In my house, I have a strict policy about keeping food at the table. Of course, my children ensure that most of the food actually ends up under the table, but at this point I can’t be too picky about my prepositions. With three young kids, I should be happy when their food stays within the general vicinity of our time zone.
One day I was surprised to see a cracker at the top of the stairs. It was just sitting there staring back at me, as if to say, “How’s that policy workin’ for ya?” That’s right, the cracker was sassing me, and I was not going to tolerate it for one minute. The attitude was unbecoming, even for a Ritz.
“Where did this cracker come from?”
Silly me, thinking someone would actually answer that question. That’s sort of like expecting an answer to “Who broke this vase?” or “Who wants more broccoli?”
I switched tactics. “Who cut down my cherry tree?” I growled, trying to sound like George Washington’s father. Even though I sounded like Mickey Mouse trying to imitate Barry White, the kids were lassoed with the noose of guilt. I had repeatedly told them about how virtuous little George was when his father expected a truthful answer.
A lone voice squeaked from the back of the house. “I did it, Mommy, and I’m sorry.” My four year old son appeared with a scowl.
“How did this cracker get over to the stairs if you were eating it at the table like you were supposed to?”
“So let me get this straight,” I answered. “You were sitting at the table eating like a good little boy, and all of a sudden your cracker just grew legs and jumped over to the stairs?”
“Did it do a little dance, too?” I broke into a wild hip-hop number, which looked something like a penguin on Quaaludes.
We all had a good laugh, and the kids realized how ridiculous it is to tell whoppers and try to get away with it. They never tried to lie again, and we all lived happily ever after. And if you believe that, I also have some magic beans to sell you.
Humans have been making lame excuses ever since Adam and Eve played the blame game in the Garden. Perhaps the greatest example comes from the record of Aaron and the Golden Calf. (This is a biblical reference; please do not look it up on iTunes.)
Once upon a time a man named Moses was called by God to climb Mt. Sinai. He was eighty years old, but he was able to go up and down the mountain with no problem. The Jack LaLanne of his times. When he was gone for too long, his brother Aaron and the Israelites decided to worship a golden calf. Moses returned to a scene of moral dissipation, and he was not too happy.
What followed was one of the worst excuses ever recorded. I’m not sure how Aaron said it with a straight face.
“So I told them, ‘Whoever has any gold jewelry, take it off.’ Then they gave me the gold, and I threw it into the fire, and OUT CAME THIS CALF!” (Exodus 32:24)
Moses was a dad, so he had probably heard outrageous excuses before. I hope he really milked this one. Oh, so it just magically formed itself into a calf, came to life and walked right out of the fire? Did it do a little dance, too?
In Old Testament times, they really had to pay the price for sin. Moses burned the calf into a powder and made them drink it. (Maybe Jack LaLanne got his protein drink and juicer ideas from this.) Just when they were thinking, Hey, this drink isn’t too bad and it’s half the calories of milk…God struck them with a plague.
I am so thankful to be living in the Age of Grace. We all make outlandish excuses — our own version of a cracker with legs. Even though sometimes we deserve a disgusting drink and a plague, Jesus took the punishment for us by dying on the cross. He deserves better than our lame and childish excuses. But somehow he rolls them up with our sins and removes them as far as the east is from the west.