“It’s a miracle!” Says my pastor recently at a Sunday church service speaking on the subject of forgiveness. He continued saying that, “Jesus’ prayer, ‘Father forgive them for they know not what they do…,’ while hanging dying on the cross, was not motivated because of an apology.” Jesus forgave the very people crucifying Him while they were completely oblivious in their sin.
[20 hours earlier…]
“Hey baby, you ready to go?” I asked Tammi as we prepared to leave for bible study. We always enjoy attending this particular bible study since its a Spanish-speaking one that allows us to kill two birds with one stone. We study the bible and apply it to our lives while gaining more practice using our Spanish, of which I need the most help in the group.
“Yeah,” she said as I turned the alarm on and headed for the garage to get into the car. Since my car was not doing well at all, we left it parked outside our garage near our street. I’m reminded of its pitiful state every time see it as we leave each day. So with the garage door fully opened, we backed out and simultaneously pressed the remote button to close the garage, I did my typical left then right look that everyone learns at a young age before going out into the street. Only this time I noticed something very unusual.
There was a grapefruit-sized hole in the back window my car. In fact, the entire window was now distorted because of hundreds of tiny cracks running every which way through out it. I stopped the car before I could even clear the drive way.
“What the…!?” I felt a sudden rush a range of emotions from surprise to confusion, from anger to more confusion. There was a 5 second pause before I got out the car to immediately open the garage door and rush inside to get my keys in order to more closely examine the damage. With my veins full of confused adrenaline I walked back outside to open the door and see what made such a mess of my window. I looked in the back seat, which was covered with glass, and there it was laying on the floor. A rock no bigger than a baseball. More anger and confusion arose.
I dropped the rock back on the floor and closed the door and more glass crumbled from the window making the hole that much bigger. “Why?” I thought to myself. I looked around as if someone may have been watching. I got back into the car with Tammi and pulled it out of the driveway and parked. It was going to rain heavy very soon so I knew I needed to get my car into the garage before it started.
“Man…,” Tammi said in a silent and discouraged manner. I agreed silently before getting back out the car.
I got in my car and shut the door. More glass fell and sent another wave of anger and confusion into my mind. I started the car- which was a surprise- and pulled it up the uneven driveway with every bump and movement making even more glass fall off the window until it was safely inside the garage. The small grapefruit sized hole was gone. The entire window was out. I got out and sarcastically welcomed the extra falling glass from the window as I closed the door to the car. I went to the key pad outside the garage and paused to think. No ideas came to mind, so I walked away not knowing how I should be feeling or who would do such a thing.
I got into the car and we drove off for bible study in confused silence. Someone vandalized our car. There was an occasional “Why would someone do that?” and a “This is crazy.” But what captured my heart and mind’s attention was what Tammi said 10 minutes into the car ride.
“That’s God’s car,” she said bringing back to remembrance that fact that everything we had was His. “I wonder what He’s going to do? He has to do something!” she continued. My wife’s faith and love relationship with our Heavenly Father has a way of bringing peace into the atmosphere and she had done it again.
“It’s your car, Lord.” I said in agreement as we continued to drive to the bible study. “I forgive them,” I said under my breath, but I wondered if I really meant it. I would soon find out.
Bible study was so refreshing that, while we were in the car on our way home, I realized I had only thought about the hole in my car window once or twice while there and was not affected by it while there. Community is important as a believer since it restores our strength and encourages us spiritually. Which is what we needed.
The drive home was different than the drive there. I found myself daydreaming about what I would do to the person if I saw them. “What if the person visited us? I would fake being nice getting them into the house and then mess with them freaking them out so they would never do it again!? No.” I shook my head trying to get the thoughts out of it and it worked…for two minutes. “Ooo it was probably those kids down the street who hang out late at night outside their house. I could sneak up on them in all black and…no.” I soon realized I was doing the same thing that a person does if they haven’t completely forgiven a person. I stopped. Plus, I was terrible at revenge daydreams anyways.
By the time we arrived home it was raining cats and dogs. We pulled into the driveway up to the garage door and sat there. “You ready?” I said to Tammi making sure she was ready to walk out in the rain for a couple seconds towards the garage.
After a moment, “Ok, I’m ready.” she said.
The slow opening of the garage door was ridiculous since I knew what I would see once it opened fully, and almost hoping that the problem would be gone. I sighed as the door revealed my busted car. We got out and walked towards the door. “Now I have to walk in the rain,” I thought to myself, blaming it on the person who put us in this predicament. We walked inside after giving my car one last look over and closed the door.
After not being able to attend church for the last 3 weeks, we woke up the next morning with a good anticipation for being back. If only I knew what my Pastor was going to address. Forgiveness.
“Its a miracle!” Said my pastor. “Jesus’ forgiveness prayer, ‘Father forgive them…,” while hanging on the cross,” he continued, “Was not motivated by an apology.”
He continued on to explain how only God working through us in the Holy Spirit can lead us to forgive someone when they have wronged or even hurt us. What pique my interest was the fact that Jesus forgave first without being motivated by someone saying sorry!
“I don’t even know the person who did this!” I thought to myself, “I must forgive them even if I never meet them.” The end result?