When I was a single father, and my daughter was at her grandparent’s house, I fixed a steak on the small hibachi on the front porch. It was a covered wooden porch but the roof was ten feet high and, like I say, it was a small hibachi. The steak I was cooking covered a majority of its surface area. When the steak was ready, I ate it along with the vegetables I had fixed, then put the dishes in the sink. All the while the front door was wide open.

I laid down on the couch, the left two feet of which faced the front door, and fell asleep watching television. At some point, I was awoken from a deep sleep to the foggy place in between deep sleep and fully awake. I heard a sound, some running steps, and doors slamming. I got on my feet, clawing through the fog, and headed for the open door. I watched the car pull away.

The hibachi was gone. Which was not a tragic loss – I had not paid much for it. But there had been burning coals and ashes in it! I looked around on the porch and over the side where I figured they would dump it. There were, however, no ashes to be found. Not even between the porch and the middle of the street. The two young men had just shoved a grill with a burning fire in their car.

As I stood there looking in the direction in which they had driven and shaking my head, I had a vision of these two guys driving around with steaks, looking for a grill to cook them on. In my mind I saw them driving to a park, pulling out the hibachi and blowing on the coals to cook their steaks. Why else would they take a cheap hibachi costing less than fifteen dollars – with a fire in it no less? It is doubtful they were looking for a grill for their family.

Most likely they were just stealing it for a prank. When they realized it had burning embers in it they did not have time to dump them out before escaping, as it were, in their car. But did they dare each other? Remember, I had the front door open and was laying on the couch facing the door (albeit asleep). What about the hibachi was worth taking the chances they took? Had I thought fast enough, and cared about the hibachi enough, I could have read the number on their license plate.

Thinking back on the occasion, the situation calls to mind those times when we commit sins and think that no one knows or we “got away with it.” Getting too much money in change from an inexperienced or overworked employee at the store, for example. Or being charged less than the actual price and keeping silent. Parking in a handicapped parking space when not at all disabled would be another example. There are many other examples.

We inwardly dare ourselves to not say anything, while at the same time we know it is morally wrong. We think no one notices. We tell ourselves that makes it “okay.” But God is standing on the front porch, shaking his head, watching as we walk or drive away – wondering why we think we have “gotten away” with anything.

Peace be with you.