The Day Your Child Becomes a Sinner

The perfection of their birth is so complete, there’s a kind of lingering anesthetic that tricks us into thinking that perhaps this child has not been touched by Adam’s DNA.

It’s not a conscious thought.

We know we’ve given birth to human children

But when we hold them to our breasts, inhale the scent of their newborn heads, count their fingers and toes, and stare into their sleeping faces,

there rises within us some unnamed hope that this one will, perhaps, not exhibit the traits of one who has fallen from grace

Like his parents have

And theirs before them

And so on, back to the Garden.

Unthinkable that this child will do wrong.

Oh, small things, we know. Little lies to cover spilt milk or

Small defiances over bedtime or curfew

But not the big sins

Not the leap from rooftops ruin their lives and those around them kind of rebellious choices

Not the bold-faced name in the police logs or headlines on the local news or small-town whispered gossip types of decisions that

Would put our child in the same category as Adam or Cain or Jonah or David or Sapphira

Because these are stories, we’ll teach them from the womb,

There will be verses they memorize and songs they sing, classes,groups,retreats,summer camp and prayers spoken over them long into the night

And so they will learn their way into the family, remaining as perfect as the day they were born to us, announced, rejoiced over, and received into hope.

But then they fall.

Not so much from grace as from our well-laid plans

Bursting the foolish lining of our self-deceptive dreams

and then we must look upon them and see, not our swaddled imaginings, but a sinner sprung from, not only our impure bloodline, but also from our tainted family tree.

And we will look into the mirror that is our loved one and face the shame of our own fallen state all over again and wonder about the hope of our faith and sigh with Elijah when he cried out “I have had enough, LORD,” he said. “Take my life; I am no better than my ancestors.” I Kings 19:4b

For we must confess that our children, too, would bite into the fruit.

But in this moment, we have the chance to awaken a second time to the truth that “all have sinned and fallen short of the glory of God” and that all must come to Him through Jesus Christ.

There is a Way but it is not us, or the home we built, or the church we chose, or the plans we laid.

We are not the Door for our children.

We cannot save our children by raising them properly.

Only Jesus.

Always, only Jesus.

And in this, there is hope again.

Because if our children’s salvation depended on the perfection of our parenting then the whole planet would be doomed.

Instead, there remains, the hope and love of faith in Jesus Christ

Not just for us

But also for our children, fellow sinners in need of grace.

Our blood is contaminated but any one of us, or our children, can receive an infusion from the pure blood of the Lamb and be saved from death.

But we must remember this in that moment

When our beloved child, though small or grown, stands before us

And we see a fellow sinner

And we must hear the voice of Jesus crying ““Let the little children come to me, and do not hinder them, for the kingdom of God belongs to such as these.” Luke 18:16

And we must stand aside, get out of His way, and let Him do the work that only He can do.

And that is when we must remember that only Jesus saves.

The day your child becomes a sinner is the day you remember that you, too, are a child saved by grace.

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    The Conversation

  1. WhiteStone says:

    Thanks, Lori, for this good reminder.

  2. Lori, thank you for speaking the truth in such a poetic way. As challenging as it is, it’s good and wise and right for us to remember this all along. From birth. To know–even as we pray over them and for them and with them–that they will not learn from all our mistakes. It’s also encouraging to remember that the same God who awakened our hearts and caused us to desire Him, Who called us to Him, is able to work in their lives. When we hear of public sins and hide our faces in shame, we can praise God for His grace (There, but by the grace of God, go I). And when our children learn personally that He is good in their every circumstance, it is a precious gift. (Or so I’ve heard from my mom.) I’ve seen leanings in both directions from you young brood. My goal is to live with as few regrets and as many treasured memories and conversations about Truth as possible. It’s to be found faithful and obedient. It is difficult to let go and trust when we’ve got so much invested–time, energy, prayers, hope, and LOVE–but that’s what we must strive to do. Again, thank you for sharing your heart.

  3. Felicia says:

    Lori – Thank you so much. I needed to be reminded of this as I am way too often acting as if my wisdom or instruction can somehow ‘save’ my child. Beautifully written.

  4. A friend of mine says that when she kept stepping in and protecting her child from the consequences of her sin God showed a vision of her child falling into an abyss. And as she fell through the opening, my friend would reach out from the depths of the crevice and grab her child before she hit the rocks. And yet, all the while, God’s hands were at the bottom, ready to catch her.

    And God said, “As long as you catch her, I can’t.”