In her book “The Liar’s Club” Mary Carr writes about a Texas man who remained married to his wife but did not speak to her for forty years after a fight over the amount of money she spent on sugar. It sounds ridiculous, but often we struggle to forgive people for what they have said or not said, have done or failed to do. Often it’s about such trivial or petty things that we make our lives and those of others a misery, sometimes for a very long time.
In 1995 Heidi Baker (see photo) and her husband, Rolland, started a ministry to the homeless children in Mozambique. Heidi remembers a girl, Helena, only 10 years old, who suffered terrible pain. Helena lost one of her legs when their home burned down. Her grandmother was a witch-doctor and she told her two elder brothers to go and stone Helena to death, because, she said: ‘She is of no use to us.’ They took her into the veld and threw stones at her head. They thought they had killed her, but they hadn’t. Someone passed by, saw her, and took her to a place where her wounds were attended to.
After Helena’s wounds had healed, she had to look after herself. She had no choice but to sell her body for a bread. Heidi heard about her, and they took her into their home. One day Heidi couldn’t believe what she had heard. Helena had said: ‘Mamma, I want to go home.’ Heidi was very upset and said: ‘No, no! Under no circumstances. Not to such a family who wanted to kill you by throwing stones at your head.’ Helena then replied: ‘What do you mean? You say Jesus forgives. You said Jesus loves people. You told me what love looks like. How can I not go home and tell my family about Jesus? How can I not go home and tell them about love?’ See https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=fam2vZDka90.
Heidi says that a 10-year-old girl showed her what love is, what love and grace look like. Helena had experienced something of the love and forgiveness of Jesus. Jesus was nailed to a cross for us. Insults were flung at Him like stones. In effect it was said of Jesus: “He is of no use to us. He is just a burden, someone who makes life difficult for us.” But, thank God, Jesus is everything to us: God showed his love for us by sending his only Son into the world, so that we might have life through him. This is what love is: it is not that we have loved God, but that he loved us and sent his Son to be the means by which our sins are forgiven. Dear friends, if this is how God loved us, then we should love one another (1 John 4:9 -11).
If that is what Jesus did to grant us forgiveness and to make an end to the separation between God and us, can we really find it difficult to forgive someone for something as insignificant as the purchase of sugar? Really? Perhaps we must learn from a ten-year-old girl from Mozambique. She knew what the love and grace of God look like. She understood what it means to forgive people.
Thank you Jesus, help us to understand what love and grace look like. Amen.