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Crouching Tiger, Hidden Gut Punch: When Children’s Lessons Resonate

Sin is crouching at your door; it desires to have you, but you must rule over it. – Genesis 4:7

These words wavered from a six year-old’s lips on Sunday as a microphone was, to her surprise, propped in her face.

Sin is crouching at your door; it desires to have you, but you must rule over it.

Pretty heavy stuff for a small child.

Sin, like a tiger, a beast. It’s at your door. And it’s ready to Take. You. Down.

But you can stop it. You, six year old girl with red sparkly shoes and the sweet smile of a child, you can rule over it. You’re the boss.

I appreciate that it doesn’t say, you can avoid it. Or, you can just wave your hand through the window and tell it to try again later.

Because, let’s be honest, sin isn’t a wanderer who stumbles across your doorstep and hopes you’ll let him in, but will just move on if you don’t. And sin isn’t something that you can just turn your back and hide from from.

And, sin, well, it’s already in the house.  It’s on our televisions, in our daydreams, it’s in our conversations and relationships. It’s in our very nature. And sometimes, in my case, most times, it’s as warm and fuzzy and inviting as anything else you’d like to be close to.

If sin truly showed itself as the devastating, soul squeezing, crouching monster that it is, of course we’d all want to keep away or be it’s master and lock it in a cage.

But, what we see and what is true is not always so clear. Sin is not (always) a tiger, crouching. It can be a smile, lingering. It’s not (always) a lie spoken, but a heart turning. Sin isn’t (always) doing something wrong, but doing nothing at all.

***

This morning, my children and I did our start of school devotional and it was on finishing the race. In Hebrews, it says, Let us run the race that is before us and never give up. (12:1)

As part of the devotional prompts, I asked my children what they feel like at the beginning of a race. Excited, happy, ready to go. 

When asked how they feel as they get closer to the end, Alex responded tired and like I’ve exerted everything, and then I can see my friends coming up and catching me and some of them might pass me.

It wasn’t where the devotional intended for us to go, but we wound up talking about taking our eyes off of the finish line and looking around instead. We run slower, when we’re looking over our shoulders, whether we intend to or not. Our pace slows when we’re not focused on the finish line.

We get distracted by how other people are doing. Oh, look, they’re having so much fun over there, not racing. 

Or, look, up ahead, that girl from church, she never looks back and she’s always in the front and she’s just so perfect. I’ll never catch up.

And so, we talked about comparing ourselves to others. As we talked, I felt like ditching every lesson plan for the day and just sitting there and drilling this into my children’s little heads – Do. Not. Compare. Yourself.

I can’t think of a single more fruitless waste of time.

Without turning this into something sappy and repetitious about how everyone is a unique snowflake (which is that even true? I think I read otherwise recently.)

The fact remains that, dear children of mine, no one else can be you, and you can not be anyone else.

You are not better, they are not better.

You have strengths and weaknesses. They have strengths and weaknesses.

God gave you these legs – this heart, this mind, this imagination, this body – for you to run the race.

And it’s as simple as that – this is your race, to him.

This is not a marathon where we are competing with other believers to see who will be tops in heaven.

This is a race of enduring love, with your creator and greatest cheerleader at the finish line, arms open.

Period.

***

These two lessons, intended for my children, were like a one-two punch in the gut for me in past twenty-four hours.

Sin is crouching at your door; it desires to have you, but you must rule over it.

Sin is sweetly smiling and gently knocking, but you must rule over it.

Let us run the race that is before us and never give up.

Sin is calling you from the sidelines, holding cups of lemonade as your throat is parched and your legs wobble, but you must run onward.

To the finish line.

To the author and perfecter of your faith.

To your creator and redeemer.

To the greatest, most rewarding hug you’ll ever know, (and probably the most refreshing cup of lemonade you’ll ever drink.)

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