Love and Forgiveness
There is nothing that keeps love aflame and marriage on track like forgiveness. Yet, it is also the most difficult remedy to apply. The deeper the love, the deeper the hurt. That is when the 1 Corinthians 13 love that “keeps no record of wrong” seems so impossible to apply. Jesus said, “Love each other in the same way I have loved you” (John 15:12 NLT). That means He didn’t divorce and walk away from us when we messed up. He said that, “if we confess our sins to him, he is faithful and just to forgive us our sins . . .” (1 John 1:9 NLT).
Sometimes I need a carpenter (or is it the Carpenter) to help me get past my hurt feelings of “unforgiveness,” as the following story reveals.
Once upon a time two brothers who lived on adjoining farms fell into conflict. It was the first serious rift in 40 years of farming side by side, sharing machinery, and trading labor and goods as needed without a hitch. Then the long collaboration fell apart.
It began with a small misunderstanding and it grew into a major difference, and finally it exploded into an exchange of bitter words followed by weeks of silence.
One morning there was a knock on John’s door. He opened it to find a man with a carpenter’s toolbox. “I’m looking for a few days work,” the man said. “Perhaps you would have a few small jobs here and there. Could I help you?”
“Yes,” said the older brother. “I do have a job for you. Look across the creek at that farm. That’s my neighbor, in fact, it’s my younger brother. Last week there was a meadow between us and he took his bulldozer to the river levee and now there is a creek between us. Well, he may have done this to spite me, but I’ll do him one better. See that pile of lumber curing by the barn? I want you to build me a fence – an 8-foot fence – so I won’t need to see his place anymore. That’ll show him.
The carpenter said, “I think I understand the situation. Show me the nails and the posthole digger and I’ll be able to do a job that pleases you.”
The older brother had to go to town for supplies, so he helped the carpenter get the materials ready and then he was off for the day. The carpenter worked hard all that day measuring, sawing, nailing.
About sunset when the farmer returned, the carpenter had just finished his job. The farmer’s eyes opened wide. His jaw dropped. There was no fence at all. It was a bridge – a bridge stretching from one side of the creek to the other! A fine piece of work, handrails and all – and the neighbor, his younger brother, was coming across, his hand outstretched.
“You are quite a fellow to build this bridge after all I’ve said and done.”
The two brothers met at the middle of the bridge, taking each other’s hand. They turned to see the carpenter hoist his toolbox on his shoulder. “No, wait! Stay a few days. I’ve a lot of other projects for you,” said the older brother.
“I’d love to say on,” the carpenter said, “but I have so many more bridges to build.”
P.S.: I am looking forward to the Darold Bigger seminar on forgiveness coming up on February 19 and 20. Plan now to attend. Don’t miss it!