Some of you know this story well. You lived it too. But others may be surprised to know that when I was fifteen years old I stole a car. Actually I think the legal term for it is joyriding. I had no intention of keeping the car, and such intention is a necessary component for theft. But the proper definition has long been ignored in my family. For decades the story of Kristie stealing a car has been retold.
Melissa is one of my oldest and dearest friends, and one Saturday night in 1987, we were hanging out at her house. Her parents were out for the night, and we were talking about a boy we had decided we no longer liked. I cannot explain the lack of logic. I cannot explain the utter stupidity of it. But I had the bright idea of grabbing a couple of eggs and driving over to his house. Melissa needed convincing. I told her that it'd be fun. I may not have had a license but I was a good driver. Finally, we grabbed a couple of eggs and got in the car.
Everything was going swimmingly as we exited her neighborhood. But then we came to a four-way stop, and wonder of wonders, a police car pulled up across from us. His presence caused me to stammer, to utterly panic. We had been intending to turn left, but now I thought maybe we should turn right. I flipped the turn signal up and down and then up again, and well, it was pretty suspicious-looking. And then when I did finally turn right I doubt it was my turn. So we made it about a quarter of a mile from her house before we were pulled over. And I won't go into the harrowing details of sitting in that caged police car, maybe another time, but it was not fun. Melissa was practically hyperventilating. And I could write a whole other post about being dropped off by the police at my sister's house. My parents were out of town that weekend, and yet another blog could be written about finally telling my mom, and how I had to have my brother Craig by my side for the bravery to do it.
So the car was hauled away and my dad wrote her dad a check for the impounding. It was humiliating. I never wanted to see her family again. I was too ashamed. But after about two weeks, which seemed an eternity, her dad called me on the phone. It was a Sunday afternoon in early December.
"Kristie, Honey," he said, "We want you to go to the mall with us. We miss you."
"Okay," I answered, voice quivering.
A half hour later, their family of five picked me up. I piled in, feeling something like a sewer rat.
There must have been some exchange involving, "I'm sorry," but I don't remember that. What I do remember is laughing until my face hurt. At every intersection all the way to the mall, her dad did a Kristie, flipping the turn signal up and down and then up, acting like a panicked goof.
What a picture of forgiveness!
Jesus said, she who has been forgiven much loves much. (Luke 7:47). And I love that family. Oh, how I love them. They were always, always so good to me. I vacationed with them, and I even lived with them while our new house was being built. But nothing made more of an impression on me than their willingness to forgive me.
There are many lessons imbedded in this story. But I'm only going to highlight two. The first is that we should have that same kind of heartsick love for God. The more we become aware of our own sinfulness and shortcomings the more we should feel overcome with love and gratitude. He has forgiven it all, the big hairy sins and the little things too, all through the sacrifice of His Son.
The second lesson is that if we want people to love us, and every person has a desperate need for love, maybe we should think hard about being more forgiving.
Through the power of the Holy Spirit, let us forgive this week as we have been forgiven!