Saturday, October 16, 2010
The other day I told my twins a story from my youth. It's the story of a young man named George and a life lesson he taught me. They've asked me several questions since then, and I realized that you might like to hear about him too.
I first met George when I was about 14 years old. He was only a few years older than I was and he was in my youth group at church. He was also both mentally and physically handicapped. He couldn't read or write, nor could he speak very clearly. When I knew him, he was still able to walk everywhere, but his mother told me that he would one day be wheelchair bound.
Our youth group consisted of about 50 kids, and everyone of them loved George, but I believe this is because he loved each of us first. George loved everyone.
One Sunday we arrived at church to find George black and blue, swollen and cut, with his arm in a sling. He truly looked awful. We were all shocked to find out that 3 unknown bullies had jumped him and beat him up a few days earlier, just because that's what bullies sometimes do to people like George. Of course, we were all furious.
Several of the boys in our youth group, all muscular football players on a local team, said, "Show us who they are George, we'll get them."
We might not have said it, but I think we all felt the same way. Someone had hurt "our" George. We wanted to get even.
George took it all in.
We always started our youth service with singing and then we had prayer requests, and every week George would raise his hand with the same request. He always asked for prayer for his mother and his sister.
This week was the same. As always, George raised his hand. And, as always, our leader called on him and let him ask. Only this time, George had a different request.
"I'd like to ask for prayer for the boys who beat me up. You see, I don't think they know Jesus...and I want them to know His love," he stuttered.
You could've heard a pin drop. I still get choked up when I think about it. Tears welled up in many eyes. There wasn't anything showy or prideful about George's request. It was genuine, straight from his heart. He had no idea that there was a collective sigh of guilt in the rest of us as we all realized the purity of his forgiveness in comparison to the lack of our own.
Our first and only thought had been revenge. We are all too often a "get even" people. George couldn't understand this, but he knew the best way to stop the bullying was to get to the heart of the bully.
To change their heart. Why hadn't we thought of that? Because he had forgiven them, and we hadn't. I think he forgave them even as they were beating him up. He understood forgiveness better than any of us ever did. He taught us all an important lesson that day.
I grew up, moved away and lost touch with George, but after telling my twins the story, I made a few phone calls and found out that his mom passed away and he is living with his sister in another state. I don't know if he'd even remember me, but I wish I had a photo of him to show to you, with his shock of black curly hair (probably gray now) and his crooked smile. He was always smiling. Joy radiated from him. Now that I'm thinking about it, maybe if you just imagine a special angel, you'll be able to imagine "our" George :-)
God sometimes brings special people into our lives to teach us His truths. I've never forgotten this and other life lessons I learned....by George :-)
Have a glorious Sunday!
Be kind to one another, tenderhearted, forgiving one another, as God in Christ forgave you.