Photo: Simon Law - (CC BY-SA 2.0)

Photo: Simon Law – (CC BY-SA 2.0)

 There is a charm about the forbidden that makes it unspeakably desirable.

~Mark Twain

My name is Vincent, and I am seven years old. I’m small for my age. My mom put the chocolate cake on the counter, just out of my reach…

She had picked me up from the school playground forty five minutes ago. I could smell the icing on the drive home.

“What’s in the box?”
“It’s a cake for your sister’s birthday tomorrow,” she said, eyeing me in the rear-view.
Something in the way she looked at me told me I wasn’t allowed to peek.

The phone rang right as we were coming through the door. Grandma.
I had time.

I could go outside and pick up the orange basketball that I gotten for Christmas.
I could turn on cartoons and avoid the ‘Making Math Fun’ worksheet I knew I would have to do later that weekend.
I could do the worksheet first, and…
But that wasn’t what I wanted.

I moved towards the kitchen table, and grabbed the back of a chair.
Grabbing the backs of chairs is perfectly legal. I couldn’t get in trouble for that.

moved it towards the counter.

Also legal. And it wasn’t necessarily in the direction of the counter. It was also in the direction of the pantry. There was cereal in the pantry.

I could live with that.

But I stopped at the counter.

Keep moving it towards the pantry. I thought to myself.
The chair didn’t move.
What are you doing? I lied.
Grabbing and moving chairs was legal. Climbing onto the counter next to the cake was legal. I was fine. I wasn’t doing anything wrong…yet.

Photo: jules - (CC BY 2.0)

Photo: jules – (CC BY 2.0)

My hand began to reach for the box. It stopped cold. There, staring me right in the face
was a top notch security system.

Two strips of nearly invisible scotch tape sealed the lid.

I was in too deep.

She’s going to catch you.

I didn’t care. I scratched the tape with my fingernails, it’s incriminating residue collecting on my cuticle.

Soon I was staring into the box of chocolate freedom. I took my hand and shoveled a coveted corner piece like a Caterpillar earth mover.

The cake was oily delicious. Splotches of icing fell from my hand as though I were a bear extracting honey from a honeycomb. The colored icing landscaped the counter amidst the chocolate crumbs.

Time stopped. This moment would be forever. The future with all it’s consequences simply did not exist.




The kitchen clock ticked.


Photo: Brett Jordan - (CC BY 2.0)

Photo: Brett Jordan – (CC BY 2.0)

Crumb Cake

If temptation is an invitation to violation by means of justification, then I think self-control is the ability to rip the invitation to shreds.

By why tear up perfectly good stationery? Why say ‘no’?

Because to say ‘yes’ to something, you have to say ‘no’ to something else. Temptation is saying ‘yes’ to sin, and ‘no’ to the Cross.

“No” to Jesus.
“No” to Eternity.
“No” to His reward because we are like ‘…an ignorant child, who wants to go on making mud pies in a slum because he cannot imagine what is meant by the offer of a holiday at the sea. We are far too easily pleased.’ ( C.S. Lewis paraphrased).

Saying ‘No’ is saying that all of heaven isn’t enough, and the thing right in front of us is in fact better.

And if every journey begins with a single step, then the misstep of moving chairs is just as much in the wrong direction as the mental step to think upwards of earth and into heaven is in the right one.

Self-control is free to shred with all the fervor of heaven because it knows that heaven is more than enough. It’s ‘yes’ is already decided.






Respond: Self-Control can be a real bear! In what ways are we like Vincent? How can we think of eternity, and better things? Share in the  comments!