There are a few photos in the memory book my mom made that show me with clenched fists and a temper grimace. I suppose that’s because I had quiet a temper back then. I suspect it’s likely Dad often wondered what he might do to teach me tantrums were really not appropriate behavior.
Corrugated tin roofs were very common out in Apolo, the Andean foothill town where I spent my first through third grades. Gutters and down-spouts collected the rain water off our tin roofs and filled fifty-five gallon steel barrels at the corners of our buildings. A muslin dish towel stretched across the top of the drum filtered the water and kept bugs and debris out of this source of soft drinking water. In an environment where we did not have reliable running water or a bath tub or a shower, the water barrels also became a solution to my temper tantrums.
Dad has often apologized especially for the time he forgot about me as I stood in the chest deep water of the barrel longer than he had intended. I don’t have any recall of how many times I had to undergo the cooling off treatment, but it seems to me not long after the rain barrel discovery there was a significant curbing of my outbursts.
I’ve been wondering how long it would take for this story to find it’s way into my telling, where it would fit the good news purpose. The good news about God’s desire for a good relationship with us comes to us like a coin, with two sides. One side is all Good News, the story of God becoming a man to take on Himself the sin of humanity in death on a cross and to prove His power over both sin and death by His resurrection, the story of God’s forgiveness that brings us into a good relationship with Him. But for the good news side of the coin to make any sense to us, we need to first see the other side of the coin. The other side is called Law. The Law tells us that we are unacceptable to God, sinners, temper tantrum people in need of a good water barrel soaking. It’s not until we realize how bad we really are, how desperately lost we are because of our disobedience and sin, that the Good News will make any sense.
“But now the righteousness of God has been manifested apart from the law, although the Law and the Prophets bear witness to it – the righteousness of God through faith in Jesus Christ for all who believe. For there is no distinction: for all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God, and are justified by his grace as a gift, through the redemption that is in Christ Jesus, whom God put forward as a propitiation by his blood, to be received by faith.”