Yes, as my previous post reveals, I did not expect to post again so soon. But my busy plans were interrupted by a knee injury. So about all I could do yesterday, and that with the help of a friend, is go to WalMart, get crutches, and rest my knee. And I won’t be doing much more than that today. (I think something is strained, not torn. I will rest it for what was going to be a busy weekend and see.)
This is the first time I’ve used crutches since 8th grade, and it brings back to mind an episode back then.
My heroic B-team soccer career had just been ended when a teammate, during practice, took out my ankle while going for the ball. Yes, he was a bit over-enthusiastic. It was a bad sprain, so I was to stay off it. Hence the crutches.
Back then, my distance running had not yet gained respect as it would that Spring, and I was a frequent target for teasing. One day right before a class period, a boy took my crutches and ran around with them. While I was athletically hopping around on one foot trying to retrieve them, one of the sterner teachers appeared. She was not happy. It was clear the boy was in trouble.
Now, in 7th grade, I would have greatly anticipated the justice to come. I had been picked on for most of my childhood, and I relished those rare times when my tormenters got what was coming to them. But in the middle of 8th grade, God had been working on me. Later on that year, on Maundy Thursday, also my 14th birthday, I made my first profession of faith at Casa Linda Presbyterian Church.
So something came over me and, without really thinking about it, I intervened and told the teacher that we were just joking around. It was not some difficult decision; it was instinct, and instinct I surely would not have had a year or more before.
I do not know if the teacher believed me. She did not look very convinced and surely had noticed I was a target of teasing at other times. But she chose to go with my word and let it drop on the spot.
The boy thanked me profusely as he returned my crutches. He knew very well I had spared him.
My point is telling this is not to make you think, “What a good boy Mark was.” I have my regrets from 8th grade, too. The time I did not take up for a friend – a friend who was a good friend to me after my mom died – still bothers me. Jamie Devlin, if you are out there, I am sorry.
My point is that there are times to forgive when the recipient of forgiveness has done nothing to merit it – no apology, no repentance, nothing. Is forgiveness a Christian obligation at such times? No, and I oppose such teaching that Christians should always forgive no matter what. I do not think that is what the Bible teaches, and I do not at all like putting false guilt on victims.
But God chose to forgive me long before I had it in my mind to apologize and receive his forgiveness. And surely a good way to witness about God and his forgiveness is to model it by doing likewise. Not to mention being like the Father can and should be a pleasure to a child of the Father.
And I have to admit, even the 8th grade Mark got more pleasure out of giving forgiveness than he would have out of receiving justice. He did not think it through; it was a spur of the moment decision. But it was one of the best decisions he made.