By Paul A. Kienel
The summer before my father died in 1940, my sister and I lived with the Macks, a farm couple who were members of our fatherís Assemblies of God church in Dufer, Oregon. We had stayed on several farms during our fatherís long struggle with tuberculosis.
Our mother Velma mailed two pairs of sandals to the Macks. My sister Jeanette wore hers, but I wasnít excited about wearing sandals or any shoes in the summertime.
The next morning I ambled down to my favorite spot, a tree-shaded swimming hole fed by the most beautiful stream I had seen in my seven years. I had my sandals on. I climbed up to lie down on a wide log which stretched across the swimming hole. I took my sandals off, laid them on the log, and put my battered straw hat over my face. With my big toe I slowly slid one of the sandals to the edge of the log. It tottered a bit, then plopped to the water below and slowly drifted down to the crawdads in the dark waters of the swimming hole. I was confident my sandal would never be seen again.
I relaxed until I heard Mrs. Mackís dinner bell at noon. I raced to the farmhouse carrying one sandal. "Where is your other sandal?" Mrs. Mack asked.
I told her I lost it in the alfalfa field.
"Never mind," she said, "Mr. Mack will go with you to look for it tomorrow morning when he goes back to the fields."
In the night I was awakened by torrential rains with lightning and thunder. Steamy and wet as it was the next morning Mr. Mack asked me to show him approximately where I had lost my sandal. We walked back and forth in the wet alfalfa. Finally Mr. Mack gave up and said, "Letís go see the damage the rainstorm has done along the creek."
We walked downstream to where the swimming hole had been. My log perch had washed away. I looked into what was left of the swimming hole, and my sandal was gone. We walked farther downstream. We stepped over a log, and there was my sandal in the mud where it had washed ashore.
I immediately confessed my wrongdoing to Mr. Mack. I pulled my sandal out of the muddy silt and headed for the farmhouse where I told Mrs. Mack what had happened. That evening I asked God to forgive me. The release I felt knowing God had forgiven me was overwhelming. At seven I experienced the grace of God. There is nothing in the world like it.
Have your children experienced the grace of God today or in recent days?
I find more and more that children and young people do not admit to wrongdoing or repent of wrongdoing because they are made to believe they have only made bad choices. Sin, repentance, asking God to forgive sin, and seeking restoration with God and man appear to be missing in the í90ís.
Every culture in the world, including ours, must answer to God. The apostle Paul wrote to the Romans, "But where sin abounded, grace did much more abound" (Romans 5:20). Godís provision of grace, His forgiveness and restoration, work in our lives and in the lives of our children only when we acknowledge that sin abounds. Bad choices often lead to sin. Sin must be acknowledged. It must be forgiven. Repentance and acceptance of forgiveness result in spiritual cleansing. Spiritual cleansing brings release from sin.
Again Paul wrote to Timothy: "Thou therefore, my son, be strong in the grace that is in Christ Jesus" (2 Timothy 2:1). As a child I did not understand the theology of Godís grace, but I experienced it. I accepted Christ as my Savior when I was seven. I knew it was wrong to sin against Christ. And I knew I had to acknowledge my sin and repent of it. I felt guilt, but then I felt the release from guilt when I accepted Godís forgiveness. I also experienced forgiveness and restoration from those who cared for me. Therefore, the circle of Godís grace was complete for me.
Grace is Godís unmerited favor extended to each of us. Godís Son Jesus, came to earth, died, and rose again to provide salvation for us. When we call upon God in repentance, He forgives and restores us into fellowship.
If you fly regularly on airlines, you know at the beginning of every flight an attendant explains the planeís safety procedure. The attendant demonstrates an oxygen mask which will automatically drop from an overhead compartment should there be a loss of oxygen in the cabin. If that occurs, you are to put a mask on yourself first, then on any children with you.
This same pattern should pertain to the grace of God. Experience it yourself, then carefully explain it to your children. It is even more essential than fresh air.
From the Pentecostal Evangel. Used by permission of the author.
Dr. Paul A. Kienel is executive director of the Association of Christian Schools International.