“Mistakes”.  According to Merriam-Webster’s dictionary, a mistake is made when one makes a wrong or incorrect judgment about something.  Of course, we all make mistakes.  It is part of being human.  We do them unconsciously or deliberately.  But we all “mess up”.  Some of us worse than others.

I have made my share of mistakes.  Some have been funny; others have resulted in serious consequences such as the time I jumped on a horse to show off to friends…and the horse bolted in the corral of milling animals and tried desperately to throw me off/decapitate me/bite me.  I barely managed to escape.  My body, though battered, was intact.  I can’t say the same for my ego.

However, as I grow older I am learning that what first appears to be a mistake…might not be.  Unintended consequences go both ways:  sometimes they are negative and sometimes they can be positive.  It is best not to judge until all the data is in…and, even then, I believe that God can redeem even the vilest mistake.

This Oriental story* illustrates the truth of waiting to evaluate a “mistake”.

Wait and See

Once upon a time, a farmer had a white stallion.  He was very proud of this horse and cared for it with diligence and gentleness.  However, one day his horse disappeared.  The neighbors came and said, ‘Oh, what a pity!  Your horse is gone!’  The man answered, ‘I do not know if this is good or bad.  I will have to see.’

            A week later, his horse returned with seven mares in tow. 

            The neighbors then remarked, ‘Oh, what good luck you have!  Your herd has increased.’  The man answered, ‘I do not know if this is good or bad luck.  We will have to see.’

The man’s only son dedicated himself to breaking the horses.  However, one day he was thrown from the saddle and fractured his legs.  Once again, the neighbors spoke up, ‘Oh, what a calamity!  Your son is incapacitated!’

            The man calmly answered, ‘Maybe so.  Maybe not.  I will wait and see.’

            Soon after, the president of the country declared war on an adjacent country.  All able-bodied men were conscripted to serve in the military.  The man’s son was allowed to remain in the village because of his injured legs. The neighbors, not yet learning the lesson, commented, ‘Oh, you are one blessed father!  Our sons have been taken away while yours is still at home!’

The farmer smiled and said, ‘Yes, I am glad he is at home.  But I will have to wait to see if this a good thing or a bad thing.”  This time the neighbors went away, shaking their heads at the wisdom of the farmer.  They said, ‘We, too, will wait and see!’”                *source unknown

One day in Bolivia, I was in a hurry, trying to get my four children off to school as well as my husband, Tim, off to work.  The plan was for me to take lunch to Tim and his helper at noon since they were working on a property with no access to food or water.  I packed it all up, ready to go.

I delivered the lunch a little after 12:00 o’clock:  left-over macaroni salad and a nice jug of cold water.

When Tim and his assistant, Onesimo, sat down to eat, however; Tim realized I had neglected to put in plates.  No problem.  He and Onesimo just took turns eating from the same bowl.

It was no big deal to Tim.  But it turned out to be a VERY big deal to Onesimo.  A week later, the Bolivian came to Viru Viru Airport to see us off as we headed to the U.S. on furlough.  He began to cry as he said, “I have worked with many Gringos and have always found them to be, well, a bit arrogant and emotionally cold.  I have shared meals with many of them.  But I have never eaten from the same bowl as one.  By your sharing, I knew you accepted me as an equal.  I want to work with someone like you!”

And he has.  For over 15 years.  Onesimo and his lovely wife, Elodia, have worked alongside us as national missionaries first to the Ayores and then to the Chiquitanos.  They are more than co-workers; they are more than friends.  They are family.

I won’t say it is all because of a bowl of left-over macaroni salad and no plates. But my mistake became a symbol of redemption.

Just like the “mistake” of crucifying Jesus became a good thing; a very good thing indeed.

So the next time, you blunder…remember…”It ain’t over yet.  Wait until the trumpet sounds!”      by ceci ramsey


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