“She’s stealing my chalk!” Anna yelled, outraged. “What?” I ask. “What are you talking about?” “Some girl just walked by and stole my chalk!”
After colorfully decorating our whole sidewalk, my kids left a tray of chalk sitting in front of our house. Some girl (probably junior high age), walking with an adult, both of whom presumably know better, picked up the tray and took it with her. When Anna and I went out to check, the girl was a block away. She looked back and saw us watching her in disbelief, but she kept going, looking back every little bit but holding the tray in front of her so we couldn’t tell if she had it or not. The kids wanted to chase after her, but I said no, it’s their own fault for leaving the chalk where it didn’t belong.
Later, we discovered the tray – missing half its chalk, but at least we got some of it back. It was in the grass on the far side of a tree about a block from our house. My kids were still in shock. They couldn’t believe someone would take something of theirs. Even though they left it there, she should have known they didn’t want her to take it. They felt personally violated, and didn’t want to accept any of the responsibility for what happened.
How often do we blame someone else for what we’ve allowed that person to take from us? Satan is the author of confusion, and Jesus is the Prince of Peace. As soon as we stop watching, the enemy will try to steal what God has given us. If we suddenly notice our sense of peace is gone, we need to stop and think:What opportunity did we create for someone to come in and steal from us? What door did we leave open? Sometimes it’s not even that we actively did anything wrong. We didn’t open the door, but we didn’t lock it, either. Maybe we didn’t start a misunderstanding – but we also didn’t actively stop it. Maybe we allowed questionable behavior rather than taking a stand and making sure our friends understand our position on right and wrong. Perhaps we perpetuated a false assumption or an implied insinuation because we didn’t want to risk being judged once we declared where we stood on that issue.
When it comes right down to it, though, we’re here as ambassadors for Christ. We are to represent God’s holy standards to His people – and make sure all the credit for doing right is pointed back to Him. People watch us, you know, waiting for us to fail. They jump at the chance to expose us, because it makes them feel better about their own failings. Sure, we’ll mess up, probably over and over again. But when we do, we need to learn a very important lesson: don’t do it again. And never, ever leave our chalk in the middle of the sidewalk.