Last night Tonya had to chaperon a school dance for a couple of hours. That left me at home with the boys. Everything was going fine until Royce, my eight-year-old, decided that he wanted to go outside and practice his baseball swing. There he stood, holding his plastic ball and bat, while I told him that it was getting too dark to go outside. He didn’t like my verdict, but he seemed to take it in stride.
Not long afterwards, I heard some kind of crash down in our basement. I didn’t think too much about it because I knew that Royce had gone down there after I had told him he couldn’t go outside. I also knew that he has an average of three or four “crashes” every day. If they are serious enough, he comes and reports. Since he didn’t report, I figured that everything was okay.
Finally, after about fifteen minutes had passed, Royce came to me in tears. As it turned out, he had taken his ball and bat downstairs to practice his swing. He had thrown the ball up and hit it straight into one of our fluorescent lights. The light was now lying in a million pieces all over the basement floor.
Now, here’s where I need to give you a little background to the story. A few weeks ago, Ryan and Royce busted another light by throwing balls in the basement. At that time I laid down one of those eternal, never-to-be-challenged rules concerning balls, the basement, and fluorescent lights. Fathers love doing that kind of thing. Naturally, when Royce busted another light with another ball, he knew he was in for a spanking.
Oh, yes, we practice the art of spanking around our house. We don’t cross the line into child abuse, but we do spank. If you disagree with this time-honored parenting method, please read the following Bible passages: Hebrews 12:5-11; Psalm 119:67; Proverbs 3:11-12; 13:24; 19:18; 26:15; 23:13-14; and 29:15,17. The board of education applied to the seat of knowledge can do wonders for the thought process of the mind. God gave us extra padding back there for a reason!
And so, Royce knew that he was in for some disciplining. But he had a better idea. While I went downstairs to survey the damage, he headed out the door toward the garage. By the time I came back upstairs, he already had his little scooter out. When I said, “Get in here,” he said, “I’m going to run away because I don’t want another spanking.” I said, “What are you going to do, just walk the roads?” He said, “That’s why I got my scooter.” I said, “And how do you plan to eat?” At that point he showed me that he had gone to his room and gotten his little billfold. He said, “I’ve got $30.” (That was the truth. He’d been saving his “Grandpaw” and “Grandmaw” money.)
Well, even though he had obviously thought things out pretty clearly, I still made him come inside the house. And, yes, I gave him a one-swat spanking. (Two-swat spankings are reserved for really bad disobedience.) When Tonya came home and got the whole report, she said, “I can’t leave you alone with them for two hours.” I said, “I thought I was doing good by not letting him go outside at dark.” I’m telling you, I just can’t win for losing. As for how Royce was going to live on $30, he said he would just keep on buying bags of Cheetos.
Two things struck me about Royce wanting to run away. First, I was actually glad that he had enough healthy fear of me to know that disobedience would bring punishment. Did you know that a child gets his first concept of God from his father? How the father acts pushes the child towards that idea of God. Abusive fathers turn God into a bully. Absentee fathers turn Him into someone who cares more about everyone else than the child. Milquetoast fathers turn Him into a timid, unassertive weakling. I don’t mind influencing Royce to view God as an authority figure who will punish disobedience. After all, that’s what He is.
The same book of Proverbs that has so much to say about spanking also has lots to say about the fear of the Lord. This is far from a coincidence. God understands full well what I just said about a child getting his first impression of God from his father. According to Proverbs, the fear of the Lord:
-is the beginning of knowledge (1:7)
-leads to a departing from evil (3:7, 16:6)
-will be health to your flesh and strength to your bones (3:8)
-leads to a hatred of evil (8:13)
-is the beginning of wisdom (9:10)
-prolongs days (10:27)
-brings strong confidence (14:26)
-is a fountain of life (14:27)
-turns one away from the snares of death (14:27)
-is the instruction of wisdom (15:33)
-leads to life, an abiding in satisfaction, and a protection from evil (19:23)
-leads to riches, honor, and life (22:4)
Now you see why it is so important for Royce to have a healthy fear of me. As he grows up, he will be able to naturally transfer that fear from his earthly father to his heavenly father. Last night showed that we are on schedule in that department.
The second thing that struck me about Royce wanting to run away was how much it reminded me of Adam and Eve. When they heard God walking in the garden of Eden after their sin, their first impulse was to hide, get away, and keep from reporting (Genesis 3:8). The fact that this was Royce’s same response after he had disobeyed me proved that the inherited sin-nature is alive and well in the little fellow. He was born with mommy’s eyes, daddy’s nose, and Adam’s nature.
Now that I’ve had some time to think about it, I can see even more similarities between Royce’s situation and Adam and Eve’s:
#1: I didn’t want Royce to run away and hide any more than God wanted Adam and Eve to run away and hide. It would have crushed me to lose my son forever just as it would have crushed God to lose His two kids forever.
#2: Like Adam and Eve, Royce was all ready to accept an inferior way of living rather than confess his sin. Adam and Eve had their fig leaves; he had his Cheetos.
#3: Just as God couldn’t wink at Adam and Eve’s disobedience and say, “We’ll let it go this time,” I couldn’t let Royce off the hook. The disobedience had to be addressed.
#4: After the disobedience was addressed, the fellowship was restored. The souls of Adam and Eve are in heaven right now, still enjoying fellowship with God. Royce and I are getting along just fine today too.
#5: Even though the disobedience was dealt with and the fellowship restored, the fallout from the sin remains. We lost our basement light and Adam and Eve lost their sinless perfection, innocence, and immortality. Sin does damage, and there’s no getting around that.
I love Royce, and we’ll buy a new light. God loves Adam and Eve (and their race), and He sent His Son to die so that His blood could cleanse all sin (John 3:16). Adam and Eve placed their belief in the Lord and learned the lesson that forgiveness of sin only comes via the shed blood of a sacrifice (Genesis 3:21). Now the question is: Have you placed your belief in Jesus and allowed the blood He shed in dying to cleanse you from all sin (Hebrews 10:4-14)? Or are you still going down life’s highway on your scooter, living on Cheetos?