So yesterday I partook in a Humble Pie buffet. A day before I left Sea World a new exhibit, Antarctica: Empire of the Penguin, opened. Sea World was offering free Antarctic fare to employees. Each employee got one meal ticket. I felt that the portions were small and I was “man hungry”. A friend of mine went through the line and they forgot to take her meal ticket. I saw the ticket and immediately thought, FREE MEAL. I snatched up the ticket and went back for a second “Free” meal. Meanwhile, my co-workers went to the Exhibit without me. The ravenous feeling I’d had earlier quickly gave way to guilt.
It was a complete lapse in judgment as my hunger overrode my morals. I doubted God’s provision for my needs completely. It led me to steal that “free” meal. How quickly I forgot that God replaced my roof and ceilings at a cost of $25,000 to my insurance company. That He found a buyer for my upside down truck. Or that He completely funded my trip to the Exodus Conference in California. The conviction of the Holy Spirit came in questions. “Why are you rationalizing wrong motives and stealing food? Have I ever reduced you to begging for scraps of bread?” I knew I had made the wrong choice. I began to rationalize how to fix the problem. Were my actions “really” wrong? Maybe I could get another ticket from someone who hadn’t eaten. Ultimately, I knew my action though simple was in fact a willful act of sin. I had to make it right.
I confessed my actions to a friend. I needed to go back and pay for the meal. A month later I returned to Sea World as a guest to pay for the meal. God didn’t make it easy. The parking attendants parked us in the lot farthest from the gate. I exited the car and began my long, hot walk of shame. Ironically, I was bathed in sweat by the time I arrived at Antarctica. I wasn’t sure how I was going to do this. I saw a lone cashier and headed for him. I told the young man I needed to pay for a chicken meal. He said I was supposed to get the food first. I told him that I had already gotten the food, which was true, but like an idiot I KEPT TALKING! I told him I already got the food then informed him that the rest of my party was inside. “LIAR!”. “LIAR!”. I got my receipt and began to walk away and the Holy Spirit was on me again. Ever gently. Ever persistent. “Matthew, you did the right thing, but you lied again in an effort to spare yourself embarrassment.” UGH!!!! He was right. It was embarrassing as well, because God revealed to me how easy it was to lie to get through an uncomfortable situation. I fixed my first lie, with a second lie.
The Holy Spirit just kept telling me to fix it. The efforts to be pure and Holy in other areas of my life were worth nothing if I let this lie stand. Commence Antarctica walk of shame number 2. I was beginning to hate Penguins. What was I going to say? Eventually, I settled on telling the truth. I stepped up again and said something to this effect. Hi, Do you remember when they gave the employees a free lunch? Well I used to work here and the cashier didn’t take one of my co-workers tickets, so I took the ticket and got a second free meal. It’s been eating me up ever since so I needed to come back and pay for that meal. That is the meal that I just paid for. “ I don’t think I have seen a more confused look since I told my friend Linda I was gay the night before a landmark genetics test. The kid looked at me and and said, “Okay.” Which is teenager for, “Okay Loser, can I go back to doing nothing?” I left and all was right with the universe again. I didn’t even ask for a pass member discount. My conscience was clear. My wallet $10.64 lighter. I was once again ready for another opportunity to trust God.