How often have we heard those words? That answer. Countless times. You may have been the one asking the question of one of your children, students, or teammates. Even a spouse could have said it! If you’re honest, if I’m honest, you and I have said it as well.
It’s the answer to a question about something that isn’t in the right place or something that’s missing or something that is damaged or broken. It’s the answer as well for something that has been forgotten, left undone, done in the wrong way at the wrong time.
One of my favorite recent questions where that answer was used is:
“Who put the jar of pickles in the freezer?”
Yes, it had been a crazy day when that happened, but even so, some things don’t have an explanation.
We humans have been using that answer since the Garden of Eden. When asked about a responsibility that we have been given, not done or done differently than asked, we really prefer to assign the mistake to someone or something else. It is built into our DNA after that fruit-eating afternoon in Eden.
We don’t like to admit we failed, goofed up, forgot, let someone down, or made the wrong choice about almost anything. How little we understood that it wasn’t the fruit’s fault. (Ask my children and grandchildren about the time I said, “It wasn’t the doggone plum’s fault!”)
It wasn’t really the serpent’s fault back in the Garden either. Sure, he was guilty of tempting Adam and Eve, but he didn’t make them eat that delicious looking fruit. They chose! Ever since then, we have been trying to squirm out of owning the truth that we have made the choice (or failed to make the choice) that brings that answer to our lips (“It wasn’t me!”). At the core of us, we hate our fallibility so we try to deny or hide it.
Many of the times we use that answer it is really for something small, almost insignificant, and occasionally we don’t even recall what we were asked to do or that we absentmindedly did or forgot.
It’s obvious we are not so unlike our original parents, Adam and Eve. It is also clear none of us are so much different than the original disciples. Perhaps it isn’t just about owning our mistakes, but fearing we will lose love when we let someone down or disappoint them. Our answer then is to dodge, excuse, or lie. Isn’t that what caused Adam and Eve to try to hide?
When Morpheus gives Neo a choice between the red pill and the blue pill in “The Matrix”, Neo has the choice to see how far the rabbit hole goes or to stay just as he is. He cannot really blame his choice on someone else. It is his. Morpheus makes that clear and so does the Oracle later.
God gave us the gift of choice. The gift seems to be a mixed bag for us. We love it, but we also often want to run from making a choice that might be hard. We also may run from accepting the responsibility for a choice we did or did not make.
Whatever choice we make, God honors that choice.
Our choices lead us forward day-by-day. They both shape and show our character. God wants us to choose Him, choose His love, His grace, His forgiveness, and more, but He doesn’t demand it.
Love doesn’t come to anyone when it is demanded.
He has already chosen us. Our response to that choice is our choice to make. If we don’t choose Him the first time He calls us, He will honor that choice but also try again to reach us at another time and place. He doesn’t want us to be separated from Him, but if we don’t ever choose Him then at some point that open door to Him will close.
I so often hear that it isn’t fair that God would judge those who have not accepted Him if He is so loving. The question is sometimes asked why He would allow any to perish. Such a question reflects a distortion of reality. By failing to choose the Lord and accept Him, we really judge ourselves because the standard has already been set. We will not be able to say, “It wasn’t me.”
The choice to not choose Him results in us being responsible for the judgment that then comes. We made the choice. It was us.