This morning I got up with an agenda. Mistake #1. I should know by now that the days I have a plan of attack are the days that seem to attack me.
After getting the kids sat down at the table with their cereals of choice, I headed to the computer to start working on today’s first task. Mistake #2. Messes happen when I’m at the table, so why wouldn’t they happen when I’m not?
It’s funny how my ears turned motherly upon having children. I can now do something I never could before: I can recognize the sound of trouble. So when I heard the sound of the vent cover in the kitchen falling back into place, I knew it was time to see what was going on.
A few weeks ago, Abel unfortunately discovered that the floor vents in our house are designed to be simply lifted out of place. (Why, I don’t know. Maybe to get Abel into trouble?) Upon his innocent discovery, I gently instructed him that he was not to remove the vent cover, warning him that it isn’t a toy and that he and Amariah could get hurt if the hole was left open. Have I mentioned that Abel is a strong-willed child? At least a few times since then I’ve had to remind my curious little Abel not to mess with the vent. Immediate obedience has occurred in each instance; but, obviously, not much can be said of his long-term conviction in that area.
This morning as I re-entered the kitchen to investigate the telling sound, I found the kitchen floor covered with cereal, my broom and dust pan lying on the outskirts of the mess, and Abel laying in the midst of the mess with his face over the kitchen vent. As I came closer I realized that he was “cleaning up” the mess by placing the cereal pieces down the vent. (He later confessed that it was indeed he who spilled the cereal and that he had gotten the broom out to clean it up just prior to deciding it would be more fun to push it down the vent. [That’s my rough paraphrase, by the way.])
I confess, I was instantly mad. How many times had I told him not to lift the vent cover, to leave it alone and not mess with it? I told him why I was mad, spanked him, and sent him to his room “to think about it.” In the meantime, I went to my room to think about it and to calm my anger before further discussing the episode with him.
As I was reflecting on my anger and trying to talk myself out of it, the Lord suddenly called to my mind a verse that I’ve never memorized but that was nevertheless instantaneously known to me: “His anger is but for a moment” (Psalm 30:5).
But I want to stay angry, I thought. He knew better.
Still fighting the conviction of the Holy Spirit, I started singing as a song came to my mind.
Everyone needs compassion
Love that’s never failing
Let mercy fall on me.
Everyone needs forgiveness
The kindness of a Savior
The hope of nations….
Everyone Abel needs compassion. Everyone Abel needs forgiveness. I knew by the manner in which he went to his room and by the silence with which he sat alone on his bed that he was sorry for what he had done and was surely awaiting my coming that he might repent. It wasn’t fair or godly to let my anger remain. He needed relief from his suffering. He needed forgiveness.
Oh, God, I thank You and praise You for the conviction of the Holy Spirit. I thank You for Your word which is “living and active and sharper than any two-edged sword, and piercing as far as the division of soul and spirit, of both joints and marrow, and able to judge the thoughts and intentions of the heart” (Hebrews 4:12). God, I pray that You would continue to teach me to be “slow to anger, for the anger of man does not achieve the righteousness of God” (James 1:19-20). I thank You for forgiveness and that Your anger is but for a moment, Your favor for a lifetime. Where would I be if not for that?…