While studying to be a pastor at Southwestern Adventist University (SWAU) in Keene, Texas, I worked at the Adventist Book Center. While working there I was taught how to engrave Bibles for customers. On one particular day the coach of the gymnastics team at SWAU came in to order some Bibles for his team and he wanted their Bible text theme to be engraved onto the Bibles. There were approximately 50 Bibles that I was asked to engrave.
I remember being excited to get those Bibles done and I secretly gave myself a goal to finish them as fast as I could. I set up my work station, turned on the engraving machine, set the stamp with the Bible text and I opened up the case of 50 Bibles. One after another I engraved every Bible in that case. When I finished I looked at each Bible and they looked amazing. I let my supervisor know and he was so thankful that I finished the Bibles so quickly and he proceeded to call the coach at SWAU.
The next day my boss called me in between classes and asked me if I could come into work as soon as possible. As soon as my last class for the day was finished I went straight to work. When I arrived my boss & my supervisor asked me to go to the office. While there they told me that I had engraved the wrong Bible text on all 50 Bibles. My heart sank…. I felt awful, so much so that I literally began to cry from my error and the failure that was so costly for the store. I remember telling my boss in the office that I would feel so much better if he would just fire me because I messed up so badly.
It was that day that both my boss and my supervisor taught me a very important lesson. They taught me about forgiveness and grace in a way that I couldn’t have learned without that experience. They taught me that I was more important than money and they also taught me that they believed in me. Thus, we began to try to solve the problem we had on hand.
As we examined the Bibles trying figure out what we could do we noticed that the Bibles had a very soft leather and we could lightly scrap the engraved materials off the Bibles. Once we did that to all 50 Bibles we warmed the engraving machine a little hotter than usual and we were able to engrave the correct passage onto the Bibles. The coach was happy with the finished product and my boss, supervisor and I were all relieved.
This week, as we continue our START WITH WHY series we are going to be examining a story of grace, forgiveness and reestablishment into ministry. You see we all mess up and what Jesus wants us to know is that He believes in us! If you feel like you are not worthy because you’ve messed up in the past, please know that Jesus has something very special for us in this week’s lesson. Let’s see what we can learn together about forgiveness and grace.