There it was.
Carved in wood.
The evidence could not be denied.
My niece, Anna, dropped her kids off at school and then went home to clean up a bit. She removed a hairbrush, school papers, and yesterday’s jewelry from her dresser. And there it was. She couldn’t believe her eyes.
And a name.
L-i-l-l-i-a-n…carved into the top of her dresser’s walnut surface.
Seven-year-old L-i-l-l-i-a-n didn’t even bother to hide the weapon used to commit the crime. The nail lay just where she found it.
It was a tough six hours as Anna waited for her 44-inch, 49-pound lump of love to get off the school bus. This was not a good day.
“Come with me,” Anna said to little Lillian. “I want to show you something.”
“What’s this about?” Anna asked pointing to L-i-l-l-i-a-n carved into the wood.
Lillian’s rosy lower lip quivered, her green eyes filled with tears, and her porcelain face turned autumn red.
“I’m sorry,” she whimpered with bowed head.
“What were you thinking?” Anna asked sternly.
“Well,” she began, “last night I was waiting for the boys to finished their shower so I could take my turn. I saw the nail and picked it up. At first, when I thought about carving my name on the dresser, my mind said ‘no, no, no, don’t do it’. But the longer I waited, and the longer I thought about it, the ‘no, no, no, don’t do it’ turned into ‘yes, yes, yes, do it.’ And I did. I knew it was wrong, but I just had to do it.”
Anna got down on her knees and held Lillian’s cherub but very guilty face in her hands. “That’s how the devil works,” Anna said. “He creeps in when we don’t expect it and tells us to do bad things—wrong things; but it up to us to say ‘no’.”
“I’m sorry, mommy,” Lillian cried. “I’ll never listen to the devil again.”
Anna told me her story, and you know what, I saw myself in Lillian. I wonder if you did too.
Temptation lies right in front of us—like a nail just taunting us to scratch an itch. At first we say “no, no, no,” but the longer we wait around and fiddle with it, the more likely the “no, no, no” will turn into a “yes, yes, yes.”
What’s the answer? Don’t wait around and fiddle with it! Walk away. Right away.
Paul wrote: The temptations in your life are no different from what others experience. And God is faithful. He will not allow the temptation to be more than you can stand. When you are tempted, he will show you a way out so that you can endure.
(1 Corinthians 10:13 NLT)
That’s true whether the temptation is flirting with that married man at the office, having one glass of wine too many, searching for an old boyfriend on Facebook, sharing a juicy morsel of gossip with a friend, or carving your name in your mom’s dresser with a nail.
I love that Lillian said, “I’ll never listen to the devil again.” Oh don’t you wish that were true. For Lillian. For me. For you. But we will.
That’s when I thank Jesus for the nails…not one, but three…nails that pierced His hands and feet so that we can be forgiven. Even when we fail, Jesus forgives us when we asks and restores us when we fall.
It’s called G-r-a-c-e.
For moms everywhere who have discovered carved names on tabletops, crayon masterpieces on walls, and paint spills on carpet, see my book Being a Great Mom, Raising Great Kids for an extra dose of encouragement. Also, check out my new Praying for Your Child from Head to Toe prayer card!