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Pleasure Dome Thunder BW

Golf Ball

The swing of the golf club sent the dimpled sphere flying toward the house instead of the wide-open garden. Fortunately, there were no windows on the ball’s trajectory, but there was his brother’s head. Screams outside quickly drew adult attention, as well as that initial fear a parent has that their child may have suffered serious injury. No critical harm done, just a large bump on Daniel’s head. Eden, the golfer, was still in the garden down below making his way up to the patio where his older brother sat on the floor.

I was relieved. It was just an accident while the boys were having fun. I looked at my injured son and knew—even though accidental—he needed to forgive his brother, who was now standing close by. There was darkness in his eyes. Behind the errant ball was a golfing iron swung by someone guilty.

Even though it was accidental, Daniel needed to forgive Eden; I asked him if he would. He agreed. I didn’t leave it at that, but pressed him to make his declaration of forgiveness, which he promptly did. I was intently watching him through all this, his statement to his brother made with his head hanging down, looking at the floor. Since I squatted in front of him, I could see his face, darkness still in his eyes, the matter unresolved. His statement had been a mere formality, not from the heart.

I asked Eden to squat down next to me, bringing their heads more level. I then asked my injured son to look his brother in the eyes and again declare his forgiveness. This time, his significant hesitation confirmed what I had detected: the first time was not true, heartfelt forgiveness. I noticed the internal struggle in Daniel’s eyes until he settled his decision.

When he spoke, he looked his brother in the eyes and forgave honestly, letting the matter go. God then quietly confirmed to me the matter was indeed settled in Daniel’s heart, and only then did I let them go.

Even though genuine accidents aren’t guided by malice, offense is in the eye of the beholder—a guilty verdict given whether the other party was responsible or not, malicious or not. Offense is held in the heart, often registering before the person even thinks about the matter. Someone was responsible for directing that ball at him; guilty of carelessness, guilty of folly, guilty of poor skill, guilty of not looking, guilty of not making the swing on a golf course, guilty of not shouting a warning beforehand—whether reasonable or unreasonable—guilty! A person’s heart is soiled, offense taken, an affront registered. An unwelcome injury sustained due to another’s action.

A third party acting as mediator mustn’t judge whether or not someone should or shouldn’t have taken offense. That an offense was taken should always be presumed and the parties ministered to and entreated until they have cleared their hearts. We must be caring and sensitive toward everyone—not harsh or apathetic. We require Godly wisdom—surpassing our meager human reason and perception—in order to discern what has actually happened behind the veil of the invisible spirit realm.

If we ignore an offense, even a small one, the incident could pass without further drama. Things may even look fine, the internal wound being buried by the sands of time, forgotten by all, including the injured party. Thinking we’re wise or strong, we move on, giving the false impression of healing and peace.

Yet, what goes unseen and unattended is the sin of unforgiveness, which grants legal right to evil spirits to adversely affect us. Invisible as they are to the human eye, they are always malevolent, hell-bent on inducing further harm. They tempt us, leaving us even guiltier before the Judge of Heaven, should we entertain those malicious thoughts. Sin before God mounts, leading to deeper offenses, transforming into bitterness, hatred, and worse. Evil’s ultimate purpose is always the widest possible destruction. Destruction of the affected person plus a ruinous ripple of the greatest circumference, affecting as many others as possible over time. Heartfelt forgiveness can prevent that ripple right after an offending stone disturbs the surface calm. But, left unchecked, many people live with multiple hurts reverberating through their souls, causing patterns of interference. In human terms, mental health deteriorates.

Although the original incident and resulting injury may have been relatively small, it is the sin of unforgiveness that gets judged by God. It’s not the fact that we were injured, or the measure thereof, or even that we took offense. It’s what we do after the incident: hold a grudge and let it fester into hatred, or graciously and mercifully forgive and keep on loving the offender.

Let’s again consider how the Lord’s Prayer stipulates that our forgiveness of wrongs against us is a crucial prerequisite by God.

After this manner therefore pray ye: Our Father who art in heaven, Hallowed be thy name. Thy kingdom come. Thy will be done on earth, as it is in heaven. Give  us this day our daily bread. And forgive us our debts, as we forgive our debtors. And lead us not into temptation, but deliver us from evil: For thine is the kingdom, and the power, and the glory, for ever. Amen. For if ye forgive men their trespasses, your heavenly Father will also forgive you : But if ye forgive not men their trespasses, neither will your Father forgive your trespasses.

Matthew 6:9-15 — Webster’s 1833 Revision