I had planned to rent a truck then drive our furniture and 116 large boxes from Arkansas to Washington state. But after six intense months preparing and selling our house followed by three stressful months living from suitcases, Kit and I were wasted both physically and emotionally. So we hired a company to move our things.
The company required our presence at loading. We drove from western Washington to Little Rock to meet them. Temperatures that afternoon hit 100 actual or 109 degrees with heat index. One of the movers had already been overcome by heat exhaustion. Then one of the movers noticed a little mold on a wooden chair. The foreman told us they had to leave all our furniture behind. In the hot sun, Kit and I cleaned every inch of wood with bleach solution to avoid a disaster. Then a few shotgun shells somehow fell out of a box. The movers asked us if any other ammunition was in the 116 boxes. If so, they could not move us. Immediately, I remembered packing a few other shells somewhere, but had no idea where. And loading of the truck was nearly finished.
That’s when I deliberately lied. “No. I’m sure there aren’t.” You know the circumstances. And I knew the packed cartridges to be harmless. Even in a fire they would simply crack like firecrackers. Without a gun barrel to accelerate the bullet, they wouldn’t fly all over like depicted in old comedies. Still, a lie is a lie, especially a self-serving lie. That lie haunts me still.
Only one other time since a teenager had I blatantly lied. An auto accident. Me first to help a man thrown from his car with a horrible head injury. “Am I going to be okay?” he pleaded. “You’ll be fine. Just need a few stitches,” I calmly assured him while holding his hands to prevent him from discovering his injury. In truth, I expected him to die right there. Fortunately, the victom did fully recover. And later a doctor told me I had done the right thing to prevent shock. But I meant to lie.
After pondering the issue of lying for seven weeks now, I’ve come to believe that lying to help someone in a life-and-death situation isn’t sin. However, lying to extract yourself from a difficult situation is sin. I’m confessing my sin to God and to you. (James 5:16)
More significant, I’ve had a refresher on how desperate circumstances can erode moral resolve . . . in any of us. I’m hoping that will make me more merciful regarding the sins of others.
I’m not trying to excuse the sin of lying. My pondering reminded me of Revelations 21:8 promising the “fiery lake” to liars. I also remembered the difference between committing a sin versus practicing sin. The difference between telling a lie and being a practicing liar. Those practicing lying or enabling others who practice lying should examine their lives according to 1 John.