My son, Sam, has now completed six days of kindergarten. A feat, in my book. This little five-year-old of mine may be as tall as many eight-year-olds but looks are deceiving: trust me, he’s a baby. He has baby soft skin, an eggshell little psyche and the simplistic outlook of a toddler.
The other day I asked him if he liked his teacher.
Sam said, “Oh, yes. She’s a princess, just like you, Mama.”
His teacher is a princess — she’s gorgeous and gentle and kind. But do you know what Sam’s definition of a princess is? A person who wears skirts. For years now, if I don a skirt, any kind of skirt, he says, “Mama, you are a princess!” What an easy audience. Love him.
Of course, he’s not always an easy audience. He can be harsh. Don’t think I’ve confessed here on the blog that Sam ends up in our bed every single night. He arrives and firmly slaps the mattress three times, sort of like a rude and presumptuous knock. And then — depending on which side he’s gone to — one of us heaves his sixty-something pounds up and over into the middle. I would guess most nights this happens between 4 a.m. and 6 a.m., but every morning I wake up next to Sam, oftentimes cheek to cheek. And I’m assuming you know what it’s like to wake up next to someone, but if by chance you don’t, I’ll go ahead and tell you that you may not be greeted with baby sweet breath. Well, a couple weeks ago, I was lying in bed, mostly awake, trying to convince myself to climb out and head down to the coffee. Sam was there, of course, and Will was standing at the foot of the bed, dressed for work.
It was at this point that Sam made his declaration: “I smell evil,” he said.
It was one of those lines that you repeat in your mind. Did he just say, ‘I smell evil?’ Yes, he did. He just said, ‘I smell evil.’ Hilarious. Sort of takes dragon breath to a new level.
I’m quite sure I’ll never forget that one. I mean how many five-year-olds can insult and entertain in such an artful and biting way? Plus it sounds a little freaky too, like it’s a sixth sense or something.
But I also think it’s interesting on a spiritual level: Sam believes in evil. I don’t know what his toddler version definition is, the way I do with “princess,” but he knows there is a force at work in this world that is not good.
And I’m proud of Sam for that because there are people out there who deny it. I think it’s intellectually dishonest — how can you live in this world and not believe in evil? But they’re out there. These people aren’t willing to concede evil because it leads them down a path where it’s really hard to deny the existence of God. But honest people, even people that are still babies in many respects, know that evil exists.
Job 28:28 says,”The fear of the Lord—that is wisdom, and to shun evil is understanding.”
Do you have a healthy reverent fear of an all-powerful, omniscient, holy God? Because that’s the beginning of wisdom. Do you acknowledge evil as a force at work in the world? Because shunning it is understanding.
May we cling to the all-loving, all powerful person of Jesus. May we not avert our eyes from following and trusting Him, but may we also not be foolish and pretend that evil isn’t a force in this world. It’s there. Sam can smell it.