The Woman Who Couldn’t Read
“Put on then, as God’s chosen ones, holy and beloved, compassionate hearts, kindness, humility, meekness, and patience, bearing with one another and, if one has a complaint against another, forgiving each other; as the Lord has forgiven you, so you also must forgive. And above all these put on love, which binds everything together in perfect harmony.” Col. 3:12-14 ESV
“I have a sixth grade education,” a woman told me one day. She had grown up without electricity and running water and was abused as a child and in her marriage. She had called me requesting some of my tracts and devotionals to give to some homeless people she had taken under her wings and into her home. What struck me more than anything in our conversation was this.
“Have you forgiven the person who abused you when you were a child?” I asked her.
Usually when I ask people this question, they either say, “Yes,” or “No way. I could never forgive that person.”
She didn’t say either. She said this.
“I took care of that person while the person was dying of cancer,” she said simply.
“I had my Bible with me as I cared for the person who was dying. My grandmother taught me how to live it,” she essentially said.
“Do you know how to read?” I asked her.
“I go back and forth to the library. I teach myself to read,” she said.
How many of us take our ability to read for granted? How many of us have Bibles we never, or rarely, open, or open only on Sundays for the hour we warm the pew seats? How many of us are reading our Bibles, studying our Bibles, and learning to live by what God teaches us in His Word? How many of us are loving and forgiving others as God commands? How many of us are using our trials and hard lives as an excuse not to follow Jesus? Not to love? Not to forgive?
Forgiveness is a big word with many letters for an adult learning how to read, isn’t it? But it isn’t just a word to read, is it? It’s a fundamental part of God’s Word to live by. Yet it’s a word so many of us just toss around, isn’t it? We tend to say we’ve done it or refuse to do it. So many of us think of it as a word and nothing more. We say we’ve forgiven, or we say we haven’t. Love is an easy word. We toss it around too, don’t we?
This simple woman with a hard life who opens her heart and home to people in need lived her forgiveness as her perpetrator lay dying. What I heard more than anything in our conversation was a meek woman living the love of Christ.
Are you and I doing the same?