Ed, my neighbour next door, was a bachelor last week, as Ruby, his wife, was in Edmonton for some appointments and family matters. The rainy, dull weather forced Ed to work on his machinery out at his farm. Ed takes Ruby’s cellphone to the farm in case he needs to make a call for some reason. Too bad Ruby hadn’t taken it to Edmonton with her, because Ed set it on the bench in the Quonset while he was working on his troublesome tractor and Rex, his dog, took an interest in it.
Ed spotted his dog with the cellphone in its mouth. Ed gave a yell and dropped his wrench and took off after the dog. The dog thought it was a game and raced around inside the building and out the open door. Around the Quonset the dog went abounding – up for a game of “catch me if you can.” Ed ran after the dog in desperation, yelling at the dog in the most unflattering manner. After three times around the shed, Ed had to stop to catch his breath and that is when the dog came and dropped the cellphone in a mud puddle near Ed’s feet. Ed, reacting in sheer panic, rushed to get it out the water and accidently stepped on the phone.
Long and short of the situation, Ed went to town hoping to a get a new cellphone that looked the same as Ruby’s broken cellphone. He could not get one like it and ended up getting two new cellphones. One phone was for Ruby and one for himself. Ed thought he had a good cover-up story. He told Ruby that he got them each a new phone, so he wouldn’t have to keep borrowing hers. Ruby’s response was that he must have lost her phone or broke it, because it never bothered him to borrow it before. She said, “Don’t tell me anything more, Ed. The next thing you’ll be saying is the dog ate the phone or some such nonsense.”
It is part of human nature to want to cover up problems and mishaps. Often, what has been entrusted to us for our use gets lost or broken. Library books have a way of disappearing and even late fees don’t prevent them from being lost. Sometimes we are careless and sometimes it isn’t exactly our fault. Since the beginning of time, trying to explain the situation we are in has not gone well. Adam explained to God why he ate of the forbidden fruit with the words: “The woman you put here with me – she gave me some fruit from the tree, and I ate it.” Eve told God: “The serpent deceived me, and I ate.”
When we try to explain what happened, we may try to conceal how we went wrong. We don’t like to admit that things got out of control, even when we were right there. It goes against our human nature to be content with the plain honest truth that admits “I was wrong.” We hide behind what others did – even the dog. Somehow we think we can be faultless.
We can fool others, but never God, because there is nothing hidden from him. He knows both what we do and why we do it. There are no coverups before God and there is no lack of mercy from God for those who admit the truth about themselves.