I was sitting in my car at a stop light. Pulling up to the light in heavy traffic I saw out of the corner of my eye an SUV pulling into a driveway on the other side of the street. Frantically it was going back and forth trying to get traction without success. With the conditions as they were I could tell that the SUV was accelerating much too fast for the conditions. It was an awful day out. All of the other schools were closed that day but our University remained open. Although it took me twice as long to get to work I had made it. Now I was on my way home and the conditions were icy and treacherous. Because the conditions were so bad everyone was driving extremely slow. This caused the traffic to crawl and jam as I slowly pulled up to the light. The SUV on my side was still trying to turn itself around and the driver was getting frustrated. It was then that I saw the SUV backing up directly at me. Suddenly I realized it was dangerously close and I pressed on my horn but it didn’t do any good. There was a crashing sound and I knew I had been hit. I struggled out of the car against the elements. The lady got out of her SUV and met me where the damage was. Strangely though when I tried to locate the damage that she had caused I couldn’t find it. The traffic was bumper to bumper and the light had turned and people were ready to go. The lady was anxious for me to let the incident go since no damage apparently was caused. Instead of exchanging insurance policies and calling the police I decided that miraculously my car had not been damaged and called off the search. When I got home a few minutes later I inspected the side of my car once again and discovered a huge dent by the fuel tank. Apparently since she was driving an SUV her bumper hit me much higher than where I was looking. I became upset with her for driving so recklessly in awful conditions. I was also upset with myself for not discovering the damages and letting her go without consequences. Most of all I was upset that my car was damaged.
That incident happened a couple of winters ago and the car has been very driveable. However every time that I filled up the gas tank I would see that dent and became upset with that lady. It was because of her that the dent was there and seeing it constantly reminded me of that day and her hurry for me to set her free. Although I wanted to get the car fixed I couldn’t justify spending hundreds to restore an old car. One day a few months ago my son came over for lunch. He was parked properly on the other side at the foot of our driveway. As I was leaving to come back to work I was in a hurry and forgot he was back there. When I turned my wheel to enter our street I heard a clunk. My front side had bashed into his car. Feeling sick to my stomach I got out to assess the damages. Fortunately there were no damages to his car but mine had a big dent in the front. It was then I decided that I was going to have the car restored.
It was like that old joke about the guy who dropped fifty cents in the toilet. His friend noticed that he was purposely dropping quarters into the same toilet. “What are you doing?” the friend questioned. It seems the man had debated if it was worth it putting his hand in there for fifty cents. He explained to his friend “for fifty cents no, but for two dollars yes!” Now that I had two unsightly dents in the car I was ready to invest. However, I wanted someone to work with me. I called several body shops and explained my situation on their answering machines. Finally I got someone on the line with my last call. “I have an older car”, I explained “and I need someone to work with me.” “Instead of all new replacement parts I was hoping you could pull the dents out.” “I’m not carrying collision insurance on the car and it is all out of pocket.” Surprisingly he was very cooperative and had me bring the car right over. His workload wasn’t very heavy and for that I was extremely grateful!
In the Bible there are stories about restoration. These are not car restorations however. They are restorations of relationships. A couple come to mind. One which we all have heard is about the prodigal son who took all of his inheritance and blew it on wild living. His father was quick to forgive and forget when the son humbly made his trip back home. Another one was the relationship that Jesus had with Peter his disciple. Peter was admonished by Jesus because he was always saying things that came to his mind without thought. When Jesus told his disciples that he was going to the cross Peter took him aside. “Never Lord, This will never happen to you.” In Matthew 16:23 it states that Jesus turned to Peter and said “Get behind me, Satan! You are a stumbling block to me; you do not have in mind the concerns of God, but merely human concerns.” As Jesus was going to the cross Peter was questioned three times about their relationship. Each time he denied knowing him. The third time he reacted violently swearing loudly and claiming “I do not even know the man.” In Matthew 26:33 Peter said “though all men will be offended because of thee, yet will I never be offended.” In verse 34 Jesus answers him saying “that this night before the cock crows you will deny me thrice.” After Peter’s third denial the rooster crowed fulfilling the prophesy.
After Jesus was crucified Peter had given up the cause. Jesus has died and it is all over for us was his thinking. He encouraged the other disciples to go back to where it began and what they made a living doing. They went back to being fishermen and were on a boat with their nets in the water. Through the whole night they caught nothing and were very discouraged. Suddenly they saw a man on the shore and he called out “cast your nets on the other side.” Reluctantly they did and the net gathered so many fish that it broke. Realizing the miracle they also realized that the man was Jesus and they were ecstatic. Jesus didn’t lecture them about what they were doing out there or why they had given up. He was willing to restore the relationship despite their lack of faith. Peter especially was grateful because much like how the disciples mended their fishing net Jesus had mended his relationship with him!
Slowly the figures were added. As I sat in the office the calculator was working away. I’m sure that with each cost the owner was remembering my words and discounting each item. At the end I was amazed at how little the cost was. Having received estimates for the original dent I knew what the ball park figure was. Yet he was offering to do the job for two dents at less than the others did for one! He had mercy on my situation much like how God has mercy on our lives.
Perhaps you have an old friend that you don’t talk to anymore. Maybe something happened that broke your trust. Maybe there is hurt whenever you see them or think about what they did. This is not how God wants us to be. He wants to restore our friendships. In order to do this be the one who makes the first move. Be the one who asks for forgiveness. You will be surprised how the ice will melt and how you will begin to feel happy again. Happy that there are no grudges only love. Happy that you have put hate behind you and grateful that God has restored your joy!
When I’m fueling up my car now I don’t see the dent anymore. I don’t even think about that lady or feel the anger that I felt. I only see the car all repaired and looking great. Usually I forget that it was ever damaged. That is how God see’s us when we ask for forgiveness. He forgets all of our past sins. He restores our relationship with him much like my car was restored.