When our kids were little, they usually accompanied us to youth group on Sunday evenings.
It was common for students or adults who were present to scoop them up and walk off with them, so it wasn’t too concerning if we lost track of one of them for a while.
One Sunday evening, however, the duration between sightings of my 18-month-old son exceeded the length with which I was comfortable. I decided it wise to inquire as to his whereabouts. I made my way around the fellowship hall, into adjacent classrooms and through the kitchen, but I couldn’t find him, and no one knew where he was. The little man was missing in action.
I rallied the youth group, and all 40-plus of us began scouring the entire facility while calling out his name. We couldn’t find him anywhere. As I made my way back toward the fellowship hall, a student ran up and informed me someone had found my little prodigal.
They led me to the kitchen, where a good portion of the youth group had gathered. They were all staring through a doorway into the pantry, trying to muffle their laughter. I looked through, and there, sitting in the middle of a shelf surrounded by bags of chips was my son. He had summited the second shelf using an economy-sized can of baked beans, opened a bag of chips and was quietly helping himself to the contents thereof.
I called his name to see what he’d do. He turned toward me, we made eye contact and he quickly ducked low behind another bag of chips, hoping against hope he hadn’t been seen. He knew he was somewhere he wasn’t supposed to be doing something he wasn’t supposed to be doing.
I have to admit I was too busy laughing to dole out any form of punishment, but it did strike me that at such an early age, he made an effort to conceal his actions.
In Genesis 3:8, we read that following humanity’s first foray off of the straight and narrow path, Adam and Eve hid. If we continue reading, we learn even after God found them, they still made every effort to hide the wrong they’d done. Adam and Eve ate forbidden fruit in the garden and hid. My son hid in the church pantry and ate forbidden chips.
Countless generations separate the two actions, but similarities abound. It seems fairly obvious to me that this character trait has been passed on from parent to child from the first parents to the present.
We’ve all got our problems. No one lives a perfect life because no person is perfect with Jesus being the lone exception. The struggle with sin is part of the human experience that none of us escapes. Unfortunately, so is hiding our issues and pretending we didn’t do anything wrong.
When we talk about integrity, we often think of being of strong moral character. The word, however, has much broader meaning and application. Integrity at its core is about being honest and genuine in our dealings.
Integrity then does not equal being error-free. Integrity is being honest about what we do and who we are while making every effort to do and be better. It is not only highlighting when we get it right but being willing and able to reveal when we’ve gotten it wrong with the hopes of doing better in the future.
James 5:16 says, “Therefore confess your sins to each other and pray for each other so that you may be healed.” We fool no one and we do ourselves no favors when we pretend to be without sin. Our natural inclination, from a very early age apparently, is to hide our faults, failures and issues.
Almost any recovery group will tell you how counterproductive this is. The first step to healing and restoration is admitting there was a problem in the first place. When we work to stay hidden, we prevent meaningful movement from happening.
Instead, we need to have integrity, to own our issues, step out into the open and walk into the future with those who know and love us, those who will dust off the crumbs of our wandering and will restore us to our proper place among them.
The Rev. Jeremy Myers is the lead pastor of First Baptist Church in Seymour. Read his blog at jeremysmyers.com. Send comments to [email protected] mediaindiana.com.