Bus Stop Lesson in Mercy
“Be merciful, just as your Father is merciful.” -Luke 6:36
I couldn’t have been more than eight or nine years old. We were waiting for the local transit bus. A trip with my dad also required his trusty companion, “Juno,” a beautiful German Shepherd guide dog to lead the way. I think as a child, I was always nervous heading out with my dad, knowing he couldn’t see. Even though I was young, I somehow wanted to protect him from anything that would hurt him or get in his way. After all, I had my sight. I knew could help!
But it seemed on this day, I was left helpless. The bus arrived and as we went to board, the bus driver held up his hand and sternly looked at us and told us to stop. “Umm daddy, the man says we can’t get on,” I said.
I remember my dad gently responding with a question, “What’s the problem sir?”
The bus driver proceeded, “You cannot get on this bus with a dog.”
My dad tried to explain to the bus driver that this was a working dog because he couldn’t see and that those types of dogs were allowed on the bus. But the bus driver wouldn’t budge. My dad asked for the driver’s name, got off the bus and there we stood as the bus quickly drove away.
I remember being so angry jumping up and down screaming, “He can’t do that! That’s not right.” I thought somehow my anger would make my dad feel better. Then, I saw tears streaming down his face. Suddenly, I didn’t know what to say or how to make my dad feel better, so I just quickly grabbed and squeezed his hand and told him, “I love you.”
Now, I think back and wonder what was really going through his head at the time. I think of how hurt, frustrated and humiliated he must have felt, but he never let on. “It’s ok, Christine. I’ll write a letter. It’s ok.”
A couple of weeks later, I remember my dad calling me over, to sit on his lap. He handed me a letter for me to open and read to him. It looked official. I saw the return address and realized it was from the bus company. The official from the bus company apologized for the incident that had happened. The bus company wanted to fire the driver who refused to let my dad and I on the bus.
“That’s great Daddy! You got him back!” I exclaimed. “Justice has been done!”
My dad though, didn’t have the same reaction. His head suddenly went down and he began to cry. It’s something I’ll never forget. I didn’t understand. “Daddy, why are you crying?” I asked.
My dad put his arms around me and said, “No, Christine, I need to call the company and plead with them NOT to fire the bus driver.”
Now, I was really confused. “What? But he did you wrong daddy. He should be fired!”
“No, Christine. He made a mistake and we all make mistakes. I’m going to ask the bus company for him to go through a disabilities training session but for him not to be fired.”
“Why daddy? I don’t understand.” I asked.
His answer struck me. My dad went on to say that bus driver, while he made a mistake, may have a family to feed and he probably needs this job. After all, my dad had just lost his job several months prior because he lost his eyesight. I’m sure my dad was concerned how he was going to provide for his family.
My dad, in that moment, was extending mercy. It’s something I fully didn’t grasp or understand until many years later.
Mercy is not getting what you do deserve. It is an act of being spared from judgment.
My dad fully understood the principle of mercy. Someone had wronged him and the natural reaction would be to want to get revenge, to fight back and get justice! Right? But my dad knew that was not the way. He knew he had to give it to God. Was it hard for him to do? To be honest, I’ll never know how hard it was for my dad. Instead, he chose to forgive the bus driver and move on.
Because of the price Jesus paid on the cross, God extends us that same mercy to us. We sin. We deserve a harsh punishment. But Jesus paid the price for us. God loves us, never gives up on us and extends His grace and mercy to us each and every time. We have the choice to accept it and live better for it.
Is there someone who has wronged you?
Is there someone who has hurt you so badly you’d like to get revenge? Think about this story and I hope it encourages you, instead, to let go. Extend forgiveness. Extend mercy, just as God has forgiven you.
It’s certainly not easy and it doesn’t mean it hurts any less. The problem is, the only person you are hurting is you.
Give it to God.
He will fight your battles for you. Do you trust Him to do that for you? He will. And parents, your children are watching your actions and how you handle situations. There is no doubt I take the lesson of mercy and what happened at that bus stop with me, even to this day.
Prayer: Father, search our hearts today. Reveal to us any hurt or offense we have experienced. Father, You are kind and gracious. Would You heal those whose hearts have been deeply hurt, with Your grace. Would You strengthen and empower those who need to extend forgiveness and mercy – just as You have forgiven us. You loved us so much, You sent Your only Son to come to earth to experience the worst pain imaginable so that I could be forgiven. Father, help us to demonstrate unconditional love today, even to those who have hurt us. In Jesus’ Name we pray. Amen.
Praying for you today – that God would heal any hurts, encourage and bless your day!
You are loved.