The Great Excuse
“Yes, but I haven’t…”
“Sorry, but I didn’t…”
“Well, not for a long time…”
Thus run the opening phrases for the Great Excuse. This is not like the small, sometimes humorous, excuses kids give their parents for uncleaned rooms, missed curfews, lost homework.
The Great Excuse is about whole chunks of life – years, maybe. It is grounded in the belief that if someone hasn’t done something in a long time, that is an adequate excuse for not beginning to do it now. It may sound like: “But we’ve never done it that way” or “You can’t teach an old dog new tricks.”
Just ask a health care professional or a confessor. They hear this all the time as they attempt to convince a suffering person to start flossing or stop smoking or begin praying again. “I haven’t done that in a long time. No, it’s too late for me. My wife is one who does the praying or flossing…”
This, by the way, is a great deceit from the devious mind of the Evil One, a.k.a. the Father of Lies. He’s always whispering to us what we can’t do, how we can’t change, how we’re stuck where we are. He reminds us how we’ve tried in the past and failed.
The Creator, however, has a different vision. He has given us (a) minds to see ourselves as we are and to choose change, (b) the Holy Spirit to inspire and support change, and (c) the incredible promise of Philippians 4:13: I can do all things in him who strengthens me.
Sin is slavery to the past; it is being defeated by the past. St. Paul reminds us that hope is about what we don’t see, what we don’t experience… we could say hope is only about what is new (Romans 8:24). Hebrews 11:1 takes it further: Now faith is the assurance of things hoped for, the conviction of things not seen. And the really good news: Hope will not leave us disappointed (Romans 5:5).
Is there a place in your life where you’ve given up because of the past? Pray: ask God’s guidance. Visit with a dentist or a deacon or a doctor and see if perhaps it’s not too late.
God does not arrive on the highway of excuses, but through the door of trust. Open your heart, invite him in and ask for his help.