When my cousin was young, she spent a lot of time in the closet. Not because she liked it there, especially. Mostly it was to give my aunt Stephanie a few minutes of respite from her antics.
It really wasn’t so bad in the closet, which was actually a tiny room with a comfortable chair, a window that opened, and books and blankets and pillows. And a door. The door was always closed unless the closet was occupied, since, unlike a bedroom door, which opens in to the room, this one opened out to the hallway, blocking traffic.
My cousin was a bright, inquisitive, and determined preschooler who was very creative, and very fast. And thus, long before the term “time out” was coined, she spent many an afternoon “in the closet.”
One summer afternoon, so the story goes, my cousin was outside playing. I can picture her, with her dark curly hair and rosy cheeks, a chubby bundle of energy happily immersed in some shenanigan or another.
Aunt Stephanie had learned long before to keep one ear tuned to the tell tale sounds of mischief in the making. It had been awhile, and Aunt Stephanie had heard neither whisper nor word from my cousin. Just as she was beginning to wonder what trouble the silence was signaling, she heard the screen door slam, followed by the sound of little feet running across the hard wood floor. Before Aunt Stephanie could reach the living room, she heard my cousin call out exuberantly, “Open up the door, Steph, I’m coming in!”
I love that story, which for years has been told over and over at family reunions and
get-togethers. I love that my cousin was absolutely certain about the end result of her
behavior. She knew beyond the shadow of a doubt where she would end up, and she accepted the outcome with her typical enthusiasm.
That’s how I want it to be when I die. I want to know, without a doubt, where I’m going and why. I want the assurance that I will be spending eternity in the most wonderful place in all of creation. And when my time comes, I want to call out with joyful confidence, “Open up the gates, Lord, I’m coming in!”
Yet, I have doubts. I have a little voice in my head that tells me I’m not good enough, not holy enough, not prayerful enough. I yell at my kids, I swear when I get cut off in traffic, and once when I was five years old, I stole my cousin’s eraser.
But here’s the thing. God, in His infinite mercy, has made provisions for slackers like me. The bible tells us, “The Lord our God is merciful and forgiving, even though we have rebelled against him” (Daniel 9:9) ;
John 1:9 promises, If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just and will forgive us our sins and purify us from all unrighteousness.”
So, when I hear those little voices, when I mess up on a day-to-day basis, I know it is important to silence those voices. I must not let myself be defeated. Instead, I need to confess my sins, thank God for His loving mercy, and rest assured that when my time comes, I’ll call out ahead, “Open up the gates, Lord, I’m on my way!”
Do you feel defeated by sin and bad habits? What helps you to stay positive and to keep trying? What helps you to remember that you are a child of the Lord who is waiting to welcome you with open arms?