When I was a little guy, I was playing in the backyard in the country. There before me, I saw the ladder to the hayloft that I was never supposed to climb. I was a little tow-headed four year old, but, as with things that we aren't supposed to do, I kept giving my attention on that ladder. I had all the other fun things that I was allowed to play with. There were balls, bikes, swings, and a yard that seemed totally massive to a little guy like me. But that ladder is what I wanted. Up there, at the top of that ladder, I knew I would find the perfect fun that was eluding me down here. Isn't that the lie that sin always tells us? On the other side of that wrong decision will be better days. That desire we are longing for can only be fulfilled if we cave just a little bit or for only a little while on this wrong thing.
One of favorite Christian musicians, Derek Webb, had an affair last year and published a telling confession a few days back on the Internet. His story seems to go the same way as the ladder but a little more consequential. He bought into the lie that on the other side of the affair would be the love he was looking for. Life would be better. He would finally feel complete. This last week, he wrote a confession and posted it online. In it he said,
"i was a fool. i believed lies, which led me to tell lies....what you think you want, what you think you can have, is not real, and you’ll lose real things pursuing it. as an unfortunately and extremely reliable source, please believe me."
I eventually gave in and climbed that ladder to the hayloft. Near the top, my young, small hands missed a rung, and I fell. Tumbling down, back toward the shadows, smashing my head on a wooden beam and busting my head open. Laying there, broken and bloody, I eventually found the strength to get up and head back to the house for help.
This is the way of sin. It breaks. It destroys. It harms.
My words to my mom when I saw her, blood running down my face, was "I lost my shoe." Somehow, in the fall, my shoe had fallen off, and I was in no state to find it. I thought she would be mad at me for breaking a rule and losing my shoe. Instead, she saw her four year old all bloody. She reached out to help and love me.
This is the way of God.
Grace doesn't always make things physically better. I still had a cut on my head and blood running down my face. I still had a concussion, a massive headache, would need stitches, and would vomit. Some mistakes carry with them consequences that don't go away here on earth. That's just not the way that grace works. And that's why sin is so dangerous. It always causes consequences spiritually, and often physically, that just don't go away. But grace says, "I love you anyway." Grace says, "You don't have to hide what you did to have my love." You can go on from here and still live life to the fullest.
On the other hand, if you keep hiding in the barn, covered in your own blood - the mistake of your sin - seeking for your own shoe trying to make things right yourself - you won't get the healing you need. And I think a lot of our sin is like that. Our society tells us that we won't get grace and the we should be independent and fix it ourselves, so we keep it hidden. We wrestle with it alone. We want to fix it ourselves. But when we go back to God like I went back to my mom, grace wraps her arms around us, lets us cry on her shoulder, and says that, "It is going to be okay. It may not be the same, but it is going to be okay. I still have something in store for you. I love you."