When I was in elementary school, my best friend was David Brown. Every morning I would stop by his house so we could walk the last five blocks to school together. We attended the same church and sang in the children’s choir. After school we would usually end up at his home or mine for whatever adventure we could dream up.
One of those adventures involved the deep woods across from my house. We lived near a lumber mill and logging trucks rumbled by throughout the day. We aspired to be loggers, so at the tender age of nine, we “borrowed” my dad’s hatchet and started chopping. It took us three days of swinging our mighty hatchet to finally watch the tall red alder begin to wobble. When it fell, David and I leaped out-of-the-way to watch. Unfortunately the woods were thick and the tree did not crash to earth, but came to rest on another tree. So David and I would climb the half-fallen tree, bouncing up and down, pushing it to the earth. We left the tree to rot on the ground and went off in search for some new adventure.
Over the next couple of years we probably chopped down 10-15 trees. Our parents never knew of our “adventures.” David and I both moved away in sixth grade and our logging days were over.
I write about this experience, because at the time it seemed so innocent, yet now it troubles me. It was a secret I kept from my parents. Our chopping trees was simply for our pleasure and served no useful purpose. Our behavior could have hurt either of us seriously. We had no respect for the creation God had given to us nor for our neighbor’s land. Perhaps most troubling, at the time we had no idea we were doing anything wrong. Could I be doing something today that I don’t realize is harmful to God or my neighbor?
As we prepare to confess our sin on Ash Wednesday, let us be mindful that sin can come in various forms and disguises. Let us ask God to cleanse us of known and unknown sin, and to lead us out of darkness into light.
Has sin every troubled you?