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Not Perfect . . . Forgiven

Dr. A. J. Cronin was a physician in England who told the story of a young nurse in charge of a little boy

brought to the hospital of which he was the head. The boy was desperately ill with diphtheria; his throat was

choked with membrane, and he had only a slight chance to live. A tube was inserted to give him breath, but as

the nurse sat by the bed, she dozed off, went to sleep, and awakened to find that the tube had become blocked.

Instead of following instructions and clearing the line of membranes–a matter of nursing routine–she lost her

head and committed the unpardonable sin of bolting in panic. Hysterically she called the doctor out of sleep, but

when he got there the child was dead.

He was angry beyond all power of expression that a child should die so needlessly by such blundering,

inexcusable negligence. Of course, she was through; her career was finished. That same night he dipped his pen

in bitterness of spirit and wrote his report to the health board demanding her immediate expulsion. Then, calling

her in, he read it with a voice trembling with resentment. She stood there in pitiful silence, a thin, gawky Welsh

girl, half fainting with shame and remorse. “Well, have you nothing to say for yourself?” More silence and then

a stammering plea. “Give me . . . give me another chance.”

The doctor was taken aback. Indeed, he had no thought of that; it was a breach of discipline, and there

was nothing to do but punish her. He dismissed her, sealed his report, and went to bed. That night he couldn’t

sleep. The echo of a far-off Word came floating in, whispering, “Forgive us our trespasses ... ”

The following day he went to his desk and tore up the report. Then Dr. Cronin went on to tell how this

slim, nervous girl became the head of a large hospital and one of the most honored nurses in England. Pardon;

another chance–a fresh start:―certainly forgiveness means that. The writers of the New Testament leap to their

feet and cup their hands to their lips to shout it; bankrupt human speech trying to express it. Good news: there is

forgiveness with God! There is a land of beginning again.

There is a fountain filled with blood,

Drawn from Immanuel’s veins;

And sinners plunged beneath that flood,

Lose all their guilty stains.

Forgiveness―it is the word that rings like music all through the New Testament. It was the impulse in

which the Church was born. It was what the early Christians preached about as they went into the fear-haunted,

fatalistic, pessimistic Greek world. “Fatalism is a lie,” they said. “God gives us another chance.” Of course, the

Greeks laughed at it. To them it was foolishness.

Celsus, the Greek philosopher, heaped scorn on their shabby movement. “Every other teacher,” he said,

“summons to him the best people, the clever and the good, but this crazy Jesus calls to him the beaten and the

broken, the ragtag, the down-and-out, the failures and the scum.” But far from being shamed by that, the Church

gloried in it. “Yes, it’s true,” they said. “Christ does take the broken and defeated, but He doesn’t leave them

broken and defeated. Out of the failures, you would throw away, He makes new men; He gives them another

chance.” Our word “Gospel” means “good news,” and this is good news: “Now we have redemption through his

blood, even the forgiveness of sin.”

Francis Mason

Pastor Mason

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