Author Martha Bolton told an interesting story about her father. Later in his life, he had suffered a series of minor heart attacks. Bolton went on to tell, “During one of his many hospital stays, it became necessary to transport him to another facility for rehabilitation therapy. The driver who was assigned to pick him up from the hospital arrived on schedule and carefully wheeled Dad up the ramp and into his medical van, making certain to secure the rear door. What he forgot to secure was my father’s wheelchair. Thus, at every stop sign, red light, crossing guard and railroad track, this conscientious driver would come to a full and complete stop. My father, however, would not. His wheelchair would roll unobstructed all the way to the front of the van. Then, just as Dad would start to knock on the divider behind the front seat, the driver would press down the gas pedal, sending my father rolling back again.
“This Bumper Wheelchair Ride continued throughout the entire trip. Unbeknownst to the driver, my father would roll up, my father would roll back. Roll up. Roll back. For every mile that van traveled, my dad was traveling three. By the time they arrived at their destination, Dad was panting as though he had just run a 10-K in Phoenix in 110-degree heat! He was sweating, his hair was in his face, his clothing was askew, and he was hoarse from all the calling out he had done trying to get the driver’s attention. Needless to say, when the driver parked, walked to the back of the van and opened the rear door, my father was ready for him. By not securing the wheelchair, this guy had messed up and messed up royally. This was supposed to have been a medical transport, not the Indy 500! An irresponsible act such as that could have cost him his job. Some would say it should have cost him his job. But Dad merely looked the driver in the eye (when the world stopped spinning, that is) and laughed, saying, ‘That was better than a ride at Disneyland!’ (“When The Going Gets Tough, The Tough Start Laughing” by Martha Bolton).
Newsflash, we all make mistakes. Some are bad, some aren’t. However, it would do us all a lot of good to simply give each other a break. Give the benefit of the doubt. Laugh it off. Give mercy instead of punishment. Give grace instead of a harsh lecture. And intertwined through it all, forgiveness. In the end, God will forgive us if we forgive each other (Matthew 6:14-15).
I’m not saying give everyone a free pass all the time. I’m not saying we turn a blind eye to sin. But perhaps we are too critical and confrontational. When the situation is appropriate, let’s give each other a break. Ephesians 4:32 captures this idea best of all as we conclude, “Be kind to one another, tender-hearted, forgiving each other, just as God in Christ also has forgiven you.”