Do you have that friend that can be relied upon to have just the right excuse all the time?
Maybe it’s your cousin or in-law or someone else in your family. Always with the best intentions, but it never seems to be the right time for whatever it is that you want to do with them or even for them.
We all know those people. We all are those people. Unless we are consistently cautious, careful not to let the excuses slip through a crevice before transparency, honesty and maturity can stride in.
Last week I was participating on a conference call for work, and had to pick up my son from a test at school. When I let my colleague know the noise pollution was me waiting outside at the school I said, “I have to pick up my son sick from school.” As the words flew out of my mouth without thinking, I immediately felt guilty. I wasn’t making an excuse for the noise, I just blurted out a bold faced lie.
For no reason.
My son was perfectly healthy, well and feeling fine in that classroom. He was just taking a test. Whether picking him up from school from a test, or picking him up sick made no difference to my colleague. Was completely irrelevant. I was still working and managing my responsibilities. Still participating. Yet, somehow subconsciously in the split second it took me to get embarrassed by the elementary school noise bleeding into the call and register an excuse I blurted out the first thing that came to mind. It wasn’t the truth.
My colleague asked me about my son which gave me the opportunity to correct myself and admit I didn’t know why I said that. My son was actually taking a test at school. So awkward and embarrassing, and I deserved it. I abhor lying. I work very hard to eliminate dishonesty in me and my life. Yet, as careful as I am the excuse careened out of my mouth in a split second through the door embarrassment left open.
Typically we find ourselves making excuses when we feel obligated to do something we don’t want to do; when we want to do something but legitimately can’t and don’t want to disappoint someone; or when we know we should do something and feel guilty because we won’t. Those times are when excuses fly away to convince ourselves more than anyone else. We use the clouds created with our dialogue to trick ourselves into feeling better. Yet, the excuse rings hollow even to ourselves because it is what it is.
A lie dressed up in formalwear and bow tie.
I looked up excuses in the Bible. Jesus didn’t make any. Lots of others did. Not Him. That tells us something. If we let it.
In the Garden of Gethsemane that lonely night sweating drops of blood in urgent, committed prayer the words were “Father, remove this cup from me. But, please, not what I want what You want.” (Luke 22:41-44) When the words could have been, “Father, I’m scared. I can’t. I changed my mind. Don’t make me do this.”
Completely understandable. He had his twelve guys. He loved them. His mom, His family, His friends. The lost. Jesus knew what was coming.
Or he could have something even more noble something like this, “Father, think about it, I know our plan, but I’ve only been here 33 years. It’s not long enough. Look at all I’ve accomplished in just 3 years of ministry. Imagine what more I can do with these souls who we love if I just have a little bit more time. Let’s postpone this whole dying thing a little while. How about a decade? What’s 10 more years when compared against an eternity? Ok, too long…. Give me just one more year here then. Please, Father! I can do so much more. Let me continue this good work.
For them. You love them, Father, as I do. Please.
Let me die later. Not today, Father. Not today.”
There was none of that.
There was this “Father, not what I want, what You want.”
If there was ever an opportune time for excuse making, facing crucifixion would be that time. Yet, our Savior didn’t make an excuse.
When I think about that, I ask myself “why do I?”