“Colby did it!”

Most of my readers know that Rachel and I have 6 children.  Whenever someone asks me why we have 6 children, and that happens a lot, I usually tell people that, “Six children is a never ending supply of good sermon illustrations.”  And, that is exactly where today’s post begins.

Last week, while I was at work, I received a frantic phone call from Rachel.  It seems that Colby (5) and Ella (4) were down in the basement “playing” when Rachel called them upstairs for lunch.  While Rachel was passing out stacks of PB& J sandwiches she noticed that Ella’s shorts were covered in hair. She hadn’t noticed at first, but when Rachel looked up she discovered that Ella, who had the most beautiful long hair, had multiple giant chunks of hair sheared off of her head. (Including right in the front of her head, below her barrette, only a few inches from her scalp.)

At first, when Rachel began to question what happened to Ella’s hair, there was a guilty silence. The silence continued for a little while when Ella finally spoke up.

Rachel: “I said, what happened to your hair?”

Ella: “Colby did it!”

When I got home I barraged Colby with a line of questioning that would have made Al Capone collapse under the pressure.  My questioning, as you will see, followed around a common theme. Colby’s answers also followed a common theme, see if this one rings a bell.

Dad: “Colby why did you cut your sisters hair?”

Colby:  (meekly) … I don’t know.

Dad: “Colby, are you allowed to play with scissors?

Colby: “No”

Dad: “Are you allowed to cut your sister’s hair?”

Colby: “No”

Dad: “Ok, let me ask you again, Why did you cut your sisters hair?

Colby: (helplessly) ….I don’t know.

In Romans, Chapter 7, the Apostle Paul explains Colby’s struggle and the battle that goes on inside many of us. Paul explains it like this:
15 I do not understand what I do. For what I want to do I do not do, but what I hate I do. 16…For I have the desire to do what is good, but I cannot carry it out. 19For what I do is not the good I want to do; no, the evil I do not want to do—this I keep on doing. 20Now if I do what I do not want to do, it is no longer I who do it, but it is sin living in me that does it.

A lot like Colby, I have repeatedly done and said things I didn’t want to.  Paul, in this chapter of Romans, is not only explaining the purpose of the law of God but identifying the battle that is waged inside us.  The battle between wanting to follow God’s commands and the sinful nature of man is one that we all should identify with.   Like me, maybe you have been discouraged, at times, because you have promised to yourself, and God, that you weren’t going to get sucked into the trap of ________ (…anger, lust, lying, stealing, laziness, substance, jealousy, greed) ever again!  Then, a week (day, hour, minute, second) goes by and you find yourself  in the exact activity or emotion you promised, schemed, planned to avoid at all costs.

Paul’s conclusion is where I want to end today.
17-20 But I need something more! For if I know the law but still can’t keep it, and if the power of sin within me keeps sabotaging my best intentions, I obviously need help! I realize that I don’t have what it takes. I can will it, but I can’t do it. I decide to do good, but I don’t really do it; I decide not to do bad, but then I do it anyway. My decisions, such as they are, don’t result in actions. Something has gone wrong deep within me and gets the better of me every time. 21-23 It happens so regularly that it’s predictable. The moment I decide to do good, sin is there to trip me up. I truly delight in God’s commands, but it’s pretty obvious that not all of me joins in that delight. Parts of me covertly rebel, and just when I least expect it, they take charge.24I’ve tried everything and nothing helps. I’m at the end of my rope. Is there no one who can do anything for me? Isn’t that the real question? 25 The answer, thank God, is that Jesus Christ can and does. He acted to set things right in this life of contradictions where I want to serve God with all my heart and mind, but am pulled by the influence of sin to do something totally different.’

Here is what Paul is saying, “When you can’t–God can!”  My encouragement for us this morning is to remember that God can, and wants too, help you through the traps in your life.


The answer, to defeat the traps that seem to follow us around, is not just “more will power” or a “better plan” or to “make more promises”.  The answer is to acknowledge that your father has already beaten the sin you are fighting against, through His Son on a cross, and wants deeply to “parent” us through those struggles.  The question is, “Will you and I let him?”

Even with really short hair Ella is a cute as can be, and ultimately it was my fault that Colby cut Ella’s hair! Rachel warned me, on several occasions, to remove the hair-clipper set that was in the basement bathroom (The scissors were in the hair-clipper case) because something like this was going to happen.  I emphatically insisted that our kids knew better than that. Ha!

