It was a long time ago when I learned an important lesson, “Thou shalt not steal!”

I was in Grade Six, and I was wanting so bad to feel like I belonged somewhere.  That was my big mistake.  Instead of turning to my family or to the friends I did have, I wanted to belong to the “Cool Dudes”.  I found out that the Cool Dudes had formed some kind of club, and so I approached one of the guys in my class and asked if I could join them.  He told me that to belong to their “Cool Club” I would have to steal something from a store to show how brave and tough I was.

The next day, after hastily grabbing a comic book from my corner store, and then meeting with the others, I was provisionally allowed to join the “Cool Club”.  The next step up was to go back and steal a dozen eggs so we could go out and egg some cars that night.  I suddenly had serious misgivings about where this was headed, but because I wanted to be on the “in” group, I agreed to go steal again.

It just so happened that the little corner store I went back to did not carry eggs.  Well, I could not go back to the gang empty-handed, so I stuffed some big bags of candy up my coat.  But before I could get out the door, the manager stopped me and asked me to unzip my coat.  Slowly I opened my coat, and out fell the candy bags.  All I could say was, “Oops!!”

The next thing I knew, I was in the back of the store and the manager had called the police.  I was scared spitless.  And when the policemen came, they looked like 10 foot giants to me, armed to the teeth, and definitely had no smiles on their faces.  I slunk into the back seat of the police cruiser.  I looked around, over, down, anywhere but at the policemen.  Then my day brightened.  I saw some newspaper comic strips so I picked them up to read.

Instantly my mood improved.  But then just as fast, the one policeman snatched the comics away and put his face about 2 inches from my face and snarled, “This aint funny kid!”  I thought I was going to die.  Then he said, “We are going to take you to your parents, and have a long talk with them!”  Now I was hoping I would die before we got there.  First the police!!  Then my parents!!  Yikes!!!

I sat in the cruiser outside our house for a long time.  The policemen came out and gave me a long lecture about the seriousness of stealing and to never do it again.  Very quickly I agreed.  What great wisdom they had shared with me.  But then I had to face my parents.  Now they were good parents, who used time-outs, good lectures, and a few spoon whacks on the bottom when it came to disciplining us.  But I knew I had crossed way over the line on this one.

My father was so angry, he felt it best if he left the house, rather than lay a hand on me.  Wise man.  Then I faced my mother.  She sat me down and gave me an eyeball to eyeball talk about the things that are right, and the things that are wrong.  And then she told me that it was time for her hairbrush to meet my bottom.  It was not anger speaking, it was the voice of loving discipline.

I seem to recall that it was a little hard to sit down for a day or two.  But my bottom did not hurt as much as my sense of guilt over wrong doing, and my sense of letting my parents down.  I was taught a valuable lesson that day.  And I came to appreciate it more as time went on.  The police came to rescue me from going down a path of crime and self-destruction.  And my parents loved me enough to not “beat” me into obedience, but to “educate” me into the right path for living.

I believe the following Scriptures to be very true and still relevant to today:

Proverbs 13:24  “He who spares the rod hates his son,but he who loves him is careful to discipline him.”

Hebrews 12:11  “No discipline seems pleasant at the time, but painful. Later on, however, it produces a harvest of righteousness and peace for those who have been trained by it.”

The best part of this story is that I truly did learn my lesson that day.  From that day until now, I have never (consciously) stolen anything from anyone.  In fact, when they give me too much money back at McDonald’s, I turn around and give them the correct change back.

Thank you God for teaching me honesty, self-respect and obedience.

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