Last week I attended a devotional. One of the speakers shared this story from her personal circle of experience.
A Scoutmaster named Spark took his troop snowcaving—building a snow cave and camping in it. They had a wonderful time and all the boys returned home little worse for the wear.
But one of the Scout’s mothers was outraged. She stormed over to the Brother Spark’s home and demanded an explanation of how the he could expose her son to the dangers of the elements, putting her boy’s life in danger.
The Scoutmaster did his best to explain why he chose the activity, but the mother would have nothing of it. She told the bishopric that the man should be released from Scouting and excommunicated from the Church. Of course, the bishop didn’t proceed on that recommendation. The woman would not talk to the Scoutmaster for many years.
Several years down the road, however, the woman’s son entered military service and was on maneuvers in Korea. He had to camp in the snow. He wrote home to tell his mother how grateful he was for his experience in Scouting and how snowcaving as a boy had helped him survive the snow in Korea. He said that while other soldiers were suffering from frostbite and exposure, what he had learned in Scouting had saved him from a lot of suffering. He told his mother that she owed Brother Spark an apology.
Letter in hand, the woman walked over to Brother Spark’s home and asked his forgiveness. Of course he granted it (or already had) and the years of a strained relationship were healed.
When we judge and condemn another, when we withhold our forgiveness, we give the enemy of our souls power over us. He uses ignorance to drive a wedge between people. Whenever we get angry, we can count on the fact that we are missing information and that the father of lies will take advantage of that gap to create contention and anger and misery.
Forgiveness it seems is more of a blessing to the offended than to the offender. It is not in our power to right all wrongs because we cannot control (nor would we want to control) the agency of others. But if we let go of our pride, in spite of what anyone else has done or not done, we can possess our souls in patience (Luke 21:19) instead of letting a dark spirit possess them.
Forgiveness is faith in action. It requires great trust in the Lord and great patience. Forgiveness opens the door to the prison of our mind and sets us free.