I can take no credit for this story. It's premise was preached a long time ago by Dr. Bob Jones, Sr., and then it was written in the form of an illustrated children's story by Carolyn Hobbs (otherwise known as 'Aunt Carolyn') from the Children's Bible Club. I have taught it too many times to number. It is one of my favorites. My version goes something like this:
"Wowsers, Johnny! What in the world happened to your barn door?"
Johnny ignored his friend's question and threw the ball again. The barn made a great backstop for a two-man ball game, but he was now wishing they had played somewhere else.
"Hold it, Johnny! This beats anything I've seen. What in the world happened to this barn door?", Rick asked.
Johnny thought to himself that people should mind their own business. But he answered, "Aww, forget it and play ball!"
That door was a sore spot with Johnny. It had happened when he was nine, when it seemed that he was forever getting into trouble.
If he were coming home from school in the rain, somehow he would be covered in mud by the time he got home, and would track it all aver the house before his mom caught him. If he were to be asked to feed the chickens, he would forget to close the gate and soon the chickens would be all over the yard. He did his homework most nights, but it often did not make it to school the next day. He got in one little fight on the playground and wound up in the principal's office. But then, the next month, somehow it would happen again.
Johnny often wanted his own way, and when he would get caught doing wrong, he almost always blamed someone else. Sometimes he would go on and on, telling a story about the circumstances that caused him to behave the way that he did, explaining that it just couldn't be helped. His mom and dad disciplined him and talked with him often about his troubles, and he would truly resolve to do better, but somehow trouble quickly found him again. But then, one day his father had an idea. He called Johnny in to talk.
He handed Johnny a huge box of big nails and a hammer and said, "All right, Son, from now on, every time you do something disobedient or bad, I want you to go out to the barn and pound a nail into the door. Maybe that will help you to realize how often this wrong-doing of yours is happening and how much trouble you are causing."
And so for months, Johnny would drive a nail into the barn door every time he got into trouble. Every lie, every bad word, and every time he was a smart-aleck meant another nail. Every time he disobeyed his father or ignored his mom calling for him was cause for the pounding in of a nail.
One evening, Johnny came to his dad with his eyes focused on the floor and his hands in his pockets. He stood silently beside Dad's chair. His father looked up to see tears in his son's eyes. "What is it, Son?", he asked. Johnny stammered and couldn't stop big tears from running down his face. Dad put down his paper, put his arm around his son, and pulled him in close. "Okay, Buddy. Let's talk. What's the trouble?"
"Well, I...I went out the barn to drive another nail into the door, but, well..." Johnny broke into full sobs. "Oh, Dad! I'm so sorry for all of the wrong things that I do! I've really have been trying, but I always seem to do bad things anyway. I don't know why I do them. And now the barn door is filled up and I can't find room for even one more nail! Oh Dad, I'm so sorry!"
Dad spoke quietly but firmly. "This is the day that I've been waiting for, Son. For the first time you are seeing yourself as God sees you---sinful and disobedient against Him. And we've talked for years about how much Jesus loves us and how He died for sinners, just like you and me. There is a terrible punishment for sin, and the price for it must be paid. And I think you've found out that there is nothing you can do about it on your own. Jesus was willing to take that punishment that God would have to give you for your sin. He died in your place on the cross of Calvary. I am so happy that you finally understand and feel sorry for your sinfulness. Now you can ask God to forgive you and accept Christ's payment. Receive the Lord Jesus as Saviour by putting your faith and trust in Him today!"
And right there beside Dad's chair, Johnny prayed and asked the Lord Jesus to forgive his sin and be his Saviour.
What a happy day! After that, Johnny did so much better. Oh, he was still 'all boy' and got in messes, but he had the Holy Spirit helping him. And now when he did wrong, he was honest and was sorry, and tried to make things right.
One day his father had another idea. "Son", he said, "I am really proud of you. You've been a different boy since you've trusted Jesus. I can see that you are trying hard to please Him and do right. How about now when you do something that you know is pleasing to the Lord, you pull a nail out of that barn door?"
Johnny loved his new assignment, and went about removing nails like crazy. He cleaned his room without being told, and helped old Mrs. Graves carry her groceries and take out her trash without ever taking the dollar she offered. One by one, the nails came out. He told his friend about Jesus, and George came to church with him and trusted Him, too. His dad told him to take two nails out for that!
Time passed and the nails disappeared. Then, one day Johnny again stood next to his dad's chair with his eyes downcast and his hands in his pockets. "Dad," he spoke quietly, "I pulled the last nail out of the barn door today."
Dad's newspaper fell quickly to his lap and his face burst into a huge smile. "Well, that's great, Son! I am so proud of you! But what's with the sad face? I thought you'd be happy about getting all those nails out."
"I am, Dad, but you ought to see the barn door! Every place where I pulled a nail out left a big ugly hole. It looks awful!"
Once again Dad lovingly pulled his son in close to himself. "Well, Johnny, I've noticed the barn door, too. Those holes are the scars that the nails left behind in the wood. If nails leave such scars in a barn door, just imagine what all of those sins did to your life. Galatians 6:7 says, 'Whatsoever a man soweth, that shall he also reap.' We know that the Lord Jesus forgave you of every one of your sins when your trusted Him as Saviour, but sin always leaves scars that go with you through the rest of your life."
"I'm thankful that you are saved and that Jesus is now guiding your life. As you live for Him and do His will, He will help you to avoid more scars. Stay close to Him and keep your life pure. Try to please Him in everything you do. Be careful not to live a life filled with scars. That will make it easier for you to allow the Lord to use you in serving Him and winning souls.
Johnny never forgot how awful sin was and what terrible scars it could leave. He asked the Lord to keep him in God's way according to God's Word and he tried to please Him every day. And Psalm 119:11 became his life's verse. "Thy word have I hid in mine heart, that I might not sin against thee."
What about you? Are you still wanting your own way, making excuses for your sin, and rebelling against God? Are you still driving nails into the barn door? Won't you do as Johnny did? Realize that your sin is against God. You are a sinner and need God's forgiveness. Accept the Lord Jesus as your Saviour. His blood will cleanse and forgive every sin.
Go to the 'home' page of this site and scroll down to the blog post at the bottom. It's entitled 'Redeemed'. It will tell you how you can give your heart to Jesus and be forgiven. And what a wonderful day this will be for you!
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