Henry Feyerabend

Learning from Mistakes

A young man of 32 had been appointed President of a bank. He'd never dreamed he'd be president, much less at such a young age. So he approached the venerable Chairman of the Board and said, "You know, I've just been appointed President. I was wondering if you could give me some advice."

The old man came back with just two words: "right decisions!" The young man had hoped for a bit more than this, so he said, "That's really helpful, and I appreciate it, but can you be more specific? How do 1 make right decisions?"

The wise old man simply responded, "Experience."

The young man said, "Well, that's just the point of my being here. I don't have the kind of experience I need. How do I get it?"

Came the terse reply, "Wrong decisions!"

Love and Forgiviness Comes from Jesus

Corrie Ten Boom shares this true story in her book, The Hiding Place. It was a church service in Munich that I saw him, the former S.S. man who had stood guard at the shower room door in the processing center at Ravensbruck. He was the first of our actual jailers that I had seen since that time. And suddenly it was all there - the roomful of mocking men, the heaps of clothing, Betsie's pain-blanched face. He came up to me as the church was emptying, beaming and bowing. "How grateful I am for your message, Fraulein," he said. "To think that, as you say, He has washed my sins away!"

His hand was thrust out to shake mine. And I, who had preached so often to the people in Bloemendaal the need to forgive, kept my hand at my side.

Even as the angry, vengeful thoughts boiled through me, I saw the sin of them. Jesus Christ had died for this man; was I going to ask for more? Lord Jesus, I prayed, forgive me and help me to forgive him.

I tried to smile, I struggled to raise my hand. I could not. I felt nothing, not the slightest spark of warmth or charity. And so again I breathed a silent prayer. Jesus, I cannot forgive him. Give me Your forgiveness.

As I took his hand the most incredible thing happened. From my shoulder along my arm and through my hand a current seemed to pass from me to him, while into my heart sprang a love for this stranger that almost overwhelmed me.

I discovered that the world's healing hinges not on our forgiveness or on our goodness, but on His. When He tells us to love our enemies, He gives, along with the command, the love itself.

"What Hath God wrought"

In an interview with the great inventor of the telegraph, Samuel F.B. Morse, George Hervey inquired, "Professor Morse, when you were making your experiments at the university, did you ever come to a standstill, not knowing what to do next?" "Oh, yes, more than once." "Then what did you do?" "I've never discussed this with anyone, so the public knows nothing about it. But now that you ask me, I'll tell you frankly I prayed for more light." "And did God give you the wisdom and knowledge you needed?" "Yes, He did," said Morse. "That's why I never felt I deserved the honors that came to me from America and Europe because of the invention associated with my name. I had made a valuable application of the use of electrical power, but it was all through God's help. It wasn't because I was superior to other scientists. When the Lord wanted to bestow this gift on mankind, He had to use someone. I'm just grateful He chose to reveal it to me."

In view of these facts, it's not surprising that the inventor's first message over the telegraph was: "What hath God wrought!"

Good Questions

A little boy came to his father and asked him, "Dad, who made God?" The father, engrossed in the evening paper, responded, "Beats me, son." The little boy would not be put off. "Dad, why is the earth round?" The dad answered, "I don't know, son." The boy played for a minute, then asked, "Dad, is there life on other planets?" The father patiently answered, "Nobody knows the answer to that." Finally the boy asked his father, "Dad, do you mind me asking you all these questions?" The father put down his paper, "Why not at all son," he said, "how else are you going to learn?"

The Beauty of Forgiving Spirit

A mother once came to President Lincoln seeking the pardon of her son, under sentence of death. The result of her pleading was that Lincoln issued a pardon. After leaving him, as she passed through a corridor, she exclaimed to Thaddeus Stevens, who accompanied her, "I knew it was a lie!"

Stevens asked: "What do you refer to?"

She replied with vehemence, "Why, they told me he was an ugly-looking man, but he is the handsomest man I ever saw in my life." (From Little, Historical Lights)

Example Of Human

An honest and hardworking Russian peasant, named Aksenov, left his dear wife and family for a few days to visit a nearby fair. He spent his first overnight at an inn during which a murder was committed. The murderer placed the murder weapon in the sleeping peasant's bag.

The police discovered him that way in the morning. He was stuck in prison for 26 years, surviving on bitter hopes of revenge. One day the real murderer was imprisoned with him and soon charged with an escape attempt. He had been digging a tunnel that Aksenov alone had witnessed. The authorities interrogated the peasant about his crime, granting him at long last his opportunity for revenge, for on the peasant's word his enemy would be flogged almost to death.

Aksenov was asked to bear witness to the crime, and as only Tolstoy can tell the story, instead of jumping at the chance, the grace of God suddenly wells up in the peasant's heart, and he finds the darkness in him has fled, and he is filled with light. He finds himself saying to the officers: "I saw nothing."

That night the guilty criminal makes his way to the peasant's bunk and, sobbing on his knees, begs his forgiveness. And again the light of Christ floods the peasant's heart. "God will forgive you," said he. "Maybe I am a hundred times worse than you." And at these words his heart grew light and the longing for home left him. (Tolstoy)

Learning Forgiveness from a Dog

Sir Walter Scott had difficulty with the idea of "turning the other cheek." But Jesus' words took on special meaning one day when Scott threw a rock at a stray dog to chase it away. His aim was straighter and his delivery stronger than he had intended, for he hit the animal and broke its leg. Instead of running off, the dog limped over to him and licked his hand. Sir Walter never forgot that touching response. He said, "That dog preached the Sermon on the Mount to me as few ministers have ever presented it." Scott said he had not found human beings so ready to forgive their enemies.


When Leonardo da Vinci was painting the "Last Supper," he had an intense, bitter argument with a fellow painter. Leonardo was so enraged that he decided to paint the face of his enemy into the face of Judas. That way the hated painter's face would be preserved for ages in the face of the betraying disciple. When Leonardo finished Judas, everyone easily recognized the face of the painter with whom Leonardo quarreled.

Leonardo continued to work on the painting. But as much as he tried, he could not paint the face of Christ. Something was holding him back.

Leonardo decided his hatred toward his fellow painter was the problem. So he worked through his hatred by repainting Judas' face, replacing the image of his fellow painter with another face. Only then was he able to paint Jesus' face and complete the masterpiece.

"I Never Forgive and I Never Forget"

General Oglethorpe once said to John Wesley, "I never forgive and I never forget." To which Wesley replied, "Then Sir, I hope you never sin." Very apt, for when we reflect on how much God has forgiven us, it makes our grudges against others seem rather petty.

Sacred Stream

Dr. Jacob Chamberlain, an early missionary to India, recalls that while preaching to a group who had come to bathe in the "sacred stream" of the Ganges, a man joined them who had crawled many agonizing miles on his knees and elbows to reach that spot. The poor exhausted soul made his prayer to Gunga, and then slipped into the water but emerged with the same conviction of sin as before. The fear of death still tugged at his heart. Then he heard Chamberlain tell the wonderful story of grace and how Christ died on the cross to rescue needy sinners. With new hope the man staggered to his feet, clasped his hands together, and cried, "Oh, that's what I need! Forgiveness and peace!" The missionary soon led him to Jesus.

Henry Feyerabend writes from Oshawa, where he works as director and speaker for "It is Written" in Canada.