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“Sin is crouching at your door; it desires to have you, but you must rule over it.” (NIV)
I was six years old and in big trouble. I’d done something horrible.
It happened at the house of Diana, my nine-year-old neighbor, a tall, gentle girl who was kinder to me than all the other big kids.
A bunch of us were playing in Diana’s room when gravel crunching in the driveway announced the arrival of Diana’s father, a grizzly bear of a man – towering and burly, with a deep military voice. He was very strict and often barked orders to Diana and her little brothers, who knew they had better obey immediately.
We all knew.
When he drove up that day, everyone suddenly remembered a reason to go home.
I saw the sad look on Diana’s face as the other kids fled, so I stayed.
After tiring of board games, Diana picked up her baton and suggested we go outside to twirl; a hard-and-fast rule allowed no batons or balls inside the house. I grabbed my baton and couldn’t resist trying to impress Diana by whirling it around my neck.
The sound of shattering glass froze my heart as Diana’s bedside lamp crashed to the floor. Then the huge shadow of Diana’s father filled the doorway.
Diana intentionally stepped between her father and me as his face turned crimson and a large vein on his forehead began to pulsate. “Who’s responsible for this?” his voice boomed as he eyed the shards of ruined lamp on the floor.
Immobilized by fear, I stared mutely at the mess, unable to breathe.
Diana held up her baton and answered, “It’s my fault, Daddy.” She gently pushed me into the hallway and closed the door behind me.
I listened outside the door, quivering, as Diana’s dad shouted about rules, learning responsibility, and paying for a new lamp with her own money.
When I heard things escalating, I couldn’t take any more. I blindly ran, not stopping until I was in my own room, sobbing on my bed. I knew Diana was at that moment receiving the worst kind of punishment in my place. I deserved that belt, but she willingly took the pain for me.
I had to do something. I shook my piggy bank and gathered the handful of coins that fell out. Still weeping as I ran, I stumbled back to Diana’s front door.
Diana answered my knock with red, puffy eyes. Yet she smiled. I was forgiven. It made my heart hurt.
I held out my pitiful offering, knowing it wouldn’t be nearly enough to pay for the lamp. But Diana shook her head.
“No,” she said softly. “Keep your money. It was an accident. It’s all over now, so let’s not talk about it anymore.”
And we didn’t. Not that day. Not ever.
But I’ve never forgotten. Even now, decades later, a warm tear escapes when I think about Diana’s lamp. My friend willingly sacrificed herself on my behalf through every lash of that belt.
I realize now that in her selfless actions, Diana exemplified what Jesus did for me – and for you. He sacrificed Himself in our place, accepting our rightful punishment and loving us through every lash of the whip and pounding of nails into His flesh.
Even unto death.
How, then, can we not be moved when we consider the Sacrificial Lamb suffering so that we might have life everlasting?
“He was beaten that we might have peace; he was lashed – and we were healed!” (TLB)
Copyright © Debora M. Coty, used with permission.
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