Story of the Day for Monday October 1, 2012
Take the Whole Mess to Jesus
Wash me thoroughly from all my iniquity and cleanse me from my sin. For I know my transgressions, and my sin is always staring me in the face.
In 1987, Ron Harper Mills told a story to the American Academy of Forensic Sciences. The story wasn’t true (although the internet gossip machine claimed it was). Mills said he made it up to entertain the audience and “to illustrate how, if you alter a few small facts, you greatly alter the legal consequences.”
The story goes like this: Ronald Opus left a suicide note and then jumped from a ten-story building. As he fell, a shotgun blast tore through a window and killed him. But, Mr. Opus’s suicide attempt would have failed because construction workers had set up a safety net and he would have fallen harmlessly into it.
When a person attempts suicide and succeeds, even if the mechanism of death is not the one intended, it is still considered a suicide. Yet, because the suicide would have failed, and he was killed by the shotgun blast, homicide now had to be considered.
The shotgun blast came from the apartment of an elderly couple. They had been arguing and the husband had threatened her with the gun. The man pulled the trigger, missed his wife, and the blast pierced the window. When you intend to kill subject A, and instead kill subject B, you’re guilty of the murder of subject B.
When confronted with the murder charge, both the husband and wife insisted that the shotgun was unloaded. The old man said he often threatened his wife with the unloaded gun, but had no intention of killing her.
The killing of Mr. Opus, therefore, would appear to be an accident.
As the investigation proceeded, a witness claimed he saw the elderly couple’s son secretly load the shotgun. He was angry because his mother had cut off his financial support, and the son, knowing his father’s habit of threatening his wife with the shotgun, loaded the gun in the hope that his father would shoot and kill his mother.
The case now becomes one of murder on the part of the son. But here is the exquisite twist: Mr. Ronald Opus, who jumped from the building in a suicide attempt, it turns out, was the son of the arguing elderly couple. He loaded the shotgun and had, therefore, murdered himself.
We tend to judge the depth of our sin by the seriousness of the consequences. That can only send us, as Ron Harper aptly points out, into endless speculation of “what ifs” and “yes, buts.” The emotional torment of doing this will never end. Even if you try to convince yourself you weren’t really at fault, your heart will give you no peace.
There’s a better way. Take the whole mess to Jesus, lay it at his feet, and ask him if he would cleanse you. Ask him to wash you clean, and make you feel like you just stepped out of a bubble bath.