Reaching out with God's Love

A Short Story

Posted by on Jul 7, 2015 in Announcement |

“A Show of Mercy” … by Roy Irwin Gift

I was having lunch with my friend and spiritual adviser Pastor Dan at the Triple-T truck-stop-restaurant debating Charles Grandisson Finney’s mojo Evangelism when I accidentally brushed my coffee cup and spilled it into my lap. I left my friend and went into the men’s room to clean up.  I finished up with washing my hands and, thinking the faucet was an automatic one, left it on.

I went over by the door, just a few feet away to dry off, and standing next to a man who impressed me as being a truck driver from Texas.
Without looking at me, or at anyone, the Texas truck driver began to say in a lowered tone: “You’re goin’ along and goin’ along and havin’ a good day, when all of a sudden some damn fool’s too lazy to turn the water off.”

Though my mind was elsewhere at the moment, I did hear what he said, only half-listening. But, since he had mentioned water, I Iooked over the water faucets and noticed that my faucet, the one I had just abandoned, was rushing valuable desert-water down a drain hole. For at least a few moments, I continued to watch the faucet while putting things together in my head. Finally, it seemed as though the haze in my brain cleared a bit and I realized the driver was talking about me.

Let me give you a biographical snapshot of one aspect of my life.  Growing up in the South during the Great Depression I was thoroughly familiar with encounters of the fisticuff variety, a habit and practice that continued into my adult life, much to my dismay. During one stellar period of six months in 1976, when I had just quit smoking, I had nine such social engagements on the streets and in the subways and cafes of Paris.

But, on this occasion, I let the challenge pass. The truck driver left without receiving nether a glove in his face nor a kick up the backsides.  I returned to my lunch with Pastor Dan. When I told him the story of the Texas driver, he said, “You showed him mercy.”
“What does that mean,” I asked. I had heard that word, of course. But I knew from previous discussions with Dan, that such words coming from a Christian may have meanings that are both different and more meaningful than what you might hear from a non-Christian.

“When someone wrongs or insults you, and you simply let it go without responding, that is mercy.”

“So,” I said, “instead of doing what I usually do. Cuss the guy for a few weeks and once I’ve got all the juice out it, reluctantly decide to let the guy off. That’s forgiveness, right? Mercy’s better because you don’t waste all that energy.”

When I got home that evening, my brain was stewing on something. I went outside to sit on a bench and watch the last of the sunset. It was one of those monsoon sunsets, with every color in the book and every shade in between. I remembered the mercy experience and got an idea. I was due to go to France to visit my eldest son and his family in Montereau, south of Paris. I had a painful memory of the most recent visit there, the year before. My son and I got into a big quarrel, his wife was in tears and left the room. My son asked me out for a fight on the street and I said, “Yes, let’s go.”
A wiser head prevailed and he wandered off somewhere and I didn’t see him again that night. The next morning, I was the one with tears in my eyes. Tears of relieve that we hadn’t had a fight.

Now, I thought, what about taking a big bag, no a huge bag, the biggest bag I can find and fill it with mercy—so full of mercy that no matter what my son may do to provoke me, I’ll  be ready to bring out handfuls and shovelfuls of mercy—so much that anything could be overcome.

Well, a month later, I took that trip, loaded with mercy and reflecting on Finney, Charles Grandisson. And, it worked. I never quarreled with my son, much less fight with him. The day I left, he walked with me to the train station and said, as my train was leaving, “Come back as soon as you can. We all enjoyed having you here.”

Thank you, God, for your mercy to me and to my son.
Also, bless your helper, Pastor Dan, and your agent provocateur, a certain Texas truck driver I hope is still out there goin’ along and havin’ a good day.