Thursday, January 16, 2014

Caught Red-Handed

Do you know what the origin of that phrase is? It's to literally be caught with blood on your hands.  Right after you committed the crime, right after you've wronged someone.

This week I've seen two examples of this.  Each awful in it's own way.  Each making me want to turn my head and look elsewhere. 

Problem is, they are happening to people I know.

How do you deal with it when you are caught doing something you shouldn't have done?

I'd like to say I'd confess immediately and throw myself of the mercy of the person I've wronged  Or, on the mercy of the court, depending on the circumstances.

But, would that really be true?

That is not the choice my friends made.

In a story that has made the news all over our state this year,  an 18-year-old girl, driving with her boyfriend and her brother, ran over and killed two little girls in front of their home.   It was the most bizarre of accidents.  The perfect storm of circumstances.  It was dark, the girls were laying in piles of leaves in front of their house, their father, watching them, had run in the house for just a moment.  The 18-year-old came around the corner and purposely drove over the huge leaf pile.  She was being a kid. She had no clue anyone was under there.  One little girl died instantly, the second a short time later.

But, that, as horrific as it was, was not the driver's real problem.

Her real problem was that, when she later learned what she had done, she allowed her brother and her boyfriend to talk her into NOT returning to the scene of the crime,  NOT confessing to anyone and actually running the vehicle through through the car wash to remove evidence.

A few years ago, I worked with that girl.  And her boyfriend.  And her brother.  I spent time with them every day.  For years.

How could she do that?  I would never do that!

Would I?

Maybe not now.  But, back when I was a teenager? Panicked out of my mind about any possible consequences to my actions. No family or school support system to fall back on. No real knowledge of God, or right or wrong.  Just desperate to make it all go away.  

What would I have done back then?

I'm not so sure.

I have another friend, who has had some run-ins with the law.  He's spent the past year of his life trying to get things sorted out.  Trying to go a different way and do things right.

A little while back, he acquired something from a questionable acquaintance.  It was merchandise that, shall we say,  "fell off the back of a truck."   He didn't really know its origin and he used it as his own.  One day, it came to light where this merchandise was from.  He now owned something that legally belonged to someone else.

But, that was not his real problem.

His real problem was that, when he had the opportunity to come clean and return it to it's rightful owner:  he ran.  He tried to hide the object, and wipe away the evidence.   Make it all go away.  Just like the young girl ran the car through the car wash.

But, of course, in that weird way that life has, it didn't go away. 

He was caught with it while hanging out with yet another questionable person.  The circumstances were compounded by his new "friend."  Now he's facing jail time.

Why?  Why is it so hard for us to do the right thing and confess to what we've done?

One of these people knows God in a personal way.  The other doesn't.  But, apparently it didn't make much difference in their choices.

I could look down my nose at them.  Rail on them for not immediately coming clean.  But haven't I been tempted to do the same?

Haven't I done the same? 

Well, in less important circumstances, of course. 

I mean, I didn't run over anyone or have stolen goods or anything.  It wasn't that important when I did it.  It was more like a little "misunderstanding" between people.  Something I really didn't need to bother to confess.  Right?


In Psalm 38 (NLT)  David paints a picture of himself as a man who has done wrong.  We don't know the exact circumstances, but, he tells us he is tormented not just by the enemies that chased him, but by his personal sin against God, sin that he knows exists deep inside.

Because of your anger, my whole body is sick;
    my health is broken because of my sins.
My guilt overwhelms me—
    it is a burden too heavy to bear.
My wounds fester and stink
    because of my foolish sins.
I am bent over and racked with pain.
    All day long I walk around filled with grief.
A raging fever burns within me,
    and my health is broken.
I am exhausted and completely crushed.
    My groans come from an anguished heart.

David, being David, goes straight to the heart of the matter.  He can't control who chases him, he can't control what they are saying about him, but he CAN take responsibility for what he has done.  And he throws himself on the mercy of the only one he knows can make things right.

17 I am on the verge of collapse,
    facing constant pain.
18 But I confess my sins;
    I am deeply sorry for what I have done.

19 I have many aggressive enemies;
    they hate me without reason.
20 They repay me evil for good
    and oppose me for pursuing good.
21 Do not abandon me, O Lord.
    Do not stand at a distance, my God.
22 Come quickly to help me,
    O Lord my savior.

Whether we've done a big thing or a small thing,  our heart always tells us when we are wrong, when we have hurt someone else and hurt God.  We feel it in our mind and our body, just like David did.  God isn't going to hunt us down and force us to confess to something--that will always be our choice.

I just wish that more often, we'd see that it's our only choice.  

The only thing that is going to bring us some peace.

1 comment:

AroundTheWorld said...

I have to say, you're a very good writer. A compelling read :)