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Embrace the gift of repentance

This week I was reading a devotional about repentance and how it’s always the first step away from sin and the returning steps to renewed fellowship with the Father. I immediately thought about a camping experience with the grands last week.

When we selected our campsite on the park map, we didn’t realize just how perfect the actual spot would be. Giant pines were situated in perfect proximity for the kids to hang their hammocks in a giant circle where they would spend hours swinging and flipping each other.

A carpet of pine needles made soft landings for games of leaping from the hammocks, and the paved road winding through the park was ideal for their scooter and zip stick rides. But the lake adjacent to our site was the real draw.

Even though the fish weren’t interested in any of our lures or bait, the water’s edge held clear views of schools of tiny fish, frightened turtles and enough rocks to keep the water churning.

The large tree that had been uprooted near the lake shore and fallen 20-plus feet into the lake added to the scenic beauty at the water’s edge— or so I thought. For our grands, age 13 to 6, it was a semi-submerged sea creature, cargo ship and a balancing game all in one.

Soon after we arrived and the camp fire was glowing, Othel and I gathered more wood for the fire. James, our youngest, walked up with his red tennis shoes soggy with gray mud and his socks and pants wet to his knees. The sea creature had thrown him, but at least it was in the shallow edge.

Without going into a grandmother ballistic mode, I told him he could change into dry clothes and wear his other pair of tennis shoes. The lecture came later about the lake being much too cold and dark for water games. The log was off limits— simply for their safety.

The next day Othel and I were roasting hot dogs and setting the table when I heard James wailing. I aborted my mission and rushed to find him with no bumps, scratches or wet clothes_ just tears that he kept smearing through the camp dirt on his face.

“What’s wrong?” I asked bending close to him.

Through sobs he wailed louder, “I didn’t know what to do!” His older brother Major had asked him to stand on the base of the downed tree — close to the water but not actually in it. James had joined him, but suddenly conviction engulfed him, and he was the little prodigal returning to confess the pull of right against wrong.

   He so wanted to be adventurous like his older brother, but he also remembered the off limits instruction. Tears of repentance flowed as I consoled him. I didn’t tell him that I knew it would be the first of many temptations to come. It was time for rejoicing instead.

God had blessed a 6-year-old with one of his greatest gifts— repentance, and someday the Holy Spirit would make James’ heart his home, and he would bring instructions for life and power to follow them. From that point on, James’ heart would tell him what to do.

Letters to Camille Anding can be sent to P.O. Box 551, Brookhaven, MS, 39602, or e-mailed to camille@datalane.net.