The Most Disgusting Thing You’ve Ever Heard

Zack-in-June-3Raising my second-born child to embrace life’s adventures was no easy feat. Largely, because of the warped ways my first-born introduced her to things.

No matter what I said to Hannah about new undertakings, her brother, Zack, with all of the four years he had on her on this earth, carried the most authority.

We’d been watching her brother take swim lessons for months so I didn’t expect her to stand at the edge of the pool clinging to me, crying the first time it was her turn for classes at the Y. “Honey, I don’t understand. What is there to be afraid of in the pool?”

“I don’t want them to pull out that big plug on the bottom and suck me down the drain!” she sobbed.

“There’s no plug at the bottom of the pool. That’s not going to happen. Who told you something like that?” I asked.

“Zack,” she said, looking adoringly at her older brother trying to appear obliviously innocent on the bleachers.

Eventually, she learned to love the pool so much, I decided it would be a great idea to give them a combined birthday party at the Y. Zack’s birthday is about three weeks ahead of Hannah’s, they had friends in the same families, it was winter, and one party would save us money and effort.

Zack and Hannah

He looks so innocent here, doesn’t he?

Until the night Hannah was inconsolable.

“Honey, last week you were really excited about your birthday party! You love the pool at the Y. Why are you crying?” I asked, suspicion growing that I already knew the answer.

“You guys lied to me. You said it was my party AND Zack’s party but it’s only Zack’s,” she whimpered.

Feeling the steam rise around my collar, I asked the inevitable question, “Why do you suddenly think it’s only Zack’s party?”

“He told me it’s not a real party if it’s not AFTER your birthday or ON your birthday. Since it’s BEFORE my birthday, it’s only a real party for HIM. You guys are just trying to trick me with a fake party!”

That night I devised an ad that might convince another nice family to raise Zack to adulthood.

It was hard to be quicker than Zack or to sound more authoritative than he did, even though I’d given birth to them both, made the rules, and held the key to the cookie cupboard. I valiantly tried to Zack-proof her but somehow, he always wedged his thoughts in, sometimes when I least expected.

One day, as we sat doing schoolwork at the kitchen table, Hannah looked up and asked me where babies come from.

“Well-“ I opened my mouth to answer but Zack pushed back from the table and stood, holding up his palm against my words.

“Wait a minute. Are you about to tell her the real deal?” he asked.

“Of course,” I nodded.

“Okay, I’m out of here. Let me know when you’re through.” He grabbed his book and headed for the door, leaving me, I thought, I clear path to finally give her the straight scoop on something. Until, that is, he paused at the door and turned to her with a grimace.

“Brace yourself,” he said dramatically, “you’re about to hear the most disgusting thing you’ve ever heard in your life.” Then he shuddered before storming out leaving Hannah, wide-eyed and terrified, waiting for me to fulfill her brother’s prophecy.

Really? That’s my set up? Thanks, son.

Beware the power of the older sibling.

I think that’s how Jesus felt about the Pharisees. Here He was, leaving His Father’s side to inhabit our humanity to give us the greatest gift, bring us the best news, communicate face-to-face with His beloved creation

but others had gotten to us first.

Big brother Pharisees had shared their version of His truth and spoken with such authority many of us doubted the very Son of God, even when He performed miracles in our very midst.

“He’s here to pull the plug on true religion,” they whispered behind His back.

“He’s eating and drinking with you but the party’s not really for you,” they said in the dark.

“He’s about to tell you the most disturbing thing you’ve ever heard about how souls come into eternal life,” they snarled, in an attempt to keep us from transferring our adoration and discipleship to Him, the One who’d created us all.

Beware the power of the older brother. Watch for him in scripture. He’s a key figure in many stories from the Old Testament to the New. Have you ever wondered why the younger sibling merits such favor in so many stories?

I think it’s a warning to those of us who have known Christ the longest. It’s easy to get in the way. It’s easy to become a problem communicating God’s truth to our younger siblings. It’s easy to misrepresent him in a way that makes them want to run screaming from their pews.

So pay attention, loved ones. Beware the power of the older brother and always keep an ear open to the whisper of the Holy Spirit to get out of God’s way when He wants to teach your younger sibling something without your interference.

If you doubt the importance of that, I’ll put you in touch with Hannah.

This video had a great impact on me this week. Mordechai Mottel Baleston tells his story of how “older siblings” set him up to be predisposed against Jesus and yet, the truth of Jesus  prevailed. You can find more stories like this at I Met Messiah Have you been an older sibling who paves the way for Jesus or is Jesus shaking His head trying to stay one step ahead of you? Ask Him. He’ll let you know.

Do you have an older sibling story? Share it in the comments! If you’re looking for a speaker for your next event, contact me about “Jesus and the Beanstalk,” a talk about how we can topple giants. I’ll be teaching at Blue Ridge Mountain Christian Writers Conference next week and I’ll be speaking at Perryville Baptist Church in Rhode Island on Saturday, June 13, 1-4pm.

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    The Conversation

  1. Felicia says:

    I have a TON of older sibling stories – and definitely relate to poor Hannah! Zack sounds a lot like my older brother, Hal. But in the interest of familial peace, I’ll tell his wife’s firstborn story instead. She was 8 years older than her little brother, and apparently he was the ‘golden child’ – you know, the SON, the BABY, the one who just had to whimper and their parents would insist she give him whatever he wanted. So she learned to best him by determining before a long trip in the car which side of the car the sun would be on. Then she would insist on having that side. Naturally, the little brother would pitch a fit, thinking it must be better if she wanted it, and their Mom and Dad would make her let him have that side….where he would sit sweltering in the sun all day! 🙂

  2. Terry & Patricia Lampel says:

    That is beautiful, Lori! And what a perfect analogy to those delightful “older brothers” the Pharisees! Thanks!

  3. Judith Robl says:

    Well said, my friend. I grew up knowing Jesus from my earliest years, thanks to Attitie, who introduced me to Him before I was three. Your caution to older siblings definitely applies to me.
    Having been privileged to have had a firmly grounded relationship with God for most of my life, I became a speaker and writer to help others understand the benefits of relationship with Him. Lord keep me from being a stumbling block. Help me to be a stepping stone.

  4. Sherdeloach says:

    Liked your blog! Well written with application connected to Jesus’ teachings! Humor – appropriate! “Kids say the darn-ness things!” Art Linkletter

  5. Sherdeloach says:

    I am finding your blogs in my “Junk” box!
    Keep looking til I find them!