The Big Secret - Troubled Conscience in Ottawa
He was much younger then. The most of his life was still ahead of him. What was its appeal that caught his eye in the first place and caused him to take the second look? How many times did he pass by it and harbour deep secret desires towards it? How often did he plan to do it but then chickened out? Or was it a rashly impulsive, spur of the moment thing – where he saw it; looked around and with the "all clear" signal ringing in his ears, he took it? Could he actually carry out his mission, have it and live the rest of his life with the benefits of it? We may never know and he may never tell us all the details. All we know is – he did it. He now had the bronze statuette from the 18th century of the British General James Wolfe who is a part of Canadian history.
Fast forward now – 60 years later. An old man (his own words) day after day wondering how he can resolve the inner turmoil. How can he find peace and a way to soothe his conscience? How much did he enjoy his dark secret over the six decades? How much happiness did he genuinely derive from the stolen treasure? That which he loved became that which he hated – the object of his desire became the reminder of his guilt. Year after year – the guilt wouldn't go away. Just like a nasty ulcer eating away at his insides, he couldn't seem to shake it.
If he immersed himself in his job or surrounded himself with partying friends or flitted or sailed away to destinations each year – would that blot out the foolish deed? Volunteering and giving hard earned cash to charities – would that offset the wrong or erase the stain that soiled his character that fateful day?
Gnawing deep inside, tormenting his mind night after night – who can measure the cumulative effect of years of harbouring a secret crime of any size? And now with most of his years behind him he projects his thinking into the future. It's one thing to live with unforgiven secrets but to die with them unforgiven? An unbearable thought if one thinks about it – but most don't allow their minds to go there. Live for the moment is the motto of most. The future will take care of itself.
It's highly unlikely that elephants or even other long-living beasts live their years with a deep inner turmoil over stolen food in their past or pointless destructive behaviour or cruel aggression towards perceived predators when they were younger. If humans seem to be uniquely different in their moral sense of right and wrong, it is because we are.
It was a Sunday in the month of May when he could cover-it up no longer. The old man sits at a keyboard and for the first time in his many years of living, he now translates his 60 year old secret into words and formulates a confession. Even if it is anonymous, it will soothe his conscience a little. At least he will no longer have the thing around him to constantly remind him of his moral failure – his sin.
The note is typewritten – ever so carefully and truthfully – but not truth in its entirety; for to expose his identity a penalty could still be imposed by some unbending representative of the law. A properly sized grocery bag is found. The once cherished object that had since caused him so much grief and regret is carefully placed inside.
"Sir, do you really think that returning the statuette, anonymously or otherwise will remove your guilt?"
Did it take him some time to muster up sufficient courage to execute his conscience-soothing plan? Fourteen days after the note was written, a man appeared at the desk of the Lord Elgin Hotel in Ottawa (Ontario, Canada) claiming to have found the package in the washroom but when questioned he disappeared into the crowd in the lobby.
Whether the old man himself left it in the washroom of the hotel or presented himself as the stranger who found it there – we may never know. But finally, after so long a time, he no longer has the stolen object. The Hotel will ensure the historic bronze statuette gets back to where it belongs among the nation's cherished pieces of history.
Do you have anything in your life that haunts you from time to time? Perhaps it is not an illegal thing but immoral maybe. Not a crime listed in the Criminal Code of your country but definitely a 'wrong' that you know is on the record of your conscience and – yes, on God's record.
Meditation (Think Deeply) Points
- Humans, made in the image of God and after His likeness, have a moral character and an intellect and an ability to relate to God that is uniquely and distinctly 'human' - distinguishing me and you from any other part of God's creation. We are not the product of an evolutionary process that finally achieved 'human' status. (Genesis 1:26 - supported by evidence around the planet and across the centuries.)
- This moral character is supported by a moral device unique to humans called the conscience. It detects violations of what is believed to be morally right and sends out alarm signals when we have crossed an inner boundary of what we know to be right. Someone has called the conscience 'God's deputy in our souls.'
- All wrong doing (sin) is vertical first and horizontal second. Any and all sin is first against God and secondly against the one that has been wronged on earth. Sin is anything that is contrary to God's holy character and His goodness.
- Wrongs in my life that have never surfaced on earth and appear on no records maintained by humans, are detailed in full by God in His books of accountability. God maintains books. (Revelation 20:12)
- God not only maintains books, He knows all our secrets and holds us accountable for things only we ourselves know about ourselves. He knows the secrets of our hearts. (Psalm 44:21) Everything is transparent before His holy eyes – even the thoughts of our hearts. Secret deeds that haunt us and secret thoughts we flirt with in the playground of our mind – are recorded as sin in God's records.
- There is a future day when Jesus Christ will preside as the Judge and every secret men and women have had in their lives will be exposed. (Romans 2:16)
- Making amends down here does not erase what is already recorded up there. If wrong-doers are forgiven down here, it does not mean the sin is forgiven vertically. (Re-read #3 above.) Read the prodigal son story who had wronged his father n Luke Chapter 15. The prodigal son eventually realized his sin was first and foremost against God Himself and then against his father. (Luke 15:18)
- No sin – not one will ever enter God's Heaven. That's His rule. The Bible says – "Nothing that is defiling" will enter. (Revelation 21:27) This means your sins in total MUST be forgiven before you die, or you will never be in Heaven.
- Full forgiveness of every one of your sins is possible today through faith in the Lord Jesus Christ. Christ died for our sins (1Corinthians 15:3) That means He bore God's righteous penalty and punishment for our sins. And now, because of Him and through Him you can receive the full forgiveness of your sins. "Through this Man is preached to you the forgiveness of sins." Acts 13:38. "The blood of Jesus Christ, His Son cleanses us from all our sin." 1John 1:7
Wait no longer. Today is the day for you to come to God with an acknowledgement of your sins and your guilt. Repentance toward God and faith in the Lord Jesus Christ as your personal Saviour is what is required by God. Simultaneous with this response from your heart will be the pronouncement from God: "FORGIVEN!" At that moment you will be saved and you will receive eternal life – a life that you can never lose.