On March 11, 2015, numerous articles appeared about a strange incident that took place in Wilkes-Barre, Pennsylvania. Forty-five-year-old Maurice Franklin staggered into the flow of traffic, endangering his own life and creating a hazard to motorists who swerved to avoid hitting him.
The commotion drew the attention of police. By the time police caught up with him, Franklin was walking erratically on the sidewalk. When questioned if he had been drinking or not, Franklin denied he was intoxicated. He claimed he was zigzagging to dodge the dog feces which dotted the sidewalk. But it became apparent to the police that Franklin was highly intoxicated. He could barely stand without swaying and his breath reeked of alcohol.
But when asked to accompany them to the police station, Franklin resisted. He dove to the ground and rolled in the dog feces to avoid arrest. After thoroughly smearing himself with poop, the clever Franklin commented to police, “You can’t arrest me now, can you?”
Unfortunately for Franklin, his self-humiliation didn’t work. The police clapped the cuffs on him and arrested him for public drunkenness.
You know, I suspect that the image of Maurice Franklin rolling around in dog poop will stay with me for a long time. It will resurface again and again whenever I see or hear of a person making lame excuses for bad behavior – to avoid blame and the consequences of his deeds. It’s bad enough doing wrong and then getting caught. Must we lower ourselves even deeper by rolling in the dirt and blaming others for what we’ve done?
Listen, I’m no saint. I’ve done it myself – not literally rolling in the stuff, but blaming others and making excuses for my own sins. I don’t want to face up to the consequences of the wrong I’ve done. None of us does. But there’s no need to deceive ourselves or deny our guilt. For the Scripture tells us, “The Lord is compassionate and gracious, slow to anger, and abounding in love. … He does not treat us as our sins deserve or repay us according to our iniquities. For as high as the heavens are above the earth, so great is his love for those who fear him; as far as the east is from the west, so far has he removed our transgressions from us” (Psalm 103:8-9, 11-12).
So get up off the ground. Take responsibility for your actions. Then throw yourself upon the unfailing mercy and love of God. Perhaps you will not avoid the justice of man. But you will have the peace of mind knowing that you’ve forever escaped the judgment of God. “He who hears My word and believes in Him who sent Me does not come into judgment, but has passed from death into life” (John 5:24).
Dear Father in heaven, I’m fooling no one but myself when I try to wiggle out of the grasp of guilt. So, here and now I admit my guilt and confess to you the wrong that I’ve done. Please forgive me, cleanse me, and change my heart. From my own failure let me learn compassion and tolerance toward others. And help me, henceforth, to do justly, to love mercy, and to walk humbly with You, my God. Amen.