Then Peter came up to Jesus and asked, "Lord, how many times shall I forgive my brother or sister who sins against me? Up to seven times?"
Jesus answered, "I tell you, not seven times, but seventy-seven times."
There comes a loud knock on our front door. It is about 7:45 in the evening, and we are expecting no one. Startled, my husband, Danny, hustles for the door and peers through the peep hole.
It's Frankie. We haven't seen him in over a year. And with good reason.
Frankie has been a loyal and close friend to Danny's sons, Giovanni and Nicco; so close, in fact, that he is included on one of our family's vacations to the mountains. We have wonderful memories of including Frankie on this trip as he is nothing but kind, polite and gracious. And since that time, we invite him to enjoy many a meal with us, and rejoice that he is holding down a steady and productive job. He seems to be growing up in a way that would make any parent proud.
But something happens. Something none of us could ever had imagined.
Frankie finds heroin.
And he is charmed. Claimed. Maimed.
Stealing for his habit. Losing his job. His girlfriend. Forfeiting the trust friends once placed in him.
Danny and I are included on that loss-of-trust list.
We pray for Frankie, but warn Giovanni not to allow him back into our house unless he's found help. Because we all know the devilish havoc drug addiction can play in the minds of otherwise reasonable and caring people.
Danny, upon seeing Frankie's earnest expression and clear gaze through the peep hole, decides to open the door and welcome him in.
He makes the right call.
Once the three of us are together, Frankie begins, "I know I've let y'all down. I'm here to tell you my story and to ask you for forgiveness for the mistakes I've made in my life. Spending time in jail and in rehab have been the best things that could ever have happened for me. I've been clean for six months, and man, have I matured! I have a good job, a place to live, and I'm trying to reconnect with the people I know cared about me. You always welcomed me in, and that vacation you took me on? One of my favorite memories! I just hope you can find it in your hearts to forgive me and give me a second chance."
Without a moment's hesitation, Danny and I embrace Frankie and assure him we are on his side, supporting him completely in this next phase of his improved and improving life.
And we forgive him.
Frankie is visibly relieved. He then ventures to share that he is searching spiritually, not sure about God, but not willing to dismiss the concept. We don't judge. We both remember those days in our own lives, and simply offer to be there for any questions or doubts he might incur. Frankie hugs us again.
He makes us a promise to call when those questions and doubts arise.
And I think we have a man of God in the making.
When has giving/receiving forgiveness made all the difference in your life?
Prayer: Father, there are so many doubters who want to be believers, so many fallen who wish to be made whole. Please help us to love them into Your everlasting kingdom. Let us accept and offer forgiveness gracefully, that all may be healed in Your name. It is in Jesus' name, we pray. Amen.