By Kay Etheredge
It is quiet and I am not eavesdropping but I can hear snatches of conversation coming from down the hall. Daniel Roberson is talking to someone about forgiveness. His voice is deliberate and kind and he is telling deep spiritual truths that we all need to hear and I feel like I am at an altar and not a desk, in a sanctuary and not an office.
“You need to look at a conflict and ask what percentage you may be wrong”, Daniel says. “If you’re only 1% wrong then you need to ask forgiveness for that part”.
Daniel walks by later and I tell him how much I appreciate what he said, and he says how he wishes he had known it himself before now. And don’t we all long to go back and be what we are in Christ when we were in bondage to sin?
We know someone who went through a terrible divorce around 35 years ago. Her husband was unfaithful to her and she found out about it and there was deep pain inflicted and two children suffered and a family imploded. He re-married but she never did. And for almost 35 years she kept something that belonged to him, something that he treasured, because she knew just how very much he wanted it.
He had been a hunter and had shot and killed a pheasant and had it stuffed. The pheasant was a prized possession, but she refused to let him take it when the divorce happened. He had hurt her deeply and she found this small thing was a way that she could hurt back…she could make him pay…she could mete out her own tiny bit of revenge.
Years passed and the bird sat on top of her television set. Her children got older. They divided their time between two parents that they loved dearly, in spite of the hurtful things that had happened. And as they became adults, they would occasionally say, “Why don’t you give the pheasant back to Dad?” Her response was always the same. “No. It’s mine”.
The children married. One lived nearby and had a son. Another moved to a different state, but would visit when he could. Whenever one of them asked about the pheasant, the answer was the same. “No. It’s mine”.
One day, about two years ago, both sons were at her home at the same time. One of them asked about the pheasant again. This time she hesitated. She got up from her chair, got the bird, and said, “Take it”. After almost 35 years with both parties now in their 80’s, she gave up the pheasant.
Forgiveness happens like that. We have to release the right to get revenge. It doesn’t mean that we weren’t wronged but it means we give up the right to exact payment for that wrong. It is not an act that comes naturally to our sinful natures. It is a supernatural act to forgive.
Close to 100 men live at Brother Bryan Mission. They are living in an environment where things can annoy, anger can be held in, and explosions can happen. They are being taught by faithful, godly staff members to forgive…as Daniel put it, “To let things go”.
Sometimes we find that freedom is better than the small amount of pleasure we get from vengeance. I wonder if this dear lady sat and watched football games and Wheel of Fortune and listened to the ticking away of 35 years on the clock and she just realized it is time to lay it down. To let it go.
I hear applause coming from the cafeteria next door. There is warm food on the tables and the men are growing. And there are godly, faithful men here who work hard to teach them biblical truths.
Sometimes altars are found where we least expect them.