A Bad Deed

My older children read my recent “Pantless in Seattle” blog entry and found it wanting. “It wasn’t very funny,” they said.

You would think that, with all of Seattle to choose from, I would have little difficulty in finding humorous content. But, then, maybe the problem is with me. It is true that I tend toward dry and sardonic humor rather than slapstick comedy … I can see how my children would find that disappointing.

The makers of Jelly Belly candies are marketing a new candy-coated chocolate that they call “JBs” — a recent radio commercial suggests that a lot of fun things could be even more fun. They propose a birthday party on a roller coaster (you hear the voice of an anguished boy shouting, “My presents!” over the clank and roar of a roller coaster, suggesting the havoc that centrifugal force and gravity would play on a birthday party). They also suggest adding clowns to baseball games, which I think would probably liven-up an otherwise boring sport, especially with the Mariners in last place.

“It’s a line drive, off Crazy Tom at third base, picked up by the shortstop … who gets a pie in the face from Laughing Larry Briskin!” says the announcer. The world could definitely use more slapstick.

But sometimes life is not so funny, especially when there is sin involved. Yesterday I was a little late leaving the house, and hence was driving a little more aggressively than I usually do. Exiting the highway at Poulsbo, I roared around the left-turning traffic in the right lane (legal, but not at the speed I was traveling) and cut in front of a small red sedan in time to make my subsequent left turn at the next traffic light. My reckless antics did not go unnoticed … the two men in the red sedan were shaking their heads, and the motorcycle cop in the oncoming traffic gave me a few seconds of close attention.

My relief that the motorcycle policeman did not turn around was short-lived … soon I became aware that the red sedan was following me to my bus stop. As I parked, I reflected on the fact that I much prefer my reckless driving to be kept on an anonymous level … I’d rather not be held to account by a real flesh & blood person. I sighed, and walked over to the red car to apologize. The passenger, who I now recognized as a fellow-commuter, looked particularly disgusted. He dismissed my excuse about being in a hurry to catch the bus: “You had five minutes to spare.” After renewing my apologies (this time without an excuse) they grudgingly forgave me. As I walked away, they mentioned that my left front tire was nearly flat (having had a recent opportunity to observe it at close quarters).

April 2004 Pictures 082.jpg
This is the bus that I ride. I didn’t think the guys I cut off would appreciate having their picture taken.

I am not a very observant person. How long would it have taken me to notice that something was amiss with not one, but both of my front tires? I suspect that, had I not apologized, those men would not (in a passive-aggressive sort of justice) have mentioned anything about my tire. Where would I have been, when one or both of those tires finally gave up the ghost? In the evening the car was still (barely) driveable and I was able to limp to a filling station and fill the tires long enough to get to Costco, where I had them both replaced.

When I was in the Army, I acquired this motto: “No good deed ever goes unpunished.” I have found this to be nearly true … many “good deeds” result in negative consequences, sometimes from surprising sources. While this line of thinking is a bit on the cynical side, I find it helpful to consider the likely cost of a good deed in advance, not allowing that cost to discourage me unduly. My Dad even lettered it on a small plaque for me, and it hangs on the wall above my desk. But it would seem that I have overlooked a possible corollary, “No bad deed is unforgiveable.”

Of course, this is only possible within the context of the grace of God and the forgiveness available through the blood of His Son, Jesus Christ. If you don’t love God, and if you haven’t accepted Jesus as your Savior, then your bad deeds are, indeed, unforgiven (along with your so-called good deeds). If you find yourself in that case, I recommend you repair that condition immediately … write to me and I’ll be glad to tell you how.

The moral of the story is twofold: 1) always apologize quickly, and 2) God’s power is able to turn a bad deed into a good outcome.

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