Before having children of my own, I thought I knew a lot about parenting. It seems I knew more about parenting then than I do now, after fourteen years of fatherhood.
A few months ago we had one of those parenting days. It was Sunday, and our kids had been terrible all day. They were terrible before church. They were terrible on the way to the church. They were terrible at church. They were also terrible on the way home from church, and then terrible at lunch. Had we gone to the pool that afternoon, they would’ve been terrible there, too.
We could not figure out what was going on, but I was losing it. By that evening I’d had it. The smallest infraction that might have been overlooked on any other day, now had the effect of a nuclear bomb. And there were bombs going off all over our house at bedtime. Then I truly lost it. I yelled and hollered in a way I never had before, and it made my kids cry as they lay in their beds.
I felt awful.
By the time all my self-righteous indignation had worn down, they were asleep and I was left in despair. I kept trying to justify my anger but I couldn’t, and then I just felt terrible again. The idea of waking them up and apologizing for my sinful anger kept running through my head. But I could not do it.
Maybe you haven’t done this as a parent, but maybe you have as a husband or friend. You said or did something unkind to someone, then the day was done and you were left wide awake to feel the weight of the guilt of it. It’s a pretty dark place. It’s hard enough to face your sin, but to know that your sin has truly hurt someone else is just downright painful.
It’s a dark place, and the need for light is real.
In the midst of delivering God’s prophecy against Israel, Micah gets very personal. He confesses his own sin. Then he says that God will be a light to him in a dark place (Micah 7:8), and that God will plead his cause and vindicate him (v. 9). In other words, Micah turned toward God in humble repentance, knowing that God would be there for him, gracious and forgiving.
It took me awhile to get there, but that is where I ended up: humbled. Instead of wallowing in my guilt all night, I went to God and repented. The gospel was the light I needed in that dark place, knowing that Jesus has already pleaded my cause with His blood, and I am already vindicated because of His completed work on the cross—not because of my own works.
I still looked forward to apologizing to my kids the next morning. But when I went to bed that night, I went in the full security of the gospel, which is good news for sinners.
Written by Matthew B. Redmond