I’ve always thought Jeeps are the coolest cars ever made. They’re tough and fun, and I especially like the ones that don’t have a roof. I used to have a bright red Jeep, and it ended up helping me learn a very important lesson.
A few years ago, I was driving home from church. Out of nowhere, another car drove toward me from a side street and crashed into the driver’s side of my Jeep. Before I knew what had happened, my car flipped over, and I went flying right out of the roof! I knew that I was always supposed to wear my seatbelt, but this time I had forgotten. That was a really big mistake.
I landed in a sitting position on the asphalt, facing my wrecked car. Pieces of the Jeep were scattered everywhere—in the street, on a lawn, and even lodged in a nearby fence. It was a mess! I checked to see if I was okay.
Do I have all my arms and legs? Check.
Fingers and toes? Check.
Slowly, I stood up and realized that I felt just fine. I walked over to the car that had just hit me. The stunned driver was sitting behind her steering wheel, holding on for dear life, eyes staring forward. Her knuckles were white.
I popped my head in her window. “Hi! I’m Bob. What’s your name?”
The driver was at least ninety years old, small, fragile, and scared. It took her a moment to respond. “I . . . I’m Lynn,” she stuttered.
“Lynn, are you okay?” I asked.
“I . . . think so,” she said. Suddenly, tears came to her eyes.
“I’m so sorry . . . Did you know you flew out of your roof?!”
“Oh, Lynn,” I said, matching her serious tone but with a smile in my voice. “I can’t lie. That was a pretty big surprise, but luckily I’m okay. So really, no worries at all. Everything’s great!”
Lynn still felt terrible, but of course I forgave her on the spot. It really had been an amazing ride.
A few days later, I received a phone call. It was Lynn. “I’m so sorry, Bob,” she said in a tearful voice.
“Oh, Lynn,” I said, “really, don’t worry about it. You are totally forgiven. I’m great! Not even a bruise. No need to call again.”
The funny thing is, she didn’t stop calling. Over the next few days, I got daily phone calls from Lynn. Each time, she would apologize, and I would remind her that everything was okay. For some reason, she just didn’t believe me when I said that she was forgiven.
Jesus talked a lot about forgiving people. Do you know how many times Jesus wants you to forgive someone who has done something wrong to you? Think of the biggest number you can imagine and add a couple more zeros at the end, and then maybe you’d be close to the number of times you need to forgive someone. Jesus wants us to always forgive others.
But maybe you know what it feels like to be Lynn, and you feel awful for making a mistake. Maybe you don’t believe people when they say you’re forgiven. Sometimes we need to see that we are forgiven, instead of only hearing the words.
So I hatched a plan. On the fifth day Lynn called to tell me she was sorry, I called up a florist and ordered a huge bouquet of flowers. I included a card that said, “Dear Lynn, it was nice running into you the other day. You don’t need to call anymore! Love, Bob.”
Love and forgiveness carry the most weight when they are done, rather than simply said. That’s why it was so important that Jesus came. God didn’t just tell us we were forgiven; He sent Jesus to be with us and show us that we are forgiven.
I’ve seen Lynn a few times since the accident. It took a while, but I think she really believes she’s forgiven. I think God’s hoping we’ll feel the same way.