Someone recently sent me an Internet video that told a wonderful story about friendship. I want to share it here (paraphrased and edited, a little):
Two best friends were walking along the beach when they spotted a beautiful shell. One friend really wanted to keep it, but the other friend picked it and threw it back in the ocean. Without thinking, the first friend slapped the other in the face. Calmly, the second friend bent down, and with his finger wrote in the sand, "Today my best friend slapped me in the face." He stood up, wiped his hands and they began walking again. They came to a bridge, and as they crossed it, the second friend fell into the water and began to struggle. Without thinking, t he first friend jumped in and saved his friend by pulling him to shore. After catching his breath, the second friend found a large rock, pulled a chisel out of his backpack and carved into the stone, "Today my best friend saved my life." His friend looked at him and said, "A little while ago, when I slapped your face, you wrote what I did in the sand. Now, I save your life and you carve it into stone. Why?" His friend looked at him and said, "When you slapped me, I was hurt, but I wrote it in the sand so that as the water came onto the shore, the memory would be washed away and forgotten. But then you saved my life. I carved that memory into stone so that I can never forget what you did."
It's a simple concept, really. Sand or stone. It's also a Biblical concept. Growing up, I was always fascinated by the story of the woman caught in adultery. [John 8:1-11] I don't know. Maybe it was the imagery of being brought in front of a crowd of people and being accused of my sins that terrified me. As I moved through my twenties and early adult life, when I was ... not always acting like "God's Favorite Child" ... this story and the verse about my sins finding me out, [Numbers 32:23] kept me from walking through the doors of the church many times. People can be cruel and their memories of YOUR faults always seem to be in the forefront of THEIR memories (all while they conveniently forget about how they have personally stumbled in their own Christian walk).
But no matter how terrified I was by the FIRST part of the story, I always loved loved loved the SECOND part of the story. In the story, this woman [many believe her to be Mary Magdalene] was set up by the church leaders and was caught "in the act" with a young man. According to Jewish law, both persons caught in such a position were supposed to be stoned to death. [Leviticus 20:10] But in this story, only the woman was dragged in humiliation before Jesus. The Jewish leaders wanted to trap Jesus by asking him what He thought should be done to her. Instead of answering, Jesus just bent down and started writing in the dust at His feet. The Bible does not record what He wrote, and since He wrote it into the dust, there is no tourist attraction in Jerusalem where we can go visit and read His words for ourselves. But whatever He wrote, one by one, the Jewish leaders slunk away like the snakes in the grass that they were, along with the crowds of folks who had taken up their stones to hurl at this young woman. When Jesus stood up, He looked on the woman with compassion and said, "Where are your accusers? Didn't even one of them condemn you?" When she affirmed that no one was left to accuse her, He said, "Neither do I. Go and sin no more." [John 8:10-11] Now, I don't know if this woman never sinned again, but if she was indeed Mary Magdalene, she went on to become a devoted follower of Jesus and was one of the three women at His tomb on Easter morning. What a blessing!
Back to those men who tried to set her (and Jesus) up though. Even though these "leaders of the faith" were out to kill and destroy Him, Jesus showed them the same love and compassion that He shows each of us. Bible scholars tell us that He wrote the story of THEIR lives, sins and hidden secrets in the sand, and faced with their own duplicity, they left the scene of the crime in shame. But, as I stated before, He wrote it in the dust. There was no record for anyone else to hold up to them and accuse them of anything later. They stood accused by the convictions of their hearts. What love, what compassion.
How often do we show the same love and compassion to the people in our lives? Where do we store our memories of what people do to us - in sand or stone? I recently had a situation where a good friend did something to me and it really hurt my feelings. I was ready to just "go off" on her and let her have it, but then I saw this video ... and I stopped. I decided to write in sand what I was feeling (meaning, I didn't do anything at all) and let it go. About a week later, I found out that the betrayal was even deeper than I originally thought and I really struggled with how I should deal with it. This blog is my "carve into stone". Months from now, I'll re-read this and wonder, "What friend was I talking about and what did he or she do?", but I will be reminded again of the love and compassion of the BEST FRIEND I'll ever have. The Friend, who even though He knows all my dirt, loves me enough that He died on the cross to save me from my sins and from myself.
Thank you Jesus!
© 2018 Kristina E. Smith
© 2018 Kristina E. Smith