Sometimes bad decisions make great stories. While writing a book called When You Need a Good Laugh, I had a small accident. There was nothing funny about it. And come to think of it, it was a large accident. In fact, the doctor told me I had no business surviving, that my family should be planning a funeral and that the back of my head kind of looked like a cantaloupe. My friend Larry and I had been revving our way through the Rockies on an ATV unit—something that outweighs humans 10 to one. While easing our way down a steep embankment, Larry got confused, squeezed the front brake, and we flipped the thing. Everything hurt. My ribs were torn up so badly that a sneeze registered three points beyond giving birth! One week later when the buzzing sound left me, I was grateful to be alive. But as I reflected on Larry’s driving skills, bitterness began to eat at me.
On a Sunday, Larry called. Would I forgive him? Of course not, I thought. After all, there are benefits to holding onto anger and resentment. Insomnia and sore toes from kicking immovable objects. Plus I wanted the poor guy to sweat a bit. Larry said it again. “I’m so sorry. Please forgive me.” Perhaps it was the pain medication, but these were the words that poured out: “Hey, I’ve done so many dumb things too and people keep forgiving me. So yes. Absolutely. I forgive you.” Something shifted deep inside. It was like a load slid from my shoulders and I did something I hadn’t done in a week. I started to laugh. Which wasn’t funny. It killed my ribs!
Life offers each of us plenty of opportunity to court bitterness. But soon you hear the sucking sound of laughter draining from your life. There’s a cure for this joy sucker. Here it is. It’s from Ephesians 4:31-32: “Get rid of all bitterness, rage, anger, harsh words, and slander… Instead, be kind to each other, tender-hearted, forgiving one another, just as God through Christ has forgiven you.” Do you need to give up bitterness today? It will clamp you in irons, cement your frown and contradict the behaviour God showed you.
I’m not eager to climb onto another ATV anytime soon, but when I do, I’ll likely go with my friend Larry. I think he’ll be more careful next time.
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