How A Road Trip with Lylah Taught Me about Sin

August 22, 2012 — 7 Comments

I just got home from a conference in Colorado Springs with Sara and Lylah.

Does it mean I’m a bad parent if I stopped to take a picture of this?

Trying to keep costs down, we drove to the conference and we took Lylah with us. So we got a ton of time in the car with Lylah. While traveling, we noticed Lylah doing a new trick.

She has figured out how to look upset when she wants something. Her face scrunches up and it looks like she is about to cry. But just seconds later, she stops making the face and returns to her normal self.

I’ve found that she mainly does this when she doesn’t want to be in her car seat any more or when she wants a particular type of food. Maybe we are callous parents, but Sara and I just laugh when she does it.

The whole thing is pretty amazing, though. Lylah isn’t even quite nine months old and she’s already discovered the power of deception.

That’s a very sobering thought. It gives me a whole new understanding of what King David says in Psalm 51. “Surely I was sinful at birth,” he claims. Nobody is perfect. The instinct of self-preservation can be found in the core of who we are.

I’ve always struggled with accepting that truth. Surely, we are innocent by default. Surely, most people tend to be good. Surely, it’s only the murderers and tyrants who God judges.

But we all have a dark side to our nature. We all have been influenced by sin. Selfishness is part of our instinct. Lylah screams and groans until she has her way. And now she’s learning to be dishonest to get her way.

Interestingly, it doesn’t make me love her any less. She’s still living up to her middle name, “Joy,” and she still is our adorable little daughter, dishonesty and all.

I can’t help but wonder that maybe God sees us in the same way. Maybe God sees us trying so hard to get what we think we need. Even trying to play tricks on him, thinking that he’ll be more likely to respond. And all the while, God continues to love us, even delight in us. We don’t need to play games or put on charades to get God to hear us. He already is listening and doing a better job than I’ll ever do with Lylah.

Confident of God’s love in spite of our weakness, what unnecessary games or tricks might you be able to release?


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I'm a pastor, writer, speaker, husband, father, and follower of Christ, to name a few titles. You can find my contact information in my About page.
  • shimiko

    She is so smart!!! I love this post and how you ask a question at the end of your posts. It gets me thinking, Austin! Thank you!

    • Thanks, Shimiko! I learned to ask questions from Michael Hyatt’s blog. My hope is that every post would be an encouragement and help us think about our faith in new ways. The questions are intended to do just what you described – get us thinking. I’m glad they are!

  • scrhill

    Sometimes after “doing” church-y and God-y things all day, I think that I don’t need to spend time with God for my own personal growth. God doesn’t see past that charade! My own personal devotional life is completely different than my job (even if I am a pastor), and crucial for my growth as a Christian.

    • Thanks for being so honest! It’s easy to let people assume we have it all together, and by extension, we try to let God think that, too.

  • Evan

    gradually [as an infant] I began to notice where I was, and the will grew in me to make my
    wants known to those who might satisfy them; but I could not, for my wants were
    within me and those others were outside:
    nor had they any faculty enabling them to enter into my mind. So I would fling my arms and legs about and
    utter sounds, making the few gestures in my power – these being as apt to
    express my wishes as I could make them:
    but they were not very apt. And
    when I did not get what I wanted, either because my wishes were not clear or
    the things not good for me, I was in a rage – with my parents as though I had a
    right to their submission, with free human beings as though they had been bound
    to serve me; and I took my revenge in screams.”

    “Who brings to remembrance
    the sins of my infancy? For in thy sight there is none free from sin, not even
    the infant who has lived but a day upon this earth. Who brings this to my
    remembrance? Does not each little one, in whom I now observe what I no longer
    remember of myself? In what ways, in that time, did I sin? Was it that I cried
    for the breast? If I should now so cry — not indeed for the breast, but for
    food suitable to my condition — I should be most justly laughed at and
    rebuked. What I did then deserve rebuke but, since I could not understand those
    who rebuked me, neither custom nor common sense permitted me to be rebuked. As
    we grow we root out and cast away from us such childish habits. Yet I have not
    seen anyone who is wise who cast away the good when trying to purge the bad.
    Nor was it good, even in that time, to strive to get by crying what, if it had
    been given me, would have been hurtful; or to be bitterly indignant at those
    who, because they were older — not slaves, either, but free — and wiser than
    I, would not indulge my capricious desires. Was it a good thing for me to try,
    by struggling as hard as I could, to harm them for not obeying me, even when it
    would have done me harm to have been obeyed? Thus, the infant’s innocence lies
    in the weakness of his body and not in the infant mind. I have myself observed
    a baby to be jealous, though it could not speak; it was livid as it watched
    another infant at the breast.

    Who is ignorant of this?
    Mothers and nurses tell us that they cure these things by I know not what
    remedies. But is this innocence, when the fountain of milk is flowing fresh and
    abundant, that another who needs it should not be allowed to share it, even
    though he requires such nourishment to sustain his life? Yet we look leniently
    on such things, not because they are not faults, or even small faults, but
    because they will vanish as the years pass. For, although we allow for such
    things in an infant, the same things could not be tolerated patiently in an

    Confessions of St. Augustine, Book 1, Chapters 6-7

  • Rebecca Dunlap

    You sure got me thinking……….

  • Deb Randall

    I can’t believe your daughter is deceiving you at such a young age!