Satan is insidious. We all know that in our hearts. He will attack anyone — even a child. I was around thirteen when he attacked me. Mom once again had left me in charge of my three-year-old brother while she had to run an errand. My brother and I were alone in the house.
Although I loved my brother, I sometimes resented being the built-in babysitter. The details of this incident are foggy since it happened about 65 years ago. I remember sitting at the piano. My brother was near me, bugging me. He would not leave me alone. He had an insatiable appetite for attention.
I could see an extension cord near us. I suddenly imagined it around my brother’s neck. I began to think about how easy it would be to put it around his neck and pull. I played with the thought in my imagination. A little voice seemed to suggest what an opportunity this was to remove this annoyance from my life.
After all, before he came along I had been the only child for ten years.
My father was a man of faith
My mother had attended church most of her life. They had taught me the difference between right and wrong. I had gone to Sunday school for as long as I can remember. I knew what was right. I knew what was in my mind was very wrong. I knew the consequences could be terrible.
Yet that voice didn’t make it seem like a moral decision at all. It presented the temptation more like a scientific experiment. What would happen if you did that? What would happen if you put that cord around his neck and pulled the ends tight? As if the end result wouldn’t matter much except as an intellectual answer to a question.
… that voice didn’t make it seem like a moral decision at all. It presented the temptation more like a scientific experiment.
As I look back on this today, I can relate to Eve when she had that conversation with the serpent. He twisted her thinking. He tried to change her perspective so that she would hear God’s words in a different way than he had intended.
The serpent played on her curiosity and her desire to be more than she was. Never mind what God said. Do you really think eating that fruit will make you die? Why don’t you test that? God knows eating that fruit will show you your true potential and make you as wise as he is. Wouldn’t you like to find out if that’s true?
One wrong decision can impact many lives.
This is one way Satan works
He could see the attitude I had toward having to take care of my brother that day. He knew I loved my brother, but he preyed on me in a weak moment. He tempted me to do something terrible and irreversible. I was in a position where I could have done it without anyone seeing me in time to stop it.
Had I given in to this temptation it would have changed my life and maybe ended my brother’s. Those of us left would face a life of grief. My parents would always wonder what they had done wrong as they raised me.
Our church might have blamed Mom and Dad’s parenting methods. How could the child of good parents do something so evil? I was a very obedient and compliant child most of the time. I wasn’t abused. Our family was close, as was our extended family. I knew they all loved me.
Had I succumbed to this temptation, I would have left my family in shock and filled their hearts with grief. I would have found it very difficult to ever forgive myself or to believe God would forgive me.
For me to have those thoughts that day was completely out of character. They were in conflict with everything my family and church had taught me. I was a Christian.
Yet I listened to that voice.
I actually let my mind consider that terrible suggestion for a few minutes before I rejected it.
Knowing what I do about myself, I believe even if I had acted on the temptation, I could not have kept it up had my brother cried. And he would have. But it still would have changed our relationship forever. Even if I’d said I was just playing, he would have known. He would never have been able to fully trust me again.
What left me vulnerable?
I had no adult supervision when this happened. The adults in my life underestimated the ways in which the devil can work. I had given them no reason not to trust me. I had cared for my brother on many occasions before with no problems. So they assumed there would be no problem leaving me and my brother alone again for a couple of hours. They’d never imagine such an evil thought could enter my mind.
That day I had a bad attitude.
No matter how old we are, we are most vulnerable to sin when our attitude is rebellious. I resented having to serve my parents and brother that day. I wanted to do my own thing. I didn’t want to interact with him that day.
The rational part of my brain that gives one good judgment had not fully developed yet. It does not finish developing until age 25. Until that age, emotions have a major impact on many teen decisions. I’m sure my emotions affected my thoughts that day.
What stopped me?
I cannot pinpoint exactly what stopped me. I believe the sheer grace of God did. I know I had an aunt who prayed for me. I often wonder if the Lord had moved her to pray for me more that day. I praise God that the terrible thought left my mind and the temptation ended.
But I learned how vulnerable I could be and how vulnerable we all can be.
My guardian angel must also have been on the job
Since I had become a Christian and professed faith the year before, the Holy Spirit was also within me. He speaks to our spirits. He renews our minds and helps us remember the Word of God. My years in Sunday school and Vacation Bible School had encouraged me to hide many Bible verses in my heart. I had also memorized many hymns.
But I don’t remember any words from the songs or verses that came to mind during that crisis.
Instead, a small voice seemed to whisper, “Don’t.”
God knew his ultimate plan for my life, and murder was not part of it. As I listened, the thoughts left me. I’m so glad I listened.
I treasure my brother and his family today. I have seen God work in all our lives, even when we do a good job of messing them up. I praise God for his faithfulness.
“For I know the plans I have for you, declares the Lord, plans for welfare and not for evil, to give you a future and a hope.” (Jeremiah 29:11, ESV)