Rockville, Maryland is a little town just outside Washington, D.C.
I had taken a semester off from school to go to work in an effort to try to determine what I wanted to do with my life. I worked for a small electronics company in Rockville.
On December 9, 1982, around 6:50 in the morning, I had just pulled into the parking lot across the street from where I worked. While driving across the lot, about half way across (the lot was empty that morning), my passenger side window exploded and I found myself slammed hard against the driver’s side door. It took a moment to realize….I’d just been shot. In the face.
I’ll spare you the story as to how I managed to stop the car, get a ride to the hospital, and eventually make it home. It was quite a day for a 20 year old fellow to experience. I often thought that something like this would never happen to someone like me, but it did.
I was soaked to the skin in my own blood and my jaw was broken. The officer interviewing me in the hospital said three other people were shot at around that same time in the same area, I was the only one who got hit. Lucky me.
The doctor wired my jaw shut for two months and put me on, naturally, a liquid diet. Through it all, I never once found myself angry with whoever did this to me. I only wanted them found so I could ask them why they did it. The person(s) responsible were never found. Nevertheless, I forgave them, and tried my best to put that day behind me. I forgave them. I didn’t even know who it was I forgave, but the Bible said to do that, so I did.
Even though I spent the six to eight years in a fog, I never once felt any anger towards whoever did that to me. (I couldn’t think straight, I couldn’t remember things, old friends now seemed like strangers to me. Part of my life was missing).
Fast forward to the year 2003 (21 years later). Fourth of July weekend. Family fun, food and fireworks. My parents lived two hours south of us in the L.A. area (Simi Valley, CA). My sister and her children live there too. Now, my sister was never the type of person you’d want looking after your children. She was somewhat irresponsible and is known to make poor decisions. So when I was asked if my son could go home with them for a few days (summer time, no school), I said no. It has never been a secret how I felt about my sister. I loved her dearly but I did not trust her with the care and well being of my children. My parents offered, since they lived nearby, to allow my son to stay with them and he could then spend time with his cousins at my parent’s house. I agreed.
The next day, we received a phone call from the hospital in Simi Valley. My son had been in an accident. We later found out that he was riding his skateboard, being towed behind his aunt’s car down the street in her neighborhood. His aunt, my sister, (remember the poor decision maker?) turned a corner too fast and launched him towards the edge of the road. He wiped out big time. He had road rash all over one side of his body, and the side of his face. He looked like he had just been though a meat grinder. He was torn up pretty badly. Add a loosened tooth and a concussion, and this 15 year old kid wasn’t feeling very well. His only regret about the entire incident was that no one video taped it. I should have learned from him, but I didn’t.
My sister later called to apologize for what she had done, and I told her not to worry about it, and I hung up. Actually, on the inside, I was steaming. Anger was burning like an inferno inside me. On the outside I acted as though it was no big deal. Stuff happens, right? My son is alive and he’ll heal and he should be just fine. But no, on the inside I was furious. They lied to me. They deceived me, and my son, my one and only son, paid the price and got hurt. How could I forgive that? I didn’t speak to my sister for a long time after that. In my mind I was screaming, “YOU HURT MY SON!” “MY SON SUFFERED BECAUSE OF WHAT YOU DID!” YOUR POOR DECISIONS CAUSED MY SON PAIN AND SUFFERING!” “YOU…HURT…MY…SON!!”
I know what you are thinking, and you are right. But we’ll come back to that later.
Several months later, my son Josh was all healed up. His concussion was healed, all the road rash scars had healed and he felt great. He made a full recovery. And he still loves skateboarding.
One Sunday afternoon, after our monthly horse show, Josh and I were driving home from the arena, through a busy area of town. We were in the ¾ ton pick-up truck and hauling both horses in the large three horse gooseneck trailer. It was just about sunset. As we approached that particular intersection, the sun moved just right so we were both blinded by the sun. I couldn’t see that I was about to run a red light. We T-Boned a mini-van in the intersection. Totaled both vehicles. Josh cried out to God. By the grace of God, no one was hurt. I found out that the woman in the mini-van was a Christian, she was on her way to church. Once we knew everyone was okay, we all prayed together on that street corner.
As you may have guessed, it was my fault. I ran the red light and I caused that collision. I hurt someone, destroyed her vehicle and inconvenienced her life. I felt terrible. I couldn’t get over the fact that I was the one responsible for the entire incident. Don’t forget, my son was with me that day. That was important that he be there. I didn’t know that at the time. I found that out later on.
For weeks I anguished over what I had done. I was literally sick to my stomach. I constantly felt nauseous. It took all the strength I had just to get through the day.
One morning, while in the kitchen preparing to go to work, I cried out to God “How long to I have to feel this way?” I heard a voice, very loud, and very clear, in my head. It said, “Until you learn”.
“Until I learn what?”
Just then, it hit me. All the anger and negative feelings I had towards my sister came flooding back to my mind. I had never felt more ashamed of anything in my life before, or since that moment. I immediately fell to my knees, almost smashing my forehead against the kitchen counter, and I begged the Lord to forgive me. But God wasn’t finished with me. The next thing the Holy Spirit prompted was “Call her”. Ouch. I called my sister and confessed everything, and begged her to forgive me. She did. She didn’t know I had felt that way all that time. The burden of that sIn was immediately lifted from me, and I felt much better. I felt like I could fly. I also realized why it was so important that Josh had been with me that day. I couldn’t live with myself at thought of him being hurt or injured because of something I had done.
The Bible tells us to forgive. It doesn’t place any conditions on forgiveness, it just says to do it.
How can we expect God to forgive us, if we don’t forgive each other?
Do you have someone you need to forgive?
Is there someone who you would like to have forgive you?
Don’t forget God’s telephone number…Jer. 33:3, “Call unto me and I will answer thee, and show you great many things that thou knowest not”.
Make the call.
I am so glad that our Heavenly Father doesn’t react to situations the way I did. Can you imagine if He held it against us for what was done to His Son? Can your hear God saying “YOU HURT MY SON! HE DID NOTHING WRONG, AND YOU HURT HIM, AND YOU KILLED HIM!” YOU HURT MY SON!!” Yet instead, Jesus himself beseeched His Father, and asked Him to forgive us, because we didn’t understand what we were doing. How awesome is that!?!
“Father, forgive them, for they know not what they do”.
Oh, how thankful I am that we serve a gracious and merciful and forgiving God. His Son was hurt and punished and put to death for your sins and for mine. But He did it because He loves us.
We are human. We sin. That’s life. Every time we sin, we hurt His Son. Call on God. Seek His forgiveness. Everything that could be done to secure for you a place in Heaven, has been done, through the life and death and resurrection of Jesus Christ, God’s Son. Make the call.
I once heard a fellow say that even if you were the only person on earth, Jesus would have still died for you. Upon hearing this, the man’s wife said, “Yes, but then I would have to have been the one to kill Him”.
Something to think about.