(Note: A downloadable PDF copy of this lesson is available on the last page.)
Do you find yourself hurt or disappointed by people’s behavior or events?
[Jesus said,] “Take heed to yourselves. If your brother sins against you, rebuke him; and if he repents, forgive him. And if he sins against you seven times in a day, and seven times in a day returns to you saying, ‘I repent,’ you shall forgive him.” And the apostles said to the Lord, “Increase our faith.”
Luke 17:3-5, NKJV
Webster defines forgive as “to grant free pardon, cease to feel resentment against.”
What are you to do when you must work together with someone who repeats undesirable behavior over and over again, often deliberately and sadistically? This was my question one summer when I was working with the North American Indian Mission along the spectacular coast of British Columbia. Each year the mission sponsored a summer program, placing college students on many of the beautiful islands scattered along the coastline. The mission would assign a team of four to eight college students to an island for a month. Their job was to make friends with the native Indian islanders, to develop a recreation program for the children and an arts and crafts program for the adults, and to encourage them to attend mission meetings and Bible studies.
The mission had a large ship which cruised up the coast from Vancouver to the southern tip of Alaska. Several seaplanes would regularly meet the ship and fly the teams of students to their assigned islands. My job was to help supervise the teams of students. With a pilot and seaplane I flew from island to island to see how the work was progressing.
I had no experience with seaplanes, but I found it a thrilling experience to take off and to land on the water. After my first landing at one of the islands, the pilot asked me to jump out on the dock and hold the rope which was tied to the pontoon of the plane. Glad to be of help, I stood rope in hand under the wing. When the pilot jumped out of the plane and onto the pontoon, the wing came down and struck me in the head. Boom! I saw stars! The pilot was apologetic,
“I’m sorry.” I replied, “That’s okay.”
I walked up to the primitive little village where a team of college students was eager to share with me all the unexpected challenges that had arisen. The little kids were hard to manage. They swore. They had lice in their hair. After advising, encouraging, and praying with the team, I returned to the plane.
I made note that these students would need frequent visits to encourage them and to remind them to depend on the Lord daily for grace, love, patience, and wisdom.
The pilot once again asked me to hold the rope while he got into the plane. I was glad to oblige. He jumped on the pontoon. The wing came down and smacked me in the head, “Whack!” Again I saw stars!
He said, “I’m so sorry.” I said, “That’s okay.”
My head was somewhat sore, but I ignored it. There was far too much excitement in taking off over the water and rugged landscape. What was a little bump on the head compared to working with such devoted students and these needy Indian children.
As we flew to the next island, I was mildly annoyed at the pilot. My head throbbed, but the beautiful scenery and the three-foot waves which met us at our next landing absorbed my attention.
The pilot asked me to hop out on the dock and hold the rope while he secured the plane. Again I was happy to oblige. Again I felt useful. I was caught off guard when the wing came down on my head: “Bang!”
The pilot said, “So sorry.” I said, “That’s okay.”