Little White Lie (click to comment)

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When I was 10, Miss Ida Weissmuller arrived to teach my fifth grade class. With a thick German accent and a bun done up in her hair too tight to allow any smiling, I didn’t like her. Then one fateful afternoon she stood up and said, “Put your books away, class. It is time for our Bible memory test.” The words struck horror into my heart. I had been too busy playing baseball to memorize Scripture. And so, I slid some verse cards from my desk, lodged between my legs and began to cheat on my Bible verses.

This is what I wrote: “My little children, these things write I unto you that ye sin not. And if any man sin we have an advocate with the Father, Jesus Christ the righteous: And he is the propitiation for our sins: and not for ours only, but also for the sins of the whole world.” – 1 John 1:1-2. I couldn’t sleep that night. I drifted fitfully in and out of a dream which haunts me to this day:

The punishment was administered in the schoolyard. Attended by the school children, Ms. Wiesmuller and the local ministers. After a scaling denunciation by my teacher, the children filed by me in a solemn procession. Each was handed a stick which they tossed around the swingset leg to which I was tied. The ministers tossed matches on the sticks. Emotionless, Miss Weissmuller fans the flames with my report card.

My tiny tombstone is erected at the local cemetery:

THE UNKNOWN STUDENT

1961-1971

For habits he would not break

He was ceremoniously burned at the stake

His sins are too many to list

He certainly will not be missed.

May we rest in peace.

The next morning I crept into the school building and confessed. To my shock, my surly teacher cracked a winning smile and forgave me. From that day onward, I didn’t cheat on another test. And I think I know why. You see, way back in fifth grade a teacher who had every reason to pronounce judgment offered me grace. Sound like someone else you’ve heard of? Romans 5:8 tells us this: “But God demonstrates his own love for us in this: While we were still sinners, Christ died for us.”

Are you a grace giver today? Have you taken the immeasurable gift that God has offered you and spent it on others. Give it a try. Loosen that bun in your hair, smile and offer someone the gift that Ms. Wiesmuller offered me.

And feel free to share your stories with us. Have you been forgiven by someone? Go ahead and tell us about them.

Phil Callaway

Phil Callaway, the host of Laugh Again, is an award-winning author and speaker, known worldwide for his humorous yet perceptive look at life.

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