By Kyle Idelman
Sue Kidd was a nurse. One quiet January night at her hospital she went into Room 712 to meet a new patient. His name was Mr. Williams. He was a man in his fifties, all alone, no family with him. She placed her stethoscope on his chest and listened, hearing a strong steady heartbeat. There was little indication that he had suffered a mild heart attack only hours earlier.
Mr. Williams looked up from the starched white bed sheets to Sue and asked, “Would you call my daughter Janie and tell her that I have had a mild heart attack? She is the only family that I have.” His eyes welled up with tears and his respiration sped up. She increased his nasal oxygen and tried to calm him down, saying, “Yes, I’ll be happy to call your daughter.” He replied, with a sense of urgency in his voice, “Would you call her right away? Would you call her just as soon as you can?” He was breathing fast … too fast. Sue said, “I will call her right now.” She turned to exit the hospital room, but when she did, Mr. Williams said, “One more thing. Could I get a piece of paper and a pen if it’s not too much trouble?” She found a yellow tablet of paper, tore off a sheet, and set it with a pen, next to the table beside his bed.
She sat down at her telephone and opened up his medical chart. Listed under “Next of Kin” was his daughter Janie. Sue dialed the number, and Janie’s soft voice answered the phone. “Hi, Janie, this is Sue Kidd. I’m a nurse at the local hospital. I am calling concerning your father. He was admitted to the hospital. He suffered a heart attack.” Janie interrupted in a panic, “He’s not going to die, is he?” Sue tried to reassure her, “Well, he is in stable condition right now.” Janie said, “Please, you can’t let him die. We haven’t spoken since my 21st birthday. We had a fight over a boyfriend. I stormed out of the house; I never returned. The last thing I said to him was, ‘I hate you!’ All these months I’ve wanted to go back and forgive him. Please!” Her voice cracked and she began to sob. Sue, listening, found that her own eyes were burning with tears.
The BB Gun
When my wife and I were first married, we were taking some stuff out of boxes and I found a BB pistol that someone had given me for my bachelor party. I started playing around with it in the front room of the house. My wife said, “You better be careful or that gun is going to go off.” This was an affront to my masculinity. If she thought I was slinging the gun before, now she’d really see something. So I started doing my best Wyatt Earp imitation with this gun and … it went off. I shot out the window in the front of the house we were just moving into. The glass cracked, and there was a hole in the window. It was the perfect opportunity for my wife to say, “I told you so.” But she didn’t say anything. She laughed it off and helped me clean up the mess.
A few days later I pulled one of my favorite shirts out to wear, and noticed a bleach spot on it. I started walking through the house, ready to tell her, “This is one of my favorite shirts. Look what you did!” But to get to the kitchen I had to go through the front room, and as I walked through it I felt a cool breeze coming from the hole in the wall, where a window should have been.
I turned around and put the shirt back in the drawer, deciding it was best not to bring it up.
The thing about grace is that you can’t receive it and then not give it away. That’s what the Bible says. In fact, the idea is repeated often:
- Bear with each other and forgive one another if any of you has a grievance against someone. Forgive as the Lord forgave you. Colossians 3:13
- Be kind and compassionate to one another, forgiving each other, just as in Christ God forgave you. Ephesians 4:32
- For if you forgive other people when they sin against you, your heavenly Father will also forgive you. Matthew 6:14
In my new book, Grace Is Greater, and in the last few blog posts I suggest that grace is not something to just be preached on and understood; it must be experienced. We need to experience grace. But it’s not just something to be experienced; it also must be given. People who receive grace must become givers of grace. Grace is getting the opposite of what you deserve from God, receiving forgiveness instead of judgment. Grace is also giving the opposite of what other people deserve from you, offering forgiveness instead of judgment.
Before It’s Too Late
After Sue Kidd, the nurse at the hospital, hung up the phone with Janie, she prayed, “God, please let this daughter find forgiveness and grace.” Then she got up and went to Room 712 to check on Mr. Williams. When she walked in, he was unconscious. She went over to check his pulse. There was none. Doctors and nurses flooded the room; a tube was inserted through his mouth; the heart monitor was connected. They tried everything, but nothing. Sue prayed, “God, please don’t let it end this way. His daughter is on her way. Please, God, not like this.” But he didn’t come back. He died.
Sue left Room 712. As she stepped into the hallway, she saw one of the doctors talking to a young lady who was very upset. She knew this had to be Janie. Sue went over to her, wrapped her arms around her and said, “I am so sorry.” Janie said, “I didn’t hate him. I loved my Dad.” Sue and Janie walked down the hallway and into Room 712. Janie leaned over the hospital bed and buried her head in the pillow next to her father’s and sobbed. Sue leaned against the table next to the side of the bed and her hand fell upon a yellow sheet of paper, the one that she had given Mr. Williams earlier. She picked it up. It said: “My Dearest Janie, I forgive you. I know you love me. I love you, too. Daddy.”
Sue, with a trembling hand, held it out for Janie to read. Janie read it once, then twice. She wiped the tears from her eyes. There was a slight smile. Then she read it again, and the tears started to flow. But the tears were different. These were tears of grace.
So, I’m wondering: Do you need to write a note? Is there a phone call you need to make?
Because your heavenly Father has left you a note. In this note, He made it clear that He forgives you and He loves you more than you can imagine. In this note He has offered you grace and He’s asked you to offer it to others. He’s made it clear that you need to forgive, as the Lord forgave you. Whatever it is, grace is greater.
To learn more about experiencing grace, check out Kyle’s new book, Grace Is Greater.