A Journey Named Forgiveness

Once, a young boy, named Jamie, and his sister Tara went on their first-ever train ride to visit their grandparents. The grandparents lived on a farm in central Iowa.

On the second day of Jamie’s visit, his grandfather presented him with a slingshot. Together Jamie and his grandfather set up empty tin cans on fence posts in the woods just beyond the farm.

The grandfather cautioned his grandson. “Now, Jamie, you may use this slingshot to aim at empty cans or other non-living targets. But you must never aim the slingshot at any human being or at any living creature. You understand?”

“Yes, sir, Grandpa,” Jamie replied solemnly.

The grandfather watched for a few minutes while Jamie picked up stray pebbles and took aim at the empty cans. The grandfather had other farm chores that demanded his attention. So, after a while, the grandfather strolled off to irrigate his vegetable crops. Jamie was on his own with his new slingshot and the tin cans.

Jamie was excited about being entrusted with the slingshot. For about an hour, Jamie practiced shooting at the empty cans poised on the fence posts. Try as he did, however, Jamie could not shoot a single tin can cleanly off a fence post. More than a little discouraged, Jamie stuffed the slingshot into his back pocket, and he headed back to the farmhouse for dinner.

While he made his way to the farmhouse, Jamie spotted his grandmother’s pet duck waddling near one of the ponds on the farm. On an impulse, Jamie removed the slingshot from his pocket. He picked up a medium-sized stone, placed it in the elastic strap of the slingshot and let the stone fly.

The stone hit the duck squarely in the head…and killed it.

Jamie was stunned at what he had done. For a long moment, he froze where he was standing.

Then, in a panic, Jamie retrieved the dead duck. He hid its limp body in a nearby wood pile. Once he finished disposing of the duck, Jamie looked around him…only to catch sight of his sister watching him.

Tara had seen all that Jamie had done. She put her hands on her hips, but she said nothing.
At dinner than night, the grandmother said, “Tara, let’s wash the dishes together.”
But Tara replied, “Oh Grandma! Jamie told me he wanted to help out with the dishes tonight.” Then Tara leaned over and whispered to Jamie, “Remember the duck?”

Jamie breathed a deep sigh…and washed dishes that evening.

The next morning, the grandfather called out, “Jamie! Tara! Want to go fishing with me?”

The grandmother intervened. “I need Tara to stay and help me make lunch.”

Tara just smiled and answered, “Oh Grandma! Jamie told me he wanted to help you in the kitchen today.”

Again Tara leaned over and whispered to Jamie, “Remember the duck?”

So, Tara went fishing with the grandfather while Jamie stayed behind to help the grandmother prepare the mid-day meal.

For two whole days, Jamie did both his chores and Tara’s chores. By the third day, Jamie could stand it no longer.

Mid-morning, Jamie approached his grandmother as she sat in her rocking chair in the parlor and knitted a scarf.

With tears in his eyes, Jamie blurted, “Oh Grandma, I’m sorry. Three days ago, I killed your duck. I killed it with a rock in my slingshot.”

His grandmother put down her knitting. She reached over and hugged Jamie. “Sweetheart, I know. I was standing at the kitchen window and saw all that happened. I forgive you. I just wondered how long you would let Tara make a slave out of you.”

*****

Whether we identify with the character of Jamie or of Tara or of the grandmother in this story, one

truth is universal: Forgiveness is a journey…which often takes more than three days to travel.

Whether we seek to forgive or seek to be forgiven, the journey of forgiveness requires deliberate and intentional steps…before we are freed of the un-forgiven act that holds us as a slave.

Throughout the five Sundays in March (March 2, 9, 16, 23 and 30), you are invited to join your church family in A Journey Called Forgiveness. Each Sunday morning, at 10 a.m. in Miller Chapel, I will preach on different steps in the journey toward forgiveness. Then, each subsequent Tuesday evening (March 4, March 11, March 18, March 25 and April 1), you are invited to gather at 6:30 p.m. in the East Room for a five-week Workshop in Forgiveness. The five sessions on Tuesday evenings will explore further the issues presented in the Sunday morning sermons.

While I prepare to lead and engage in A Journey Named Forgiveness, please know that I remain…

Beside you in the journey of faith,
Rev. Barbara