I got a traffic ticket the other day. I don't think it was my fault, or maybe it was, but it kind of wasn't, if you know what I mean.
Here I am a kind, honest citizen running along at a measly fifty miles per hour in a thirty-mile zone, or at least that's what the policeman's radar said. It might have been wrong. Maybe I was a victim of my own speedometer; it didn't seem like I was going fifty. Who knows if it was working correctly?
I'm not sure the city clearly marked the speed limit in that area, so how was I to know? (Actually, I looked the next time I passed through there, and the speed limit was marked, but that is beside the point.) Why can't the police concentrate on catching real bandits? I mean, with all the criminality in France, they should be passing their time dealing with real crime and not picking on an innocent person like me!
When I went into the local shop where you can pay your ticket, the man said, "You're not the only one. They're really cracking down. He might have gotten you because you're a foreigner." Yeah, the policeman probably picked on me because I wasn't French. That's it! Only I was driving a French van with French license plates and unless I look funnier than I think I do, he wouldn't have known I wasn't French until I opened my mouth and he heard my American accent. And he was polite.
After serious reflection, I finally discovered what the problem was: I was going fifty miles per hour in a thirty-mile zone!
Are you ready for this? I was wrong!
That was tough to admit, but when I finally quit casting around for excuses and said it loud and clear, I felt better.
I was wrong. Not the police. Not the city. Not the speedometer. Not my wife. Not the president of the republic. I, David, was wrong. The thought actually comforted me a bit. I quit feeling like a victim and took responsibility for my act. Blaming others had just prolonged the agony. Before, not only did I have to pay a fine, but I was also a poor, frustrated, persecuted victim.
Your stomach gets all tied up in knots when you're the victim. When I fessed up to my wrongdoing the consequences still hurt, but it felt good. Owning up to your faults works.
Saul sinned against God but blamed it on the people. David sinned against God, but when the prophet confronted him, he cried, "I have sinned." Period. Nothing else. Saul lost the kingdom. The Lord corrected David but he never lost his place with God.
So many fail to come to God because they don't want to admit their sins. They make excuses. "Lord, my faults are nothing compared to Adolph Hitler's." But simply put, a man must confess that his sins have separated him from God. He must acknowledge that he can come to God the Father only by virtue of what Jesus did on the cross for all of us.
The road toward God always begins with this confession, "Lord, I was wrong. I have sinned."
The road to restoration in marriage begins with "Honey, I was wrong. Would you forgive me?" Sometimes when we've made mistakes in dealing with our children we need to tell them, "I was wrong. Please forgive me." And the same is true with our boss and with our neighbor.
When we're wrong, let's just say it. With the Lord, our sincere confession of sin always leads to grace and forgiveness. As long as the fault lies with our parents, a demon or someone else we stay miserable. Confession begins healing.
I had hoped for grace that night with my policemen friends. (I was sufficiently humble, though not yet repentant.) But I discovered another truth: confession of wrong works better with the Lord than with a French gendarme.