Rachel, of course, asked me why I didn’t listen to her and move the clippers from the basement.

My answer: (embarrassingly) “…I don’t know.”

Do you have an “I don’t know” story? Do you relate to what Paul is saying about the battle that goes on inside us? Please leave a comment and if you want to get these posts delivered right to your reader or in-box become a subscriber today.

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  • Barry Hill

    Good stuff. When my hairs fall out into the shower and circle the drain – I ask them why today? Why not yesterday? Science question: at what speed MPH does human hair grow?
    Old Guy

  • http://www.flickr.com/photos/28199562@N02/ tony babcock

    WOW … once again another though provoking blog. Paul describes it so eloquently and yet so to the point. I have the same struggle on a consistent basis as well. My Pastor described it real good as the sin nature, stemming back from when Adam and Eve fell. The example he gave was that he never taught his children to lie. But they sure figured out how to do it on their own without ever being taught how. I am the same, as I grew up I got better and better lying. The point I am trying to make is I wrestled with honesty back when I was growing up, and still do now. I admit that I am much better at being honest now then I ever was growing up. But it is one of those things where I say to myself why did I do it? I should have just told the truth upfront, then I would not have to be making an amend for it now. Being a father I am trying to instill the quality of rigorous honesty in my own kids. Darn is it hard. This is totally where I need gods help not only for my kids but for me as well. As for an exact “I don’t know” moment I am sure my wife can provide an endless buffet of Tony stories.

  • Kimberly Jefferson

    Ok this is a very thought provoking question, as my 15 yr old son’s answers to why is always followed by an “I don’t know.” Sometimes he just gives the answer because he just doesn’t feel like telling me why. There have been a few times the “I don’t know” answer is genuine, this is usually with tears in his eyes. My son has a very strong struggle with something alot of teens do, to protect his privacy I won’t go into great detail. But it recently came up yet again. I asked him to answer as honest as possible, ” Why do you think you keep going back to this particular behavior?” He said, “Mom, I don’t know but I want to change it, the problem is I don’t know how and I need help.” I explained to him this is a good step because he might not understand why he does things but he acknowledges he knows it isn’t right. I did some research thanks to the vast internet, and came up with some explanations. Also asked him to think seriously about his behavior and what makes him do it. He thought about this for a few days and came to me with an answer. He told alot of it has to do with stress and boredom, he will be fine for a while, then revert back. I explained to him, this is being human, we all revert to bad habits, and that some habits may not seem bad but they really are, and we have to learn to curb them. He said to me, “Is that like your smoking?” I told him he was right although it doesn’t make me a bad person, it does make show I have a weakness. He told me at the end of the conversation, “Mom, if you can help me, I believe I can help you.” I said, “Ok, how?” I was being curious not doubtful. He said, “I don’t know, Mom but I love you and want to help you.” I had to laugh because he still didn’t know but he knew he could find the answers. Hopefully this is a step forward for him and sure it is because I told him not only had me on his side but he has God. He said, “I know Mom, I talk to the Big Guy and sometimes I understand his answers.” I smiled and thought my baby is growing up.

  • Jennifer Clarke

    Hair grows at about 1/8 inch per month, so with about 730.5 hours in a month and 0.000016 miles per inch (or 6399369 inches per mile) that makes it about 0.0000000027 mph (2.7E-9 mph).

    (answered by a real Penncrest science teacher)

  • The Ordained Barista

    Thanks Jennifer,
    For those of us who have entered into our 40′s I wonder if the hair speed, on our heads, have slowed down and have picked up in less welcome spaces like ears and noses? Ha. Do you have any statistics on that? Thanks for your very scientific comment— Penncrest has a special place in my heart!

  • http://www.tnealtarver.wordpress.com TNeal

    Hilarious, Barry. And, yes, every parent (and, oh, so many of our wives) has heard, “I don’t know” as an answer. When my son, who is now 25, gave “I don’t know” as an answer I translated it into, “Dad, I don’t want to talk about it right now” or “Dad, I would say no but that answer wouldn’t make you happy right now.” Glad to jump from Hyatt to Barista today. Now I need to go back and read what you had to say over at Michael’s place.