How my father taught me to forgive

ewf_beardTHE NINETEENTH DAY OF JUNE IN THE YEAR OF GRACE TWO THOUSAND AND SIXTEEN.


Today is Father’s Day in the United States, and since neither the biological offspring (the child) nor the generating parent (the father) chooses the other, a positive father-child relationship is the product of both divine grace and human effort. I had a good but imperfect father by the name of Bennie Lee Fudge, who, with my mother Sybil Short Fudge (later Dewhirst) raised their six children in Christian instruction and practice. The following recollections describe a memorable lesson by my father in forgiveness, as told in my book, The Sound of His Voice: Discovering the Secrets of God’s Guidance, p. 46. (See: edwardfudge.com/written-ministry/ for more details.)

Since childhood, Daddy had aspired to serve as an elder in a local church. Although he preached for many years, he never had that privilege. Two years before he died, his congregation nominated him for its eldership. Because of Daddy’s recent business bankruptcy, however, another preacher in town, who did not belong to that congregation, protested the nomination and it was withdrawn. Daddy’s lifelong dream was crushed, and his spirit was crushed with it. However, he never complained or threatened to get even with the man who had hurt him.

About a year later, the phone rang one evening as we finished dinner, and the caller asked for Daddy. It was an elder of another congregation in the county, about to employ a new preacher. “We are thinking of hiring Brother So-and-So,” the caller said, referring to the man who had killed Daddy’s dream a year before. “We know that you know him, and we would appreciate your opinion of his qualifications.”Without hesitation, Daddy replied. “He is a good man, and I think he will do an excellent job for you,” he said. “I hope you will offer him the position.” He hung up the receiver and sat back down.

The rest of us were mute with astonishment. “How could you say that?” we asked. Don’t you remember what he did to you?”

“What?”

We reminded him of the earlier incident.

“Well,” he said, “I had completely forgotten that. But even if I had remembered it, I would have said the same thing because it was true, and he will do a good job for that church.”