Melted candle wax covered my fingertips, and my brother’s. We were giggling like crazy at the collection of small devotion candles we were pillaging at the moment, hoping no one would catch us. A family wedding had brought us to the quiet little church, and while our unsuspecting relatives ate and drank in the social hall next door, we took the opportunity to be downright naughty. We were just kids, with the oldest being no more than six, so no one could say we fully knew what we were doing. Still, I had a vague impression that we were doing something wrong.
It was fun creating shapes with the wax. I liked to call mine, “George Washington,” pretending to mold old-fashioned white powder wigs, and playing that my fingers were “George’s” faces. Maybe a “my fellow Americans,” slipped out in a self-important tone of voice, followed by a bout of laughter. My brother stopped his waxy play after a moment, and admonished me to quit, because someone would surely catch us soon. Since I was enjoying myself, I saw no reason to stop. I even ran back to the reception area and recruited my sisters to join the fun. Little did I know that Mom was catching on, and soon she ventured into the peaceful church. She stifled a laugh, but told us we had better stop what we were doing, because it was disrespectful to God. This was God’s house, not ours. I remember asking her, why should we stop? We weren’t getting burned, so why did I have to? At one point, my harried mother pulled gently on my arm and forced me to vacate the premises, and the fun.
Later, I was told that if I did something I knew was wrong, that would put a big stain on my soul. The goal was to keep it glowing white. I couldn’t believe it! I pictured my soul with a gigantic dark purple stain. I was toast!
This brief childhood story is an excellent parable of sorts; it demonstrates the reality of human nature, that who we are is communicated in moments when we think no one is looking. Since my brother and I were kids and lacked the full understanding of adulthood, we were probably instantly forgiven by the little church for our misadventure. I’m glad we had parents that helped us recognize right from wrong from an early age. The difficulty in parenthood arises in those critical moments when we realize we are not in control. We can keep our kids away from the campfire all we want, but in the end, many may put their hand out to see if the flame is hot enough to burn. I for one hope your children have the good sense to avoid the warmth of the flame (since part of sin’s allure is in the ‘feel good’ element), having been grounded in the truth, but do pray for them! Pray for the protection of your children’s everlasting souls every day. Pray for their future spouses, for the other children they come into contact with everyday, for their teachers and principals, that their ears and eyes may be open to God’s truth. May your words and example mold them, like melted candle wax, into the God-honoring sons and daughters we know they can be.