Thursday, October 9, 2008

Now he could relax

"About fifteen years ago I was sitting at the dining room table looking out the window and watching five boys fooling around with a BB-gun and wondering a little to myself how long it would be before one of them shot another in the eye. Finally one of them grabbed the gun to shoot at a little sparrow sitting on a tree just outside the dining room window through which I had been watching this whole performance. I could see the whole action unfolding before my eyes; it seemed almost slow-motion, uncanny, inevitable. The boy aimed deliberately at the bird, shot at the bird, missed the bird and put a hole in the window right in front of me, and away they all ran with me racing out of the house after them. I didn't catch any of them!

In a few days I had found out that a boy named Dave White had pulled the trigger. Also in a few days I had the window fixed and paid for. Then I began to think about Dave. He was evading me at every turn. He would not face me and he had no notion of confessing. In the meantime the other boys had floated back to games in the vacant lot and in the street in front of the house, while Dave, the guilty one, was on the outside of all this, 'weeping and gnashing his teeth.' He would have none of us. So I went after him, not to punish him but to save him. He had to face me in judgment, then in grace; only thus could we renew our fellowship, only thus could I bring him back to the gang.

I caught him alone. Now we stood face to face to have it out. The boy was rebellious, tense, tight, ready to fight me, ready to run away again. He admitted he had wronged me but I gave him the surprising message that the window had been paid for, that I had no notion of collecting anything from him, that what really interested me was to know how we could get him to come back to be one of the gang again. . . . I told him over and over again the same old story: the price has been paid, it's all over; let's be friends. What a time I had getting that message through to him. Why? Because he didn't believe me. There is always an unbelievable quality in the wonder of what we call grace. But I wish you could have seen him when he finally did believe me. What a wonderful look, what a release of tensions, what a rolling away of the burdens, what a newness of life. Now he could quit running. Now he could relax. Talk about peace of mind; you should have seen that boy. What total commitment he offered me henceforth, and by no request of mine! There was nothing he wouldn't do for me."

Addison H. Leitch, Interpreting Basic Theology, pages 113-114.