It was a lemon bar. Nothing of great importance. The only thing that mattered was that it was taken without permission. We have a pretty common saying in our house, “If it’s not yours, don’t touch it.” She forgot.
It’s crazy how the things I think are a big deal, often fly right over my child’s head. Then along comes this little thing, and for some reason it catches her right and she ends up heartbroken over her decisions. “I just wasn’t thinking, Mommy,” she cried into my shirt. “I just wanted it so I ate it and now Daddy won’t have one.”
I’m patting her head, trying to catch up with a simple reprimand turning into a huge ordeal, when she says the words.
“I just feel so dirty.”
I pause. My first reaction is to correct her. “That’s silly,” I want to say. “You’re not dirty, you’re beautiful and we love you more than any old lemon bar.” But something stops me. Maybe this is a whole lot deeper than the lemon bar. Maybe God is doing something.
All week she’s been flippant when we talk about God. “Yeah, yeah,” she said this morning, “I know He loves me.”
So instead I say something else. “Well, you are dirty,” I tell her. She looked at me with big eyes. I think she was expecting to be comforted, but I had her attention for the first time in awhile.
I continue, “You’re dirty just like mommy is and daddy is and every other person on earth. It’s called sin, baby-girl. It’s ugly and nasty and we’ve all got to deal with it.”
And we talk, there on her bed with the bright flowered comforter wrapped up around us. We talk about this God who loves right through the ugliness of sin. About how Jesus walked the road to Calvary, blood poured out, to pay the price for our dirt. And how the glorious, wondrous thing about knowing God is knowing His grace. Our hearts can be scrubbed clean, with just a word. “Forgive me, Jesus,” we can pray– and He does.
She’s heard the story before. From us, from others. She knows it. But sometimes we all need to hear it in the aftermath of sin, when the realization of our desperate state is upon us. Because it’s only then that I think we fully grasp what Jesus did. What is He is doing.
We read Psalm 51. David’s prayer of repentance. How many times have I scrawled the words through my journals after struggling through some difficult place?
Restore to me the joy of your salvation.
I tell her about restoration. How when Daddy restores old tractors, they are often taken to even better condition than they were originally.
I leave her to pray. To make things right with God. She tells me later it was a lot more than the lemon bar. She’s been pushing the boundaries for awhile and it was making her feel angry and nasty inside.
“Now how do you feel?” Daddy asked her.
She took a deep breath. “Better. I feel a lot better.”
Guilt and shame can be swept away in the mighty rush of His love.
We wrapped her up tight and I told her how much I love her. How much she teaches me with her tentative steps of faith.
Salvation is the first step, always. But the first beat of repentance and the knowledge of being washed clean is only the beginning. There is so much more to come. More struggles, more hope, more forgiveness, and so much more love.
It was only a lemon bar. It didn’t really matter. But God often uses the most lowly of things to draw us closer to Him.