Story Of Forgiveness
Forgiveness Part 1
Lisa sat on the floor
of her old room, staring at the box that lay in front of
her. It was an old shoe box that she had decorated to become
a memory box many years before. Stickers and penciled flowers
covered the top and sides. Its edges were worn, the corners
of the lid taped so as to keep their shape. It had been
three years since Lisa last opened the box. A sudden move
to Boston had kept her from packing it. But now that she
was back home, she took the time to look again at the memories.
Fingering the corners of the box and stroking its cover,
Lisa pictured in her mind what was inside. There was a photo
of the family trip to the Grand Canyon, a note from her
friend telling her that Nick Bicotti liked her, and the
Indian arrowhead she had found while on her senior class
trip. One by one, she remembered the items in the box, lingering
over the sweetest, until she came to the last and only painful
memory. She knew what it looked like--a single sheet of
paper upon which lines had been drawn to form boxes, 490
of them to be exact. And each box contained a check mark,
one for each time.
"How many times must I forgive my brother?"
the disciple Peter had asked Jesus.
Lisa's Sunday school teacher had read Jesus' surprise answer
to the class.
"Seventy times seven."
Lisa had leaned over to her brother Brent as the teacher
"How many times is that?" She whispered.
Brent, though two years younger, was smarter than she was.
"Four hundred and ninety," Brent wrote on the
corner of his Sunday school paper.
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Lisa saw the message, nodded, and sat back
in her chair. She watched her brother as the lesson continued.
He was small for his age, with narrow shoulders and short
arms. His glasses were too large for his face, and his hair
always matted in swirls. He bordered on being a nerd, but
his incredible skills at everything, especially music, made
him popular with his classmates. Brent had learned to play
the piano at age four, the clarinet at age seven, and had
just begun to play the oboe. His music teachers said he'd
be a famous musician someday. There was only one thing at
which Lisa was better than Brent--basketball. They played
it almost every afternoon after school. Brent could have
refused to play, but he knew that it was Lisa's only joy
in the midst of her struggles to get C's and D's at school.
Lisa's attention came back to her Sunday
school teacher as the woman finished the lesson and closed
with prayer. That same Sunday afternoon found brother and
sister playing basketball in the driveway. It was then that
the counting had begun. Brent was guarding Lisa as she dribbled
toward the basket. He had tried to bat the ball away, got
his face near her elbow, and took a shot on the chin.
"Ow!" he cried out and turned away.
Lisa saw her opening and drove to the basket, making an
easy lay-up. She gloated over her success but stopped when
she saw Brent.
"You okay?" she asked.
Brent shrugged his shoulders.
"Sorry," Lisa said.
"Really. It was a cheap shot."
"It's all right. I forgive you," he said.
A thin smile then formed on his face.
"Just 489 more times though."
"Whaddaya mean?" Lisa asked.
"You know . . . what we learned in Sunday
school today. You're supposed to forgive someone 490 times.
I just forgave you, so now you have 489 left," he kidded.
The two of them laughed at the thought of keeping track
of every time Lisa had done something to Brent. They were
sure she had gone past 490 long ago. The rain interrupted
their game, and the two moved indoors.
"Wanna play Battleship?" Lisa asked.
Brent agreed, and they were soon on the floor of the living
room with their game boards in front of them. Each took
turns calling out a letter and number combination, hoping
to hit each other's ships. Lisa knew she was in trouble
as the game went on. Brent had only lost one ship out of
five. Lisa had lost three. Desperate to win, she found herself
leaning over the edge of Brent's barrier ever so slightly.
She was thus able to see where Brent had placed two of his
ships. She quickly evened the score.
Pleased, Lisa searched once more for the location of the
last two ships. She peered over the barrier again, but this
time Brent caught her in the act.
"Hey, you're cheating!" He stared at her in disbelief.
Lisa's face turned red.
Her lips quivered. "I'm sorry," she said, staring
at the carpet.
There was not much Brent could say. He knew Lisa sometimes
did things like this. He felt sorry that Lisa found so few
things she could do well. It was wrong for her to cheat,
but he knew the temptation was hard for her.
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"Okay, I forgive you," Brent said.
Then he added with a small laugh, "I guess it's down
to 488 now, huh?"
"Yeah, I guess so."
She returned his kindness with a weak smile and added, "Thanks
for being my brother, Brent."
Brent's forgiving spirit gripped Lisa, and
she wanted him to know how sorry she was. It was that evening
that she made the chart with the 490 boxes. She showed it
to him before he went to bed.
"We can keep track of every time I mess up and you
forgive me," she said.
"See, I'll put a check in each box - like this."
She placed two marks in the upper left-hand boxes.
"These are for today."
Brent raised his hands to protest. "You don't need
to keep -"
"Yes I do!" Lisa interrupted.
"You're always forgiving me, and I want to keep track.
Just let me do this!"
She went back to her room and tacked the chart to her bulletin
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