I was about 10 years old and because I was the only boy, and eight years younger than my sister, I got away with a lot. The 1950s was a good time to grow up. Even though the nation was just recovering from the ravages of war, and food was not plentiful, freedom was not taken lightly, and we were trusted. Trusted to act properly, and above all to tell the truth. We didn't know it, but we were being taught thankfulness and integrity at the same time.
My dad was a good and Godly man. He was easy to look up to, respect, and love. We didn't talk much about love then, but we knew it and could feel it. Love was all around us, and tangible. However a love like that has to be tested, and even as a 10 year old, I knew a day of testing would come, and it did.
Like many others, my dad had a small plot of land to grow much needed vegetables, and I would go with him on a Saturday morning, straddled over the crossbar of his bike on the 10 minute cycle to the days work. My attraction was not the work on the ground, but in the fact that we were a short walk to Palm Beach, and whether the tide was in or out, there was adventure. Sliding in the wet mud, or throwing stones and skimmers was allowed, but the last words spoken by my dad were always, "don't go in the water". Tell a child often enough not to do something, and guess what happens? The urge to do the forbidden thing grows inside you until that itch just has to be scratched.
The day came when I broke my word, but I figured, he will never know, because I would paddle up to my knees, and will be completely dry again by the time I got back to the hut at the plot. The plan was foolproof, so I took my shoes and socks off, and rushed into the River Clyde. It felt so good. I had got away with disobeying my dad, no one would ever know, and it was a good feeling into the bargain. That feeling lasted about 10 seconds, because in my rush I slid on a submerged seaweed covered rock, and I went down. Not only that, I went under, and was completely and totally soaked. The game was up, and I knew it, so back to the hut at the plot I trudged, knowing that judgement was mine. Not only that, but my punishment was deserved. I had gone against the only thing my dad had asked of me, and now it was obvious to anyone who saw me walk back from the river, that I was saturated from head to toe. The only dry things were my shoes and socks, which I carried.
My dad saw me coming, and I had no time to hide, or even get an excuse ready. My deserved punishment was coming, and I knew it was my own fault. I said the only thing I could and I meant it. "I'm sorry dad". It was enough. He didn't give me what I deserved for disobeying, and instead with a father's love, he told me to sit by the wood stove in the hut and stay warm, while he peddled back to the house for dry and clean clothes. My dad made sure I was safe, dry and forgiven. Forgiven. What a lovely word. Many years later I see the episode as a parallel to God's ready forgiveness for our wilful sin, when we do something thinking, "He'll never know", but we learn that to get His total forgiveness, all we have to do is say and mean those simple words, "I'm sorry Dad", and He will. But we have to ask first. I am glad my earthly dad forgave me, but more glad that my Heavenly Father forgave me. Just a thought, have you said sorry to God?
This also reminded me of the old Sunday School verse in Numbers 32:23: "Be sure your sin will find you out". It was true then, and it is still true now.