As I begin to wrap up my first book project, The Struggle Is Real, I have a new project stirring in my mind and soul. The title: A Sinless Generation. I woke up around 4am this morning and had to put words on paper because my mind would not stop swirling. I wanted to share an excerpt from the first chapter: When Sin Is Taken Lightly.
When Sin Is Taken Lightly
My dad tells a story of when I was around three-years-old. Our family went on a vacation to Carlsbad Caverns in the Chihuahuan Desert of southern New Mexico. One day as we were exploring the caves, I wandered away from the safety of my parents’ arms, and began exploring for myself. When my parents realized that I was not close by, they quickly searched and found me headed for a dangerous area that was barricaded and off limits. My dad says that as I made my way under the ropes and passed the barricade, I began slipping into a bottomless and dark abyss. He snatched the hood of my jacket and pulled me back to safety just as my feet began to slip. If I had fallen, it would have surely been the end of my short life.
I have always taken this story as a picture of my spiritual rescue. Unaware of the destruction I was headed for, Christ rescued me and snatched me from the deep darkness of sin’s abyss. Not only did he save me once and for all from my sins as a whole, and snatched me from the darkness of death to bring me into the light of eternal life, but I have seen Him continue to snatch me out of the darkness of sin on a daily basis to bring me back into His loving arms. Consistently, as I wander, He rescues me back to the safety of His light.
As a generation, I believe we’ve forgotten the darkness of our sin. We have disregarded the devastating destruction that sin breeds. We have taken sin too lightly, and now it has overtaken and hardened our heavy souls. This flippant attitude toward our sin could be the greatest tragedy of our generation.
When will we begin to take sin seriously? When will we turn from the darkness and run into His marvelous light? Could we be a generation that misses Jesus because we miss the serious reality of our sins?
I have a two-year-old daughter, and although she is truly sweet-hearted, she also has a clear bent towards sin. As we all do. Not long ago, my husband tweeted: “If you don’t believe in the doctrine of original sin, you’ve never had a 2-year-old.” Her inherent sinful nature is already clearly evident. Not because she’s especially bad or disobedient, but because she’s human. I have jokingly said, “Well, the good news is hopefully she’ll realize her need for a Savior early on in life.” I say this jokingly, but I actually mean it very seriously. I earnestly pray that she will recognize her sin early on, in order to acknowledge her need for Jesus. We live in a society that tells us to discipline with our child’s self-esteem in mind. Instead of saying, “What you did was wrong. Disobedient. Dishonest. Hurtful.” We are encouraged to use less “harsh” words and keep correction positive and more self-empowering. Although I understand the intention behind this philosophy, and I am all for encouragement and positivity, I also believe with deep conviction that we should clearly point out sin to our children. When I correct my daughter, I tell her, “Joy, that was very disobedient. Your sin hurts mom and hurts the heart of God. Will you ask for forgiveness?” I always freely forgive and give grace with abandon, but she must understand her need for forgiveness and grace.
You see, I would have never come to Jesus if I had never realized my need for Him. I accepted Christ as a seven-year-old, and looking back on my experience, I have clear memories of what propelled me to my Savior. I remember as a first grader, the first time I cheated on a test. I was sitting in Mrs. Arnold’s class. We had a spelling test that day, and I just could not remember how to spell “bicycle.” I placed my spelling sheet in the cubby of my desk, and slyly slid the sheet out to review that specific word during the test. As I walked to place my test on Mrs. Arnold’s desk, I felt a deep-sinking feeling in my stomach. For the first time in my life, I felt gut-wrenching guilt. But, I didn’t confess. The feeling of guilt laid stagnant in my heart for quite some time. Not long after, I remember being in a store with my parents. I saw a bright pink bouncy ball that looked like something I couldn’t live without. I grabbed the ball, placed it in my pocket, and when it was time to go, I left without paying for it. I remember as I walked out the door of that store, feeling the same pit in my stomach that I had felt in Mrs. Arnold’s class. Guilt, is that you again? This time, I confessed. I told my parents, we returned to the store, they had me tell the store merchant what I had done, and I returned the bright pink bouncy ball. Although I left without the bouncy ball, I gained a freedom that I hadn’t felt before my confession.
These examples might sound trite, but I’m extremely grateful that as a seven-year-old, these sins weighed heavily on my heart. Not long after these two incidents, I found myself sitting in church on a Sunday night. That night we were partaking in the Lord’s Supper. The pastor explained that the Lord’s Supper was to be taken by believers only. If you were sitting in the congregation and had not accepted Christ as your Savior, he asked you to quietly hand the plate to the person next to you and pass on partaking. I knew I had not yet accepted Christ, so I did not participate that night. Throughout the entire service, I felt the swirling of the Holy Spirit in my seven-year-old soul. Why had I not accepted Jesus as my Savior? I believed that He died on the Cross. I knew He died for the sins of the world, but until that time I had not understood the seriousness of my own personal sin.
Now that I had experienced the guilt and heaviness of my personal sin, I knew that I desperately needed a Savior to rescue me from my own self. That night, I prayed with my parents to accept Christ as my Lord and Savior. The guilt and shame that had once weighed on me began to fade and release me to a freedom that I had never experienced before. I would have never found that freedom had I not recognized the seriousness of my sin.