Doing the right thing is simple until I start to rationalize. Then I get into dangerous waters. The scripture from Mark 7 this week is a stark reminder that it’s what’s inside that matters most. I’m thankful the Holy Spirit convicts me when what’s inside doesn’t go along with what’s right. When I find myself saying I know, but…then I know I need a heart check. I recall a night long ago when I learned an important lesson in making things right and not waiting around to do it. God knows I’m human and make mistakes; He also knows those mistakes are wonderful opportunities for growth. It all began with some marbles I believed I had every right to steal.
Although I can’t recall the specific month or year, I remember a cold evening when daddy and I woke up the neighbors in the middle of the night to return a bag of stolen marbles. It was after midnight because mama and daddy were asleep, and they always watched the eleven o’clock news before going to bed. I had been crying since nine, and it seemed an eternity passed before I finally got the nerve to wake up daddy. That was not something I did lightly!
I slipped into my parents’ bedroom and began crying hysterically. When I finally composed myself, I began confessing to my father. I had stolen Eugene’s marbles and had to take them back. Daddy must have sensed my sincerity and was used to my odd behavior, but I’m sure he was taken aback when I woke him from a sound sleep babbling on about marbles.
The story spilled out as I told the details between sobs. Eugene was much older than me and picked on me mercilessly. He was the neighborhood bully and my friend’s older brother. He deviled us all day and won most of my marbles while we played. I saw his marble bag and made up my mind to take it. With much malice and forethought, I stole his marbles and took them home. My revenge wasn’t as sweet at eleven as it had been earlier in the afternoon, and a sense of dread overtook me as I realized what I had done. I had to get those marbles back to him, and I couldn’t wait until morning.
I braced myself for what I knew was coming and was shocked when daddy didn’t send me back to my room. He didn’t yell or tell me to keep the *#%& marbles and go to sleep. Neither would have surprised me, but what he did next threw me for a loop. He calmly got out of bed, put on his coat, pulled on his shoes, and told me to put on my shoes and coat and get the marbles. I ran to my room, did what he said, and met him in the living room.
Daddy and I walked across the street in silence. He had a hold of my hand, and I had a hold of the marbles. When we got to Eugene’s house, daddy let go of my hand and rang the doorbell. We waited on the porch while the house came to life. Lights came on and Reverend Couch appeared at the door. He was in a confused and ruffled state, and I forgot for a moment the somber reason for the visit as I took in his appearance. I had never seen him without his trademark white suit and straw hat. I suppose I thought he slept in it:)
Daddy preceded to tell Dexter that I needed to speak with Eugene. We waited on the porch again while Dexter went to get his son. I realize now that he must have thought Eugene the criminal rather than me. He was twice my size and had a mean streak. I also imagine Dexter might have been a bit unnerved having Foy Holden on his doorstep after midnight with his little disheveled daughter in tow. Daddy also had a reputation in the neighborhood, and there was no love lost between him and the reverend. At the time, however, I was only concerned with the punishment that was coming. My guilty conscience got me to this place, but I knew I’d be on my own as soon as as the facts were in the open.
When Eugene showed up at the door, I began to think about what he might do to me. He tormented me daily for doing absolutely nothing, and I could only imagine what he was going to do to me when he found out I stole his marbles. I began to wail out my confession and fell into a state of hysteria. I finished, hung my head, and waited for the worst. Reverend Couch was known for his fiery sermons, and I was sure to get one now. No one said anything, so I said I was sorry and gave Eugene the marbles. Daddy and I turned and crossed the street. Dexter and Eugene went inside the house.
I remember looking up at daddy. He wasn’t looking at me, but he was grinning from ear to ear. My burden was lifted. Was a pardon possible since I had confessed and done the right thing? Could daddy actually be proud of me? I realize now that daddy was grinning because he got Eugene in trouble and rattled the reverend’s cage. There was nothing daddy enjoyed more than that. Whatever the real reason for the grin, I thought it was because daddy was proud of me. I’m sure he was glad I did the right thing and was proud of me. I’m thankful he got out of his warm bed and took me across the street in the middle of the night. I slept like a baby when I got back into my bed and learned a powerful lesson about confessing and not waiting when it comes to doing the right thing.
That lesson is even more powerful as I recall it today, and I thank God for placing the memory in my path this morning. When I wake in the middle of the night thinking about something I should be doing or something I shouldn’t be doing, it is still a good idea to wake up my Father, confess what’s on my heart, and not wait until morning to do the right thing. It puts a grin on God’s face when I tell Him what He already knows and has been waiting for me to confess. Lesson learned, again! Thank you God:)