He walked into my office and chatted for ninety minutes. Yes. Ninety minutes. I lost an hour and a half talking to the big boss one morning at work. And he told me a story I’ll never forget. His friend in Florida, a minister by the way, was driving and hit a thirteen year old girl who was riding her bike. Instead of stopping, he drove away. It was a hit and run. And then he proceeded to drive an hour away to get his car repaired. The young girl is now in intensive care. He was apprehended and arrested. The fate of each of these individuals is in limbo.
The man telling me the story asked why. Why would someone do this? Just drive away? It’s a question for the ages. But it’s not the first time something like this has happened. And it most likely won’t be the last. But it still is a very haunting question. What makes someone do the unthinkable? Was he so panicked that he wasn’t thinking straight? Did he know what he hit? Was he intoxicated? Or unknowingly cognitively impaired? Or was he just paralyzed with fear? It was an accident. Now it’s a crime scene.
I don’t know what I would do in that situation. I hope that common sense would set in and I would stop to help the girl. After all, it’s another human being. But we never know how we will respond until the moment is upon us. And we may do the unthinkable, just as this man did. I’m sure he’s having many regrets as his liberty has been cut short. His twilight years may now be spent behind bars. His retirement savings may be used to pay for legal counsel. His aging wife will be alone. What was he thinking? We ask.
But you, O Lord, are a God of compassion and mercy, slow to get angry and filled with unfailing love and faithfulness. Look down and have mercy on me. Give your strength to your servant; save me, the son of your servant. Psalms 86:15-16
As I was talking to the man, he mentioned that his wife was raised as a Communist. But then she decided to research and study Christianity. She decided that it wasn’t worth pursuing. And as she heard the story of this minister, she asked how a Christian could do such a thing. If that’s the way Christians act, she wants no part of Christianity. I told him that I was a Christian. He quickly assured me that he was, too. I wanted to ask for his definition of being a Christian, but decided that was a conversation for another day.
I went on to tell him that as humans, we all make mistakes. Some mistakes have serious consequences. We don’t always choose to do the right thing. Christian or not. Our mistakes don’t have to define us, but they sure can leave their mark on our lives and on others. Should someone who makes a mistake be punished for the rest of their life? I guess it depends on the severity of the situation.
We’re told it’s not our place to judge. Christian or not. And rightly so. Some mistakes are public knowledge. Others are private and never disclosed. Only God knows our intentions, and he will judge accordingly. Of course, remorse and repentance is always the path to take. We would ask for the same benefit of the doubt if the shoe were on the other foot.
As Christians, we know that God will be with us in our moments of mistakes. He’ll forgive our sins. We should learn and grow from each lesson in our lives. If we learned a valuable lesson and changed our ways after every mistake we make, our lives would be so changed that others would see the difference. But we’re human. We’re always prone to mistakes. We’ll never be perfect. It’s the long road of obedience to God’s commands that usher us forward into each new trial and test. Wisdom comes from learning from our past experiences and obeying God. Let’s show grace to others in their time of need and uncertainty. But let’s also consider others above ourselves and do the right thing. Regardless of the consequences.