A Sermon given by David Jones on June 20, 2010
This is a very beautiful story that will surely touch your heart. I hope you will enjoy it as I give the details.
A young man was getting ready to graduate from college. For many months he had admired a beautiful sports car in a dealer’s showroom, and knowing his father could well afford it, he told him that was all he wanted.
As Graduation Day approached, the young man awaited signs that his father had purchased the car. Finally, on the morning of his graduation his father called him into his private study. His father told him how proud he was to have such a fine son, and told him how much he loved him. He handed his son a beautifully wrapped gift box. Curious, but somewhat disappointed the young man opened the box and found a lovely, leather-bound Bible.
Angrily, he raised his voice at his father and said, “With all your money, you give me a Bible?” and stormed out of the house, leaving the holy book.
Many years passed and the young man was very successful in business. He had a beautiful home and wonderful family, but realized his father was very old, and thought perhaps he should go to him.
He had not seen him since that graduation day.
Before he could make arrangements, he received a telegram telling him his father had passed away, and willed all of his possessions to his son. He needed to come home immediately and take care of things. When he arrived at his father’s house, sudden sadness and regret filled his heart. He began to search his father’s important papers and saw the still new Bible, just as he had left it years ago. With tears, he opened the Bible, and began to turn the pages. As he read those words, a car key dropped from an envelope taped behind the Bible. It had a tag with the dealer’s name, the same dealer who had the sports car he had desired. On the tag was the date of his graduation, and the words … PAID IN FULL.
How many times do we miss God’s blessings because they are not packaged as we expected?
Here is another story, a true one shared with you by permission. (Joyce and Barry Vissell)
A Father’s Apology to His Son:
Hal, a participant in one of our workshops, felt moved to write the following letter to his now 24-year-old son, whom he had not seen in over a year.
“I need to apologize to you for some big mistakes I made in my fathering.
I hope this allows us to feel closer to one another.
My greatest hope would be for you to forgive me.
Although we have never talked about it, there were maybe half a dozen times in your childhood when I struck you in anger. One of those times stands out sharply in my memory, and I imagine in yours as well. I think you were about eight. I came home from a job that I hated, more frustrated than usual. You were throwing a ball in your room, which I had previously told you not to do. I heard the crash of broken glass and ran into your room to see you had just broken your window. I lost it and started hitting you, even several times in the face. I think it was the worst as well as the last time I have ever beaten you.
Afterwards you were crying and I felt terrible, but I never let you know my remorse or apologized for my cruel actions.
I want you to know how sad I feel for every time I hurt you, but especially for that one particular evening. It weighed heavily on my heart for many months, and over the years it has caused me much grief. I have often judged myself a bad father because of that episode alone.
I want you to know it was never your fault when I hit you. No child deserves to be hit by a parent or anyone else. I was needing to let you know how upset I felt in each situation. I was needing to express my anger, my disappointment with words rather than my hands. But I had never learned this from my own father. What I did to you I learned from him. It’s terrible how abuse can get passed down from generation to generation. My greatest hope is that this terrible legacy stops with you.
Although I believe I never hit you again after that night, it has taken me till now (with help) to understand that it is never too late to apologize and ask for your forgiveness. I am so very sorry for taking out my own frustrations on you. It was clearly wrong for me to ever hit you. I need your forgiveness, and also understand you might need time to forgive me.
Someday you may be a father. If that comes to pass, I think you will be a better father than I was to you. I sincerely hope my apology helps. I love you.
Writing this letter helped relieve Hal of a burden he had been carrying for years. But there’s more. Two months later he received the following reply, showing what is possible through asking for forgiveness.
Thanks for your letter.
I have to admit it came as a total surprise, even a shock. I’ve been busy with my life, so I haven’t thought about the “beatings” for a long time. Those memories were difficult.
When I first read your letter I couldn’t get past the bad feelings it brought up. I actually had to put it down for a few days.
But when I picked it up again and read it more carefully, I got what it was all about.
Thank you for apologizing. I guess better late than never.
Yeah, I can begin to forgive you now. It helps a lot to know how bad you felt. I only wish I would have known that sooner. All these years I’ve felt it was all my fault, that I deserved to be punished.
From your letter I can understand that, of course, I never deserved to be hit, not by you or anyone. It’s probably going to take me some time to let all of this sink in. It’s kind of like having a new dad.
I love you too, dad. Thanks for writing.
Signed, your son.
So, does either of these two stories touch your heart? Bring back memories? Can we take just a few moments and reflect and think about our own stories?
Who needs understanding?
Who needs forgiveness?
Who needs self-acceptance, acknowledgement and love?
Maybe you need to write your story and share it with a trusted person. As Sidney Jourard, psychologist said in his beautiful book, “The Transparent Self”, the first step in becoming whole is to share our story, and let us ourselves be known to another without bluffing or hiding, and sharing our truth. Thus begins the journey of healing.
So together, let us repeat,
“Today, right now, I make amends with whomever I need to, and I forgive everyone I need to. I let go of the past, and in the present declare, that “I am complete, divine and in harmony. All aspects of my life now integrate together to make me full, happy, and complete. I forgive as best I can, I let go, and surrender to the divine still voice within that loves me, accepts me, and makes my story one that I am able to own, experience, share and feel at peace with.” And so it is. Thank you God.