It was my turn to lead childcare for our undercover church in Afghanistan. The four children got along well as we sang, acted out a story and played games on the roof of the three-story home where we met. The morning flew by, so I cleaned up the supplies and readied the children to go down and meet their parents.
Opening the door from the roof to an interior winding staircase, I realized the oversized first step was going to be a challenge for the two toddlers. Even more dangerous was the railing, only two feet high and supported by spindles spaced more than a span apart. With a tiny child firmly attached to each hand, I negotiated that dangerous step as one of the older siblings ran by…then slipped. Instinctively, I reached out to steady her, releasing my grip. The child whose hand I had abandoned toppled forward and tumbled through the railing, falling head first to land in the middle of the spiral, two floors below. Peering over the edge at her motionless body, I wailed an agonizing plea….”Jesus!”
As we rushed down the stairs, the adults ran in from the meeting room. By the time I reached the bottom, the father was already praying over the child’s motionless form. Guilt and grief flooded my being as I watch her body, waiting for a breath or cry. Nothing.
The child’s mother approached me before she even approached her child. She grabbed my shoulders and compelled me to look at her. Reluctantly, I made eye contact. Her words surprised me. “Donna, whatever happens, I forgive you.” As she stepped away to join her husband in prayer, gratitude cloaked me like a comforter. I could not believe the forgiveness she offered me! Crumpling to the floor, humbled by her love, I understood grace like never before.
Minutes later, a breath and a cry brought a shout of joy from the whole group! Her parents carefully inspected every inch of her body, but there was not a scratch. And the next day, not a bruise was found. But one thing remained: the power of forgiveness offered before I even asked, the heart of our Father demonstrated by his children as they offered grace and prayer and care.
May we be, as this sweet mother was, “transformed into his image with ever-increasing glory, which comes from the Lord, who is the Spirit.” II Cor. 3:18
This story is confronting! Personally, I don’t know how I would respond in the way that mother did. But, I’d love to become more like her -to become more like Jesus- who is unconditionally loving and gracious. This grace is not to dismiss mistakes or hurts, but recognising that the power of love, grace and forgiveness transforms, brings healing, and counters the darkness by bringing light.
I am challenged today to respond to fear and hurt with forgiveness and grace even when it may seem undeserved. Jesus models this to us, so did this woman and you can to others! That love transforms people- it’s so powerful! Hurts are inevitable, but light will always win over darkness!