You would have recognized the signs, too. He avoided eye contact, guiltily looking away when I tried to engage with him. He slunk to his room rather than staying with me. His hand went to his pocket, caressing something secret and forbidden. He was definitely avoiding me.
I asked him, “Dear, is there something you need to tell me?”
You could see the struggle on his face. Finally, he reached into his pocket and pulled out the toy he had taken from his friend’s house.
At that moment, my son was struggling with making the choice to do the right thing. Our conversation later revealed that he had been afraid I would not love him anymore, scared to make it right, and fearful that it was too late to resolve. Though this happened years ago, it became the first of many, many conversations about the grace of doing the right thing.
This is something that I want my children to know, deep in their core:
Right now is always the right time to turn to Jesus. Right now is always the right time to say “I was wrong.” Right now is always the right time to do the right thing.
If you are breathing, it’s not too late. If you are wondering “Is it too late?” it’s not too late.
Oh, how I desperately want my children to understand grace. The grace that is extended to us as humans on this earth. The grace that God gives to turn away from a lifetime of sin and turn to Him. The grace that God gives when He redeems and restores even the messiest of situations, and gives a testimony that reflects His grace.
I’m so grateful for the little people in my life. They illustrate in small form what I manage to enlarge into very real challenges in my own life. The messiest messes I have made for myself are when I was afraid that it was too late to make something right. When I was convinced that it was too late to tell my parents or my boss, too late to apologize to a friend, too late to admit guilt. Or if I had let something become such a habit, such an ingrained response, that it seemed like it was too late to actually change something for the better (I’m looking at you, unhealthful eating habits). The travesty of “it’s too late” in my own life is superseded only by “I’ll do it tomorrow” in negative consequences in my life.
The good news, however, is that grace is God’s kindness to those who do not deserve it. This unmerited gift changes everything.
So how does this apply to my life? I often make choices that I realize later, with additional information, I would have made differently. Hindsight is 20/20, isn’t it? I’m much, much more likely to learn through experience and after the fact. The best thing to do is to say “I was wrong.” If I hurt someone in the process, to ask for forgiveness.
Would it have been better to take care of something right away? Yes. Is right now the best possible opportunity? Yes! May I never be too proud to say “I was wrong,” too insecure to say “I’m sorry,” and too bitter to say, “I want to listen to what you have to share.”
The best leaders I have known and worked for have had these things in common: They were willing to say “I was wrong. Knowing what I know now, it’s time to pivot.” They relinquished the need to be considered correct all the time. They let go of a fear of apologizing and sought reconciliation even when it was uncomfortable.
I’m so, so grateful for grace. Let us take Romans 12:9 as our anthem right now: “Let love be genuine. Abhor what is evil; hold fast to what is good.”
Let Love Be Genuine
The billboard and the t-shirt says, “Love is love.” Do you have love? Let it be genuine. Authentic, not counterfeit. Inspired and fueled by God, not conjured up with self-effort or insincerity.
Abhor What Is Evil
Christians have the opportunity—no, the necessity—to speak up for Christlikeness right now. Riots are wrong—we are called to be sober-minded and self-controlled. Threats of harm are wrong—we are called to love our neighbors. Circumventing the execution of just laws is wrong—God is a God of justice. Devaluing life through threats and action is wrong. No “but…” No “what about…” No “lesser of two evils.” Wrong is wrong. We abhor what is evil because we love.
Hold Fast to What Is Good
Where do you see good today? Hold fast to that, dear friend. The good of a sincere conversation with someone you don’t agree with. The good of a family meal. The good of a winsome, iron-sharpening-iron conversation rooted in Biblical truth, not an echo chamber of escalating “Yeah!” If you join me in being discouraged about the state of our culture today, join me in being encouraged as well: We serve a God who does good, makes good, and is the very definition of Good. May today be a search for good, and may you hold fast to it.
Let us be champions for life. Let us be examples of leadership. Let us be gracious, firm, and steadfast.
A note to the parents: our children are watching us, listening to us, and learning from us. How we talk about protests and riots and threats and words will influence how this next generation of voters votes, and how this next generation of church leaders lead. To paraphrase my wise dad, “Wherever you are is a great place to start. But it just might be a sad place to finish.” This moment in history is precisely where God placed us, for such a time as this. This week, how can your love be genuine? How will you abhor the evil and hold fast to the good?
“Truth without beauty can be a weapon; beauty without truth can be spineless. The two together are like lyric and melody.” —Andrew Peterson
And yes—if you are wondering, this post is about the election and its aftermath. How now shall we live? Perhaps you realize that you have been so fixated on one thing that you have been hurting others feeling the rejection of your other choices. Perhaps you have communicated more anger and frustration and opinion through your words, rather than winsomeness and truth and love. Right now is always the right time to do the right thing. Let us live with Christlikeness to those around us.