If we claim we have no sin, we are only fooling ourselves and not living in the truth. But if we confess our sins to him, he is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all wickedness. (1 John 1:8-9)
Relate: I was coming home quite late from SUNY Binghamton one evening. One of the joys of college ministry was how a meeting that was supposed to end at nine can morph into a time of food and fellowship that can last until the wee hours of the morning. I was young enough still to believe this was a joy, not a burden. Anyways, as I said, I was heading home from that very fun evening when I stopped at a red light about three blocks from my final destination. This wasn’t a major city like New York and the only 24 hour diners like Deny’s were in other parts of town so the only other vehicle on the road was the truck right in front of me also stopped at the light.
The light turned green. This red pickup did not go. I honked my horn. Nothing. I honked again. Still nothing. I was just about to drive into the other lane and around him when the light switched to yellow. I waited through the red and once again hit my horn as soon as it hit green. I wanted to really lay on it, but we were just beyond the bars and downtown headed into a residential area and I didn’t want to start waking people. Finally, I did edge past and drive around him on my way home.
As I passed, I looked over and had to start laughing. This guy was passed out with his face right on the wheel. I mean, there was drool coming down out of his open mouth, one arm was on the dash… this guy was gone to the world. I don’t know how far his home was, but I can guarantee this guy had just exited from one of the dozens of dive bars within a half mile south of this intersection. I wonder if a bartender offered to get him a cab. I wonder if any friends offered him a ride home as these bars were closing. I wonder if the next vehicle to notice him passed out at the intersection will be a cop.
I can’t speak to his particular exit that night but I have seen plenty of similar. I used to be a waiter at an establishment that served alcohol. We were a family restaurant, but I have seen a few times where we would try to cut someone off who insisted they were “fine”. Many of my fellow servers would go next door after work to Fridays to spend their own tips on booze. They would come to work Saturday afternoon hung over from Friday night talking about how they don’t remember anything after “x” happened. Others would laugh and joke about what so and so did after their third, or fourth bar hop of the evening. How many of them often drove from place to place in a state of sobriety coming ever closer to the man in that red pickup?
React: How often are we spiritually inebriated, dulled to the reality of our own sin, insisting that we are fine to drive our own lives? How many of us are we trapped in a cycle of sin that is pulling us ever closer to judgment while insisting that we can break free any time we want? How often do we not even realize this is true? How many are reading this thinking it is a good message for someone else not realizing that our pride, or temper, lust, gluttony, or… whatever is just as spiritually deadly as the more obvious addictions we like to highlight in others? Am I saying I am doing just fine while I insist on being the one in the driver’s seat of my car? Perhaps it is time I designate Jesus to be the driver of my life.
Please forgive me for the many times I have said “I am fine” when You and I both knew this wasn’t true. Forgive me for insisting on driving my own life even though this was more eternally deadly than that guy in the red pickup. Forgive me for thinking I have a handle on the very sins and addictions that are destroying my life and keeping me from You. Give me the courage to confess my sin that I might be forgiven.