Ross Helgeton Faith &Reflection
I grabbed a book in my office yesterday and noticed the name on the inside cover. It was one of several books that had been given to me about 40 years ago by a man who had once been enrolled in Bible college to prepare for ministry. Normally fond memories accompany books that I have been given, but the books that this gentleman gave me – not so.
The man who gave me the books, while in Bible college, fell in love with a fellow student. They were engaged and set a wedding date. However, during the last semester before the wedding, her fiancés best friend began attending the same college. He introduced his friend to his fiancée and a friendship developed between them. She broke the engagement, married the best friend and they entered ministry together a couple of years later. A root of bitterness was planted in the heart of the devastated fiancé…and it became all consuming!
A few years later, the jilted man began attending the church where his former friend and fiancé were now serving as pastor and wife. He cunningly wooed her and they began an illicit relationship that ended both a marriage and a ministry. The formerly bitter and broken-hearted man felt that all of his dreams had come true and he married his college sweetheart as soon as she obtained a divorce. He savoured with delight the revenge that he had wreaked upon his former friend. However, just one year later, his old girlfriend, now his new wife, was diagnosed with malignant cancer and in less than a year she died. His bitterness took fresh and deeper root and grew into something dark and dreadful.
The man I met said that he hated God and most people, but he continued to invite me back. I assume that with bitterness as his only companion, my visits must have given him at least a change of pace. On each visit he would allow me to talk to him about my faith and he would share with me his bitterness. And each time, he would give me a few books. When I protested, he asked me not to deprive him of the pleasure that he derived from bitterly dispensing Christian books which he had once cherished. He also said that if I did not take them they would go into the garbage and that was the clincher for me.
Memories attached to this man’s books are not fond, but sad; sad at how destructive bitterness can be. An oyster takes a grain of sand and turns it into a beautiful pearl. Bitterness is just the opposite – it takes beautiful pearls and turns them into grains of sand.
“See…that no bitter root grows up in you to cause trouble and defile…” (Hebrews 12:15)