Lil Prince has two drawers full of Legos that are pretty much the bain of my existence (thanks, Uncle Ronnie). But recently, Papa Bear has been helping him to build instead of simply scatter and throw, and that’s been fun to watch (as well as being easier on my feet). A few nights ago Papa Bear built Lil Prince two fighter jets (he kept working on them long after his oldest son went to bed). “This one is the good guy, and this one is the bad guy,” he said.
In the morning after school time, Lil Prince zeroed in on his jets. He picked them up and began flying them around yelling, “I’m gonna get you bad guy!” And then, “No, I’m going to get you good guy,” in a deep and sinister voice.
It was all so clear, so black and white. This one is good and this one is bad…no questions. The bad one will never repent and suddenly be a good guy. There is no forgiveness for the bad guy; and, of course, there’s no toppling from ivory towers and golden pedestals for the good guy. Everybody simply is what they are. And not only that, but everybody knows what they are. It’s so simple.
I can still remember the first time it fully hit me that the good guys in the Bible did really bad things that aren’t at all hidden from our sight (preventing us from revering and honoring them the way we might otherwise be tempted to do). I had been a Christian for fifteen years and had probably read through the Bible once or twice, but I was out of work, sick, and determined to do nothing else but read and eat and sleep until I made it all the way through. It took me twelve days to get from Genesis through Revelation, which was entirely too short a time for digesting all that He has for us in His word. Still, reading each story on the heels of the one before it allowed me to see things that might have escaped my attention had I been reading at more regular a pace.
“Is Noah, the only righteous man alive in his day, really so drunk that he’s passed out naked?! Surely not, but well, that’s exactly what it says.”
“Abram is pawning off Sarai as his sister, but Abram is one of the good guys so he must know something I don’t. Hmmm…no, he’s just being a stinkin’ coward! And, no, oh my gosh! He’s doing it again?!?”
“Sarah is giving her husband’s seed to another woman because she doesn’t have the faith that God will work through her. But doesn’t she remember that God afflicted an entire palace because she was so precious to Him? However, God didn’t really say that Sarah was going to be the mother of Abraham’s descendants. No, yeah, oops, I guess she really should have waited. Two nations will be warring until the end of the world just because Sarah didn’t trust God to use her.”
“David is a man after God’s own heart, one of God’s absolute favorite people, but wait…he’s also one of the worst dads of all time (as well as being an adulterer and a murderer). Am I reading that right? Uh, yes, yes I am.”
It was such a freeing revelation, not as a license to sin but as permission to forgive myself and others. There are sheep, and there are also wolves in sheep’s clothing. There are good guys, and there are bad guys. But sometimes it’s hard to tell the difference. And, as far as I can tell, the only thing that has ever separated the two is true and turning repentance.
Live blessed today. And if you need a do-over, just reach out and take it.