“It’s okay to make mistakes,” the card, quoting a child, said. And on the inside, “That’s why God made pencils with erasers.”
That is true, that part about it being okay to make mistakes, but not all mistakes are created equal.
On the way between my house and the grocery store there is a railroad track. If you get caught by a train going by, you might sit a while. Sometimes we’ve counted over 200 cars rumbling by.
One afternoon I was on my way home in our old Odyssey van, and right before I got to the track, the bells started clanging. I saw the train way down the way, and for some dumb reason I was in a hurry, didn’t want to wait so I gunned the engine to rush through the crossing.
Then . . . CRACK!!!
I didn’t see it coming, the long red and white striped bar crashed down, breaking the windshield and scaring me seriously.
For a frightening split second I thought the bar would hold me there but it raised back up and I quickly drove across the tracks. On the other side the red light stopped me, and there I sat, trying to breathe, while a long and loud train passed close behind my van.
The light finally turned green and I drove the two miles home, shaking with fear (imagining about what could have happened) and shame (Sarah, how could you be so stupid?) and guilt, knowing I had to face Jake.
There is a beautiful story in the Old Testament (Genesis 27-33) about twin brothers. Jacob lied and cheated his brother Esau and ran away to live far away from him for fourteen or more years.
On the day Jacob, with his large family and herds, was moving back home, he was terrified of his brother, expecting his revengeful anger and possible death. “But Esau ran to meet Jacob and embraced him; he threw his arms around his neck and kissed him.” (33:4)
What a scene.
And Jacob’s response? He said, “To see your face is like seeing the face of God.” (v. 10)
That day I came home with the broken windshield, I didn’t expect Jake to throw his arms around my neck and kiss me – and he didn’t – but his face and words gave me the message: Don’t worry. It’s okay.
The pain in my belly — the wave of fear, shame and guilt caused by that ‘mistake’ — started to calm, as I believed Jake’s face.
There were years of my life that I didn’t let myself be okay with making mistakes. I lived trying to earn love and show everyone I was someone special.
I knew about God and Jesus, but I had not experienced the power of His grace, His unconditional and complete forgiveness and acceptance.
In a world like this, and with a limited heart like mine, it’s hard to believe in Unlimited Love like that.
It’s hard to see the forgiving face of God.
But it would be a serious and grievous mistake not to.