Are you as good at fooling yourself as I am? It’s not just those in Washington who have a knack for rationalization. We all come by it honestly. Remember the famous lines from our forebears? Adam said, “The woman you gave me gave me the fruit.” Eve added, “The serpent beguiled me.” And we’ve been at it ever since. So we do have an excuse for our excuses!
Now we’ve been perfecting the subtleties of the art for eons. “My schedule won’t allow me....” “Later, when (choose one) I’m out of school, the children are older, my career is more settled, we’re retired....” “This (choose again) new office, house, job, boat has really been keeping me busy....” And we learn so young – “Mom! My glass fell over again!”
I hear lots of excuses. Somehow just seeing a minister makes people feel the need to spill forth with excuses. Usually they’re offering reasons for why they weren’t in worship last Sunday. Most of their reasons sound fine to me. It’s hard for me to separate the truth from the half-truth from the baloney. And actually, it looks to me as if it is equally hard for the person speaking. We human beings are masters at self-deception. We really do believe our own press releases.
So I’d like to suggest an exercise that’s helped me cut through my own baloney. Whenever you find yourself working hard on a “press release,” try saying the same thing to God. Whether an excuse stands or falls depends in large part on to whom we are speaking. For example, we don’t have to trot out our Grade A excuses in order to fool six year olds. They'll believe almost anything we tell them. But God wasn’t born just yesterday. He’s a bit harder to fool.
In my imagination I can see Adam and Eve offering their excuses to God. They began their sentences with a sure sound and no little volume. But the very difficulty of lying to God’s face caused their voices to trail off, and their eyes to fall to the ground, so that by the end of their nonsense they were merely mumbling.
Find a friend who doesn’t mind telling you the truth about yourself. But do more. In prayer look God straight in the face, and offer him your thoughts on a particular decision. If you can do so without gulping, you might well be on the right track.