The sign read, “We’re grounded [sic] 4 stealing & sneaking out—HONK if you agree with grounding.”
The sign read, “We’re grounded [sic] 4 stealing & sneaking out—HONK if you agree with grounding.” And there they stood, in the front page picture of the South Bend Tribune this week, with a truly forlorn expression on both their young faces—April, 12, and Patrick Kraniak, 13, grounded by their mother for the above-mentioned offenses for the rest of the summer. Grounded, in this case, meaning sitting at a picnic table in their front yard in Mishawaka, Indiana—with a neon poster board inscribed with their “HONK if you agree with our sentencing” sign. (Both children admitted to the reporter that they had indeed committed the infractions.) No running off to play, no television breaks—just a day-after-day sentence at that front yard table, with maternal permission to go inside the house for bathroom breaks or when it rains. Whazzup with all of this? Child abuse by an angry parent? Their mother, Rita Strang, explains her punishment (which, by the way, her husband is firmly supporting): “‘I have nine kids, my oldest (two) are in prison, and I don’t want to see any of the others go in. Having them in prison has torn up the family and it breaks everybody’s heart.” And so Mother Strang “is determined to keep her other children out of trouble, even if she has to get a little creative” (SBT 6-23-10). Will it work? Stay tuned for an end-of-summer report. Nothing like a little remorse and public shaming to get you to amend your ways, right? For my morning worships I’ve been reading the new paperback edition of that classic on the life of Christ, Desire of Ages, now updated with the NKJV—and I’ve been immensely blessed. But just this week I came to the heart-breaking story of Peter’s vehement three-fold denial that he never knew the abused Prisoner inside. And your heart always tears up, doesn’t it, when you come to that sentence in Luke’s account, “And the Lord turned and looked at Peter” (Luke 22:61 NKJV). “While the degrading oaths were fresh upon Peter's lips, and the shrill crowing of the cock was still ringing in his ears, the Saviour turned from the frowning judges, and looked full upon His poor disciple. At the same time Peter's eyes were drawn to his Master. In that gentle countenance he read deep pity and sorrow, but there was no anger there. The sight of that pale, suffering face, those quivering lips, that look of compassion and forgiveness, pierced his heart like an arrow” (DA 712, 713). No justly-deserved shaming, no public condemnation, nothing but the forgiving grace of the Savior’s unrelenting love and mercy that broke the big fisherman’s heart. “So Peter went out and wept bitterly [“and cried and cried and cried”—The Message]” (v 62). The tears are ours, too, are they not? Today—both here at Pioneer Memorial Church and in Atlanta for the 59th General Conference session of the Seventh-day Adventist Church—grace will be front and center. Here as we celebrate the sacred, joyous communion with the Lord of Calvary. And there as we celebrate the nine-day theme, “Proclaiming God’s Grace.” Because whether here, there or anywhere, the truth the world is dying to hear is the truth of the God who was grounded in our place at Calvary—suffering for our shame, dying for our sins, rising again for our salvation. If only the world could know our Savior—think of the billions who would be freed from their honking guilt and shame. No wonder we must still pray for the outpouring of “the Spirit of grace and supplication” (Zech 12:10) upon both church and world for such a time as this!