All parents would like their adult children to come to church. If the adult children decide to join the parents in their home church, it’s even better.
One warm spring day my adult son and his family phoned to say they would be meeting us at church for the early service. My adult daughter and her family were also committed to sit with us. “Mom, could you save us seats?” came the request through the phone line. “The baby needs to nurse, and we aren’t quite dressed but we will be there soon!”
“Of course, we will save you some seats!” Okay, maybe a lot of seats since this meant 10 people counting the babies would sit together. When we got to the service our usual pew was waiting for us, so we threw down some sweaters, Bibles and programs to save space for our family to worship together. All this seemed good until the minutes began to tick away with no sign of kids.
An older lady who used a walker came in the sanctuary with her faithful daughter guiding her down the aisle. She tried to take a seat at the end of the pew we had saved. Her daughter noticed we had littered the pew with materials, gave me a scolding look and moved up one pew. I knew it was her usual seat but my family was coming. It was difficult to concentrate on the service when the realization that my children weren’t going to show up began to sink in. We had scrambled to get the seats reserved, and another member had been booted from her usual place for nothing! I felt horrible for her and asked God to grant her peace. I thought, “She is quite old and obviously is in love with the Lord. My son and his wife do not yet know the Lord. The seats were being saved for the unsaved. Surely she would understand?”
I just happened to know the woman and knew she had failing health. Her daughter was visibly disgusted with us, especially when the seats were never occupied. It was an unfortunate situation, not easily corrected. We certainly felt unfriended that day, but I did not hold the animosity shown to our family against the feeble woman. I didn’t try to make her understand, I just prayed for her.
God took the woman home within a few weeks of that event. When I heard of her passing, I immediately thought, “Wow, God has just given her a front row seat!” I thanked the Lord for her life and her service to Him. I was not harboring anything against her or her daughter but wondered if they had held us hostage for interfering with their seating assignments. I know this seems like such a small thing, but people really get offended easily when things don’t go their way or they don’t get what they believe they deserve. It’s a great picture of what we do as a church family without meaning to.
I cannot go to the dead woman to ask her forgiveness, but I can release her and her daughter from any wrongdoing. It was my decision whether or not I was going to hang on to that offense or not. I decided to let it go. I decided to forgive and forget – forever.