It was a cool, overcast day as I worked in my garage. My wife had stolen away for an hour-long coffee date with a friend from church and I was watching our four little ones while cutting wood for a home décor project. Note the painfully dad-like description of my activities: woodworking while supervising our children. Believe me, the irony is not lost in my mind either. Nevertheless, the day was progressing swimmingly as my children screamed with laughter on the playground in our backyard as I gloated in amazement over the fact that I was able to properly measure and cut my boards despite their being warped and bowed.
In the middle of my project, my lovely wife returned home refreshed and revived after being with another Christian woman who lifted her spirits and allowed her to adjourn from her motherly duties for a spell. After enjoying a leisurely discussion with my wife about the progress of my efforts, I returned to the garage for a few more cuts. It was then my son’s cry caught my attention. Despite my ill-timed woodworking project, I am still blessed to be able to ascertain my children’s shrieks and triage them from mild irritation to missing limb. Unfortunately, this cry was elevated at least two notches above the level of being frustrated over a stolen toy. As I looked up from my saw, I was horrified to see my youngest son being carried to me by his older sister – with blood dripping from his right foot.
As crimson droplets splattered in the sawdust, I took my red-faced son into our kitchen and plopped him on our dining room table. My wife quickly retrieved our stash of bandages and some peroxide. As I began cleaning his wound, I could see that the tip of his big toe was split wide open. From our table I could see our other boys in the back yard; one was playing while the other was pacing nervously. Although I knew who to interrogate, it would have to wait until I could get the bleeding to subside. Three bandages later, I was able to hand my little patient off to his momma while I proceeded to the back yard to confront my other son. Praying for grace and wisdom, I approached the doe-eyed little boy standing with his hands in his pockets looking absolutely defeated.
“What happened?” I asked. Immediately tears filled my son’s eyes as he muttered, “I rolled a big rock down the slide and he got in the way.” Fighting the urge to question the necessity of rolling large stones down a plastic slide, I settled. “Where is the rock?” I asked. Without a word, my son led me away from the playground and over to a row of tall hedges. As he began to walk under the brush of the hedges, I called out to him and asked, “Where are you going?” He turned by the side of a blue garden shed and pointed behind it. It was in that moment that I realized what he had done. A sense of peace filled me as verses of Scripture flashed in my mind, verses that speak of God’s sovereignty, Christ’s atonement, and the Lord’s purposes of working in all things to conform us into the image of Jesus.
My son disappeared behind the shed and returned with a stone that was barely smaller than a volleyball! Straining to set it down in front of me, he looked up in silence. I bent down and asked him if he had hidden the rock after hurting his brother. With pursed lips and watery eyes, he nodded his little head. I probed further by asking, “Did you feel bad and want to get rid of the rock?” Again, he nodded. With a rush of compassion, I reminded him of the story of Adam and Eve and how, after sinning, hid in the bushes when the Lord walked in the Garden. I reminded him that they were convicted of their guilt and wanted to hide in the same way he wanted to hide the rock, the object that represented his transgression. With his mind stayed on Genesis 3, I asked him one last penetrating question: “Can we really hide our sins from God?” With tears on his cheeks and his big blue eyes reddened by restraining his sobs, he said, “No.” We spent quite a while talking about sin, God’s scrutinizing judgment, and our need for Jesus. It was a joy to see my little boy thinking about the dual realities of the horror of our sin and the glory of the bleeding Savior who suffered for them. My parting words to him were simple: “Jesus died for our sins, so we don’t have to hide like Adam did. We are forgiven.”
I was overwhelmed with fresh appreciation and love for Christ as I returned to my waiting spouse in the kitchen. I began to relay to her the momentous encounter that God had brought to pass with my son when he burst into the kitchen with an air of relief and excitement. He smiled and asked, “Can we write on the rock?” Assuming what he meant, I grabbed a black permanent marker and followed my son back to the infamous gray rock by the garden shed. With my son at my side, I bent down and wrote on the rock in capital letters: FORGIVEN. As if the weight of the stone itself had been lifted from his little shoulders, he thanked me and bounded off to continue playing on the swing set as before. I took a photo of that rock as a memorial to God’s gracious provision of a platform for the gospel amidst the daily grind of parenting. I could not have prepared a better, more effective illustration to teach my son about the necessity of repentance and faith than the one provided for us that fateful day. Adam hid in God-defying rebellion in the Garden. The Second Adam glorified, obeyed, and revealed the Father so that sinners like us could love and enjoy God forever. Paul tells us plainly, “Therefore, as one trespass led to condemnation for all men, so one act of righteousness leads to justification and life for all men” (Rom. 5:18). We cannot hide our rocks, but we can hide ourselves in the Rock who was broken for us. Blessed be the Lamb who was slain!