Grace in the ice cream store
Owen stood with his little toes dangling over the edge of the car door, tears streaming down his cheeks. His older brothers (Cal and Brennan) and I were already opening the front door of the ice cream store when I turned around and noticed him still standing there.
I let Cal and Brennan head in to pick out their flavor while I went back to the car to help Owen.
“What happened, baby?” I asked as I took him in my arms.
“I can't get my shoes on, mama.”
“Oh simple,” I thought, as I explained to Owen, “Well, all you need to do is tell someone you need help and we would love to help you.”
He began to cry again, “I did. I told Cal. But he didn't help me. He just ran into the store.”
“I’m sorry love. Let’s go talk to Cal about that,” I said as I helped Owen get his shoes on and carried him on my hip into Baskin Robbins.
After we ordered our ice cream, I set Brennan and Owen up at one table while I asked Cal to join me at another.
"Cal, do you know why Owen was crying?” I asked as we took our first bite of ice cream together.
Cal sat silently. I waited silently. And when he realized I really wasn't going to say anything else until I heard from him, he spoke up.
“He asked me for help with his shoes and I didn't help him.”
“Okay. Can you tell me why you chose not to help him?”
“Because I wanted to get into the ice cream store, mom.”
"And what did your actions reveal?"
Silence again. Then he whispered, "That I was only thinking about myself."
"Can I ask you another question?" I whispered back.
“Yes,” he exhaled in a way that suggested he wished I’d stop talking.
“When Owen was asking you for help, and you made the decision to jump out of the car instead, was there anything inside of you saying something like, "Help your brother. Be kind to your brother. Think about the needs of your brother and not just your own desires."
“Yes” he exhaled again, but seeming a little less annoyed this time.
"Okay, so tell me more about that" I inquired.
Cal continued……. “I knew I wasn't doing the right thing but I really wanted to get ice cream. So I ignored Owen.”
Ah honesty. I love honesty.
“Well, first Cal, I want you to know I really appreciate you being honest with me. It’s not easy to admit our mistakes and I’m proud of you for being so honest. And you know what else I want you to know, buddy? That feeling. That voice. However you hear it or feel it, do you know what that is?
Cal didn’t hesitate. One word, he spoke. “God.”
I smiled. “Yep. That's Gods spirit. The Holy Spirit. It's the gift God has given you to teach you. Lead you. Guide you. Convict you. His Spirit leads you in truth."
John 14:15-17 (NLT)
"If you love me, obey my commandments. And I will ask the Father, and he will give you another Advocate, who will never leave you. He is the Holy Spirit, who leads into all truth."
"You know what else," I continued, "Mommy feels that conviction too. And sometimes I listen and sometimes I don't. Sometimes I choose wisely and listen. And sometimes my heart just wants what it wants when it wants it (sin) and I ignore Gods leading. It's part of being sinful. But you know what I'm learning. Listening to that voice, that feeling, of the Holy Spirit, always, and I mean always leads to life. And ignoring that voice always leads to trouble.”
By this time Brennan and Owen were full blown wrestling on the Baskin Robbins floor (ewww) and new customers were wondering why they didn't have any parents. So I called Brennan and Owen over to us and I didn’t even need to tell Cal what to do next.
“Owen, I’m sorry,” Cal offered. And they hugged each other tight.
As we all finished our ice cream together I gave Cal what I always try to remember to give our boys after I help them see their mistakes or sin. (the key words being “try to remember” – trust me, it doesn’t always happen)
I explained, “You know why God gives you his Spirit? Because he loves you like crazy cakes. Always has. Always will. And even when you ignore it, He won't stop loving you and he won't stop giving his Spirit to you. In fact you know what the Bible says about what happens when we ignore God and do what we want? The Bible says Jesus comes running after us. He keeps pursuing us. Like in the parable of the lost sheep…….
Luke 15:4-7 So Jesus told them this story: “If a man has a hundred sheep and one of them gets lost, what will he do? Won’t he leave the ninety-nine others in the wilderness and go to search for the one that is lost until he finds it? And when he has found it, he will joyfully carry it home on his shoulders. When he arrives, he will call together his friends and neighbors, saying, ‘Rejoice with me because I have found my lost sheep.’ In the same way, there is more joy in heaven over one lost sinner who repents and returns to God than over ninety-nine others who are righteous and haven’t strayed away!
Not only does He never (ever!) give up on us. He always comes after us, to bring us home. And He keeps giving us His Spirit to melt and mold us more into His image. There is always grace waiting for us.