What a tangled web we weave when first we practice to deceive.
And what a sad day it was when my baby girl lied to me for the first time last week.
I could almost see the devil, dressed in red and leaning on a pitchfork on her right shoulder, telling her to do it.It only took her a few seconds to decide to ignore the angel on the right shoulder.
It was the first time I saw her struggle with whether to lie or tell the truth.
It was a sad day.
Here's how it all happened:
Michaela loves books. She has a bookcase full of them and sometimes she will come running to me in the middle of the day with a stack of them for me to read.
I love it.
But what I don't love is when I go into her room and she's got a pile of books in the middle of the floor.
So I've been trying to teach her to take down one book at a time.
"Take one down, then put one back," I always say.
One day last week, I went into my bedroom and she had a stack of books on the bed. I told her to go put all of them back on the shelf and pick one that she wanted to read. I walked away.
A short time later, I walked back into my room and discovered she had one book still on the bed and another one stuffed under her shirt, trying to hide it from me.
"Did you put the other books away?" I asked, wondering what she'd say.
She looked at me, squirmed, then looked away and said, slowly, "yes, mommy."
It nearly broke my heart. Here was my little baby, who had always told mommy the truth.
But the Devil convinced her in those few short seconds that:
1.) her will to keep two books at a time was stronger than her will to please her mommy;
2.) that her mommy couldn't possible know that she had a book stuffed under her shirt; and
3.) that she actually had the option of telling a lie.
Wrong on all counts.
"I can't believe you let the Devil make you lie to mommy," I said. "You are not smarter than mommy. You will have to live a long time to be smarter than mommy and by that time, I will be way smarter than I am now. You can't lie to me and get away with it."
Then I caught myself. How could this be? I was --gulp!-- turning into my mother. She used to say that exact same thing to me so many years ago.
And I remember thinking exactly what Michaela was thinking:
1.) that my will to do what I wanted to do was stronger than my will to please my mother;
2.) that there was no way she could know I was up to no good; and
3.) that telling the truth in some cases was, if nothing else, simply detrimental to my backside.
And it took me years to realized that my mother was right. In my defense, she wasn't always right, but she was more right than wrong. In fact, I'd be a millionaire if I had a dollar for every time I gambled my mother was wrong and found out she was right.
But back then,I thought I knew better. I was young and invincible, and I was definitely smarter than my mother.
Too bad I didn't realize that my momma could see right through my lying and scheming, just like I could see a huge book protruding from Michaela's t-shirt. And too bad I didn't realize how many mistakes and tragedies I could avoid if I just listened to my wise mother.
What's even crazier is that I still do that with God. Here's this great, big, powerful, all-knowing God, who knows everything about me and yet I think I can fool him. He has the master plan for my life, and he knows the mistakes I will make before we even make them. Yet I think I can convince him that I'm doing all I can, that I'm living as best I can, that I'm the best Christian I can be, when he knows better.
The Bible tells us that God knows even the number of hairs on our heads (Luke 12:7), that he knows the secrets of our hearts (Psalms 44:21) and that sees everything we do (Proverbs 15:3).
We can hide our flaws and our pain from our closest friends. We can pretend to be more than we are to our families. We can lie to our spouses. We can cheat on our taxes. We can even fool our parents sometimes.
But we can't fool God.
And I'll tell Michaela like my mom used to tell me: If you can't fool God, you sure can't fool your mommy. Why? Because your mommy talks to God every day and he tells her things.