Tonight's entry is the culmination of three related posts, the other two being last Wednesday's called Chuck and last Thursday's entitled BIG BAD JOHN. AS you might guess, this is about Chuck and Johnny! This is from April 28, 2006.
This is a first. I have never written related entries on back-to-back days but it's like the old song by The Fixx, One Thing Leads To Another. Yesterday's story centered on Johnny, a baseball player I coached at Georgia Christian School who miraculously overcame a broken hand to make an appearance in the State Tournament. One comment posted concerning Big Bad John was written by Chuck DeWeese, Johnny's teammate. Chuck verified that the incident did indeed take place and that apparently, I was one of the few in the dark at the time. So much for coach-player communication; all that stuff is overrated, anyway! But, I felt I could not go on to other topics, however pressing they might be, without one more stroll down a memory lane that leads to a baseball field deep in South Georgia.
It was Chuck's and Johnny's senior year. We were playing on a new field on our campus and enjoying, for us, unparalleled success in the won-loss column. Chuck and Johnny were good friends, both coming from nearby Quitman. I was talking to some players by the dugout before we officially started practice one afternoon. Chuck and Johnny were standing in the vicinity of home plate when a fight broke out between them. To this day, I have no idea what sparked the brawl but it escalated. I sprinted and grabbed Chuck and someone else, I think Jerry Bridges, pulled Johnny away from the fracas. Chuck's fondest memory of the fray is that even though Johnny nailed him with a good shot to the head, temporarily clouding his vision, he never went down. It ended quickly, as do most flare-ups of that nature. I don't remember anything else from practice that day except I was livid. We made it through the session without further incident. That's not the end of the story. After practice, I drove to the convenience store in Dasher, the tiny community that was the home to GCS. Guess what I saw? Chuck and Johnny were inside, playing pinball together as if that afternoon had been erased in some sort of Back To The Future scenario. It was obvious they had both been in a fight- dirty, disheveled, bruised- but the incident, if not totally forgotten, was not an issue. You would NEVER have believed that two hours before, Chuck and Johnny were trying with all their might to maim each other. It was hard for me to stay angry when they had resolved the conflict.
I tell the Chuck and Johnny story in my Bible classes. The boys understand it but some girls struggle with the almost instantaneous forgiveness granted by the combatants. In fact, I have had female students tell me it makes them angry that boys can forget and absolve each other with, what seems to them, so little effort. In Matthew 18, in response to Peter's question regarding the number of times we are required to forgive, Jesus tells the Parable of the Unmerciful Servant. In concluding the teaching, the Savior says torture is the fate of the servant who was unforgiving to his fellow servant. The Lord gives this warning: "This is how my heavenly father will treat each of you unless you forgive your brother from your heart." Chuck and Johnny, our third baseman and our catcher, forgave each other from the heart that day. They let it go and moved on. Their ability to do so blessed their lives and blessed our team, which meant more to each of them than individual honor. I can't pretend to know the hurt that goes on in the lives of others and the havoc wreaked on innocents by extremely guilty people. I do know the need to forgive permeates the teachings of Jesus Christ. I have forgiveness ONLY because of him. I can't withhold it from another. As an educator, I pride myself on teaching life lessons to my students. Two teenage boys at a pinball machine in rural Georgia modeled for their coach a sermon on the essence of forgiveness.
Applicable quote of the day:
"I can forgive, but I cannot forget, is only another way of saying, I will not forgive. Forgiveness ought to be like a cancelled note- torn in two and burned up so that it can never be shown against one."
Henry Ward Beecher
Steve (The Peacemaker)
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