close and look into her little face, so recently looking more grown up and less babyish. “He didn’t stay dead! He came back alive! He had so much power that sin and death couldn’t beat Him! Because He did that you can beat sin and death, too!”
I can feel my tendency to lecture coming out so I decide to cut to the chase. “You need to believe in Jesus, that He did this for you. That is called faith and it is how you can be part of God’s family, how you can escape the BIG punishment, and how you can have the power from God to beat sin.”
God gives the Growth
She is already pulling away from me as she hears her brother and sister playing in the living room. I let her go join them. She doesn't seem to really care that much about what I said. I pray that God waters these seeds I’m planting. As hard as it is, I cannot save her. That is God’s work alone. He led me down this same path years ago and is still teaching me how to love His grace more all the time. Now I know I must trust my Lord with the heart of my child and keep faithfully pointing to Him.