Be kind to one another, tenderhearted, forgiving one another, as God in Christ forgave you. Ephesians 4:32
Many thanks to some of the members of the adult Bible class at Messiah Lutheran Church in Mounds View, Minnesota, for sharing this story. It is appreciated.
Sally Packard used to drive a 1989 Dodge.
Every day Packard drove her Dodge to mass at St. Peter's Catholic Church in Richfield, Minnesota. Three times a week she drove it to see her doctor. She used to drive a Dodge, but she doesn't drive it anymore. It was stolen and by the time it was recovered the vehicle had been totaled.
The 17-year-old boy who took her Dodge was eventually caught and tried. Sally Packard was able to speak to the young thief, who had thrown a monkey wrench into her life.
Now, before I go any further, let me ask, what would you have said to that teenager? Seriously, what would you have said?
I can summarize what Packard said. She started with a quotation: "When we forgive, we don't deny the hurt that we have received. We don't deny that it was wrong, but we acknowledge that there is more to the offender than the offense."
After that Packard spoke of how, along with her car, she had lost her driver's license, some religious books, and a rosary her mother had given her many years before. Then Packard, foster mother of more than 50 kids, told the lad she was praying for him. She shared how she was asking the Lord to redirect and rehabilitate him. She assured, "A good life awaits you ... if you will just choose a new path."
The second last thing Packard did was ask the judge if she could give the lad two stones. Permission was granted. One stone said, "Hope." The other said, "A special prayer for you."
The boy began to cry ... as did the judge ... and the attorneys ... and the folks gathered there that day. And then came the last thing Sally Packard did; she hugged the lad who had stolen her Dodge.
So, is that what you would have done if you had been Sally Packard?
I know it's not what I would have done or said. I would have given that kid a piece of my mind. That's what I would have done, before Sally Packard showed me a better way.
It shouldn't have been necessary. My Lord Jesus showed me the way of forgiveness 20 centuries ago. He showed it to me and to Packard when He forgave all the sinful things we had ever done. I guess Sally Packard is just a faster learner than I am.
But now that I've relearned it, I'll try not to forget. And I hope you won't either.
THE PRAYER: Dear Lord Jesus, You came into this world and gave Your life for me, a poor, miserable sinner. May I rejoice in the forgiveness I have been given and may I reflect it to others. This I ask in Jesus' Name. Amen.
In Christ I remain His servant and yours,
Pastor Ken Klaus
Speaker emeritus of The Lutheran Hour®
Lutheran Hour Ministries