It all started with a football; it didn’t start out as stealing. It shouldn’t surprise me that deceit and lying can so easily trap us into a deeper sin, but it does.
I began third grade in a new school after Christmas break. The first half of third grade was not a good one and I was determined to turn over a new leaf. I had the opportunity for a new beginning; a second chance. That really didn’t last as long as I had hoped.
One day in class a boy in the desk behind me showed me his new football. It was probably a Christmas present. It was a small one, but he was very proud. For some reason I thought it would be funny to tease him, so I took the football aiming to keep it a minute or two before giving it back. Not a good plan. Before I could let him know I was teasing and return it to him he was raising his hand and exclaiming, “I can’t find my football!” The teacher immediately stopped what the class was doing and asked for a room wide search. What was I to do? It probably would have been a good time to fess up and tell the whole sorry plan but that is not what I did. I put the football in my crayon box. The teacher came to our desks looking around everywhere. She asked me to look in my crayon box. I told her I did, and she said, “Look again.” I took off the lid and quickly put it back on telling her, “No, it’s not there.”
That afternoon when the three o’clock bell rang, I was very anxious to get out of there, carrying my crayon box with me. I arrived home, took the football out of the box and put it in a dresser drawer under a lot of clothing. I felt like I had Superman eyes and could see through the dresser and clothes to the football! I thought everyone would be able to see it too. I had to get rid of it.
My neighbor was a cousin to the owner of the football. I took the football out of its hiding place and threw it as hard as I could into the neighbor’s yard. I prayed their cousin would visit, see the football and say, “Hey, that’s my football!” I wanted him to have it back but not at the expense of my sin or reputation.
I will never forget that experience of sin and separation I felt with my teacher, peers, family, and neighbors. I told no one about the football until I was grown. I have told it since to many of my students when I was teaching school in hopes that they might count the cost before making poor choices.
In life we often make stupid decisions; some that lead to disastrous situations. We find ourselves at a crossroad. What do we do? If we choose the wrong solution, we find ourselves in sin. We can’t change it. We can’t rid ourselves of sin, but we can be forgiven.
I also learned a wonderful lesson about grace. The teacher had to know I was carrying that football home, yet she did not betray me. That day the grace of God was shown to me through the life of a teacher.
I don’t know the path my life might have taken had I been labeled as a thief by my peers in the third grade, but God has a plan. There is no place for “what ifs” in our lives. We all have our own path to travel. He will make all things good for those who believe in Him.
The Lord directs the steps of the godly.
He delights in every detail of their lives.
24 Though they stumble, they will never fall,
for the Lord holds them by the hand. Psalm 37:23-24