After finishing fourth grade nothing was more important to me than going to camp. A single parent, my mother could not afford the $10 camp fee. At her suggestion I wrote to a relative who, to my everlasting joy, provided the money. My experience proved that camp and ten year old boys belong together.
The cabin where we stayed had two sides where the rooms were joined by a common sitting area in the middle. In this common area there was an old wooden rocking chair, the object of my sitting affection. Of course, it wasn’t long until I wasn’t content to restrict myself to the gentle rocking for which the chair was designed. My rocking became more exuberant as I treated it more like a swing than a piece of furniture. It was then that tragedy struck. The chair collapsed in a heap.
Although the counselor was not there, the other boys in the cabin were. This robbed me of both my dignity and any chance to come up with a believable story. Immediately, my crime was reported to the counselor and judgement was pronounced by a chorus of boys’ soprano voices. “Allen, you’re in trouble!” “You broke the chair and you’re going to get it!” And worst of all, “You’re going to have to pay for it!” The counselor came in and surveyed the damage as I stood there in utter horror. Although I don’t remember what he said, I do remember that he said he would talk to my mother when she came to pick me up.
I waited out the last couple of days of camp with a growing sense of dread. I wasn’t so worried about being in trouble with my mother. I had plenty of experience with that and knew that as bad as it got it would eventually pass. What worried me beyond anything else was the pain it would cause my mother to have to pay for that chair. As it was, my two brothers were living somewhere else because she couldn’t afford to have us all at home. I had only just come home after staying with someone else for awhile. I remembered that a few weeks earlier I had to search for the camp fee. What would my mother do when she found out I had broken a chair and she would have to pay for it? I could imagine my mother’s face at hearing this news. To cause her this pain was almost more than I could bear.
The final day of camp came. When I met her I found I couldn’t bring myself to tell her what happened. Instead I decided I would take her to meet my counselor and let him tell her. We had to search for him, my mother a bit confused as to what was so important about all this. When we found him, I introduced him to her and waited. They chatted for a few moments while I was in agony awaiting the moment of truth. As the conversation wound down the counselor looked at me knowingly and smiled. I realized the rocking chair incident wasn’t going to be mentioned. My crime was unreported. All I dreaded did not come to pass.
Someday I will have to face the Lord and report on what I have done with the life He has given me to live. When I think of that moment of truth I sometimes think of the failings, the shortcomings and feel again the flush of shame for sins committed. How can I face Him with these, knowing my guilt when He has paid such a price? Ah, but in Christ I have not only the forgiveness of sins but the assurance that “as far as the east is from the west, so far hath he removed our transgressions from us” (Psalm 103:12).
It is all of grace. No word of condemnation and a smile instead of a frown.