At the end of a recent long journey, we were grabbing our suitcases and quickly realized one of the bags was missing. We hunted around the baggage area, looking to see if perhaps someone was accidentally walking away with our bag, but we didn’t spot anything suspicious. We inquired with the staff and they stared searching with us.
After a little while longer we noticed one lonely suitcase in the claim area. It was a similar size as ours but really looked nothing like our bag.
Did someone mistake our bag for this one? On one hand we hoped so, but on the other, we hoped not because that meant our bag was on its way to who-knows-where.
One staff member at the luggage area noticed the remaining bag as well and she began inspecting the details. She then called the phone number on the bag tag and started speaking with the person. Bottom line… someone else mistakenly took our bag. Are you kidding me? They had been driving for a little while, but they were immediately going to turn around and exchange ours for theirs. Phew!
We were all quite astonished. How could someone mistake our bag for this one? Different brand and tags, ours had a ribbon on it, and theirs had a large strap going around the middle, and the tell-tale sign of your bag: it has your name on it. If it has someone else’s name, it isn’t your bag. My sarcastic side was firing on all cylinders, we were all shaking our heads.
All who have this hope in him purify themselves, just as he is pure. (1 John 3:3)
I wish I could say that our family’s first reaction was pure; full of love, patience and forgiveness, but it wasn’t.
Everyone who sins breaks the law; in fact, sin is lawlessness. (1 John 3:4)
We all had varying levels of anger and judgement.
No one who lives in him keeps on sinning. No one who continues to sin has either seen him or known him. (1 John 3:6)
To be fair, this negativity went on for just a minute until we all took a deep breath. What would Jesus do? Nothing new here: A human made a mistake.
For this is the message you heard from the beginning: We should love one another. (1 John 3:11)
We all make mistakes. If we don’t forgive others, how can we ask God to forgive us? Do we love others or do we just say we love others?
This is how we know what love is: Jesus Christ laid down his life for us. And we ought to lay down our lives for our brothers and sisters. (1 John 3:16)
The world would tell us to go ahead and lay into the culprits and seek revenge. However this world is not our home, nor our final destination, and the logic of this world is not the logic nor will of our father in Heaven. It was time to bend our fleshly will toward the will of God who forgives us through his son Jesus.
Dear children, let us not love with words or speech but with actions and in truth. (1 John 3:18)
About 45 minutes later we had the opportunity to exchange the bags in person. Clearly embarrassed, the man and I exchanged eye contact and he immediately said “I’m so sorry”.
He didn’t look like a monster, he looked like a child of God. He looked like someone’s grandfather, a kind and gentle man. Someone’s husband. Someone’s beloved. We shook hands and went our separate ways, perhaps we will meet again in Heaven and I will confess that his apology wasn’t needed: I was the one who should have apologized for my wicked heart.
Father God, I repent of the selfishness that so often wells up in my heart. For putting me first instead of first loving others like you first loved us. Thank you for being so quick to forgive even though we are not always quick to forgive. Thank you for a new day, for the hope we have in you. Guide my heart. Cleanse me from all unrighteousness. Your will be done. Amen.