The Three Little Sinners: A Tale

Once upon a time, three little sinners lived in a small house in the country. The three sinners were often able to mask their bad behavior with good manners, keen wit and the gift of being easily satisfied with life. Sometimes, they were so good at it that they almost forgot they were sinners. However, particular sets of circumstances had a way of faithfully drawing out the bad behavior and parading it about with all the delicacy of an wild elephant. Such was the case upon the day our story begins.

On this day, all three sinners awoke irritable, ill and out of sorts. The smallest little sinner was provoked by a runny nose, headache, stifling congestion and disturbed sleep. She was the least practiced at ignoring her discomfort and hiding her sin so it was no wonder at all that she cried and cried all the day long, refusing to be consoled. She was perfectly determined to be unhappy, and--as I'm sure you well know--anyone who is perfectly determined to be unhappy will be perfectly successful.

The second little sinner woke up with an astonishing case of "The Naughties." Like a moth to a flame, he was drawn to every scrap of naughtiness to be found lying about the small house. And apparently, there were many. He began the morning by lying to his mother (who also happens to be our third, largest and most extravagant sinner) whilst looking her squarely in the eye. His indiscretion was discovered easily enough. When his mother corrected him, he took hold of another shred of naughtiness--

"Mamma?" the little sinner said, "I didn't even cry." Because the day was yet young, her patience still mostly untried and her last conversation with the Lord fairly recent, his Mamma calmly replied, "Son, I am not trying to make you cry; I am trying to teach you to obey God."

Awhile later, the second sinner discovered another bit of naughtiness hidden in a pile of wooden blocks on the floor. The smallest sinner was playing with the blocks, enjoying a brief window of contentment. The second sinner must have missed her unusually powerful cry. Abandoning all manner of self control, he grabbed a block and threw it with enthusiasm toward the head of the smallest little sinner who released a wail so profound the walls creaked and the tin roof clattered in response.

At this, the third sinner (who is said to be an adult) lost. her. mind. She did not yell (upon this instance), but delivered deadly looks to the second sinner as she attempted to console the smallest sinner without success. After the worst of the screeching subsided, the largest sinner grabbed the second sinner by the wrist, fixed him in her fiery gaze and proceeded to shame him. The second sinner was corrected once again, but there was no one to correct the largest sinner except the Holy Spirit, who delivers the most memorable corrections of anyone. The largest sinner was reminded that shame is the devil's game and has never led anyone to repentance. Only love can do that. (It's always rewarding to be compared with the devil.)

And so the largest sinner was driven to tears and apology. The second sinner received her apology with grace, and draped his arms about her shoulders in a forgiving embrace.

It would seem that all should be right with the world after such a moment, but that was not the case. The smallest sinner bawled and brayed until the mother realized an early nap was in order. The second sinner continued his naughty ways, making unnecessary noise while the smallest sinner slept, disobeying direct orders and sassing his Mamma (a serious offense in that part of the world). The smallest sinner was howling again within five minutes of being up from her nap. Physical discomfort, fatigue and frustration nipped and gnawed at the largest sinner who eventually released a cry of her own--"Aaaaaahhhhhhhhhhhhhhh!"

Of course, this did nothing to help matters in any way. The smallest sinner only cried louder, the second sinner was thoroughly amused, and the largest sinner who was already spent had expended unnecessary energy. 

Bedtime was met with relief by the largest sinner. She hurt all over and was dragging her limbs about as if they were burdened by heavy weights. She was sullen and withdrawn, disappointed with the day and her performance. She felt utterly defeated and was certain every word spoken, decision made and action carried out was the wrong one. She would ruin her children entirely!

As the largest sinner laid her head upon her pillow, the Holy Spirit reminded her, "Little sinner, I love you. I see into your very core. I know the depths of your wickedness, but you cannot guess the heights of my love. My blood was spilled for this day and the one tomorrow. You can neither parent so well that you will ensure the salvation of your children nor so poorly that you alone would be responsible for their damnation. Let go of your guilt. Your performance won't save you anyway. Only my love can do that."

And so the largest little sinner believed the Holy Spirit. She quieted her mind and eventually fell into an exhausted slumber, and there she stayed until the smallest sinner woke her at 4:15am howling like a banshee once again.

The largest sinner winced and quailed as she sat up, already guessing at the difficulty of the day. She was angry when her husband left early for the woods. She grew angrier when it became obvious she would not get anymore sleep. She felt overwhelmed when the second sinner woke at 6:45am demanding breakfast and asking many questions, which required her to speak before her preferred hour of 9:00am. Then, she remembered the Source of her help, spoke the word "grace,"and set about her duties and delight.

To be continued, I'm sure.....