My 82 year-old friend had saved his meagre earnings in order to travel to Israel. He had made the trip before, with a tour, but this time he planned to go by himself. He was excited when he arrived at Ben Gurion International Airport, and once he cleared immigration, he hailed a taxi to drive him to his hotel. As he breathed the Israeli air, he relaxed. He had finally arrived at his destination, and he was in for a fantastic experience!
He was just starting to list off in his mind the places he planned to visit when the taxi stopped in front of his hotel. He got out and paid his fair, but as soon as the driver received his money, he took off, tires squealing in his haste to be away.
“Wait! Wait!” Shouted my friend. “You forgot to give me my luggage!”
But the driver was gone. Not only did he have my friend’s luggage, but his passport and all of his money as well!
“Maybe he will come back once he notices his mistake,” he hoped aloud, but the cab driver didn’t return. Ever.
With nothing but shattered dreams, my friend had no choice but to return to North America, a bit earlier than expected.
Now if that taxi driver had made the effort to reflect on what he had done, he might have regretted his actions. He might even have begun to worry about what my friend might be thinking of him: A criminal, a low-life scoundrel who would take advantage of the elderly… And if he were to reflect a bit further, he might have even started thinking about what his God might be thinking of him. And if he were to be perfectly honest with himself, nothing complimentary would come to mind. It was indeed a depraved thing he had done. There’s no way anyone could forgive his actions. Not that elderly man, and especially not his God. Despair might have started to fill his soul: “I can’t be forgiven!”
There are so many I have encountered who are desperate to be forgiven. Regret fills their souls and they can’t fathom that anyone-especially not God-could forgive them for what they have done in the past. Regret clearly shows us what matters to us the most. Regret fills us with despair, as regret can’t be rectified.
On the other side of the world, my old friend chuckled when he told me of his adventures in Jerusalem. “I’ve forgiven that cabdriver,” he said. “I sure hope he reads the Bible I left in my suitcase!”
The cabdriver was forgiven, but he doesn’t even know it!
But what about God? Has God forgiven Him?
“One of the criminals who hung there hurled insults at him: ‘Aren’t you the Christ? Save yourself and us!’ But the other criminal rebuked him. ‘Don’t you fear God,’ he said, ‘since you are under the same sentence? We are punished justly, for we are getting what our deeds deserve. But this man has done nothing wrong.’ Then he said, ‘Jesus, remember me when you come into your kingdom.’ Jesus answered him, ‘I tell you the truth, today you will be with me in paradise.'” (Luke 23:39-43 NIV)
No matter how horrible our sins may seem to us, God is ever willing to forgive a repentant heart. But who should be surprised? After all, He loves us dearly!
“For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life.” (John 3:16 NIV)
I wonder if I should take a taxi? Maybe I should keep my luggage on my lap!
(To access the entire “Forgiven” devotional series, please click here.)