Boomerang Giver

I grew up hearing the expression “Indian Giver” which makes really no sense.

First, it makes no sense because the “Indians” are the Native-Americans, who Christopher Columbus mistakenly thought were from India and somehow stuck for hundreds of years.  That would be like calling me a Malaysian.  It makes no sense.

Second, an “Indian Giver” is somebody who gives a gift and takes it back.  I don’t know much on the history of how this term got started, nor do I want to, because it is utterly ridiculous in the face of the fact that the settlers who arrived in America eventually grabbed the land out from under the Native-Americans and forced them on tiny settlements (compared to the size of America) as if this would somehow make things right, a little like taking a beautiful mustang out of the wilderness, placing them in a cage, and calling it fair-and-square, except that the injustice of human beings robbed of their land, prejudiced against, and mistreated is immeasurably worse in God’s eyes.

So when I am talking about somebody who gives something and takes it back, I am going to call them a Boomerang Giver.

Boomerang Givers are all around us.  You can really see Boomerang Giving in children, but that’s only where it starts.  Children are notorious for capriciously giving something away and soon after wanting (or demanding) it back.  If I had a dollar for every time I knew of a little girl giving jewelry away and then wanting it back, I could shop for jewelry of my own.

And then there are the Boomerang Givers who grow up to be adults.  They give something with the expectation that said item will be used in said way, and if it is not, they want it back.

But all we’re talking about here is stuff.  If my mom reclaimed the TV she gave me a few years back, I wouldn’t be happy about it, but I wouldn’t be hurt for the rest of my life.  After all, there is such a thing as Best Buy.

Boomerang Givers know how to end a friendship, but, up until now, they’ve just been aggravating.

But what about Boomerang Givers who take back immaterial gifts?

What about Boomerang Givers who take back love they’ve given a person, or the faith they put in that person, or the pride they felt (how proud they were of that person), or the affection they had?  That really hurts.  That can’t be replaced with a trip to Best Buy.

But there’s one thing that can be taken back that is probably the worst of all.

Forgiveness.

There is probably nothing in the world so cruel for the Boomerang Giver to do as to take back forgiveness.

And yet, it is probably the very easiest thing to take back.

The Boomerang Givers gives (pretends to gives, or really thinks (s)he’s giving) forgiveness.  Usually it’s something like throwing out candy in a parade.  The Boomerang Giver tosses out forgiveness to a usually wildly thankful recipient.

That’s how it starts.

It starts with careless, dumb forgiveness.  Forgiveness that’s all about feelings and appearance and looking good at the right moment.

But later, when the moment wears off, and it’s suddenly not gorgeous to be the forgiver anymore . . .

The Boomerang Giver steals it back.

It started out so nice, and it ends so bitter.

Usually, the Boomerang Giver doesn’t grab it back all at once.  Rather, (s)he slowly reels it in, piece by piece.  It is so easy, so gradual.  It starts with looks, innuendo, gentle reminders of the past, hinting that all has not been forgotten . . . and over time it turns into an all-out war to seize every last drop of forgiveness back.

Forgiveness is liquid, and by taking it back, the Boomerang Giver spills it all over the ground.  And it is a hard thing to know what to do with it after that.

The Bible tells us that forgiveness was bought with the blood of Christ.  So what happens with the Boomerang Giver is it’s like they’re giving the blood of Christ to cover forgiveness and then taking it back.

This is why boomerang giving is such an abomination to God, and why there are so many warnings in the Bible about it.

But how do I know so much about Boomerang Givers?

Because I have been one.

I can think of few things so blasphemous to God . . . or so easy, easy, easy.  When I look at it, I cannot believe I have treated the blood of Christ with such contempt, or that I could be the very servant who, after having been pardoned from billions of dollars of debt, strangles the life out of a friend for owing me a couple cents.

When you realize you’ve been a Boomerang Giver, you are filled with a very distinct kind of despair.  How, after all, do you re-give forgiveness that you yourself have ruined?

Well, you don’t, I think.  I believe, at the first forgiveness, the act is forgiven, because I don’t believe the blood of Jesus can be taken back.  In a flip-around, though, it is now the Boomerang Giver who needs forgiveness.

There are all kinds of problems, all kinds of circumstances in this world, and if you’ve ever been a Boomerang Giver like me, it could be impossible for you to ever receive forgiveness back from the person you tried to destroy.  The person might be unwilling, or untraceable, or dead.  So what does that mean?  What can you do?

Jesus tells us something very important about Himself through the book of Hebrews.  He tells us that He is our High Priest.  That can be hard to understand in today’s world, but what that really means is He is like the Supreme Court: He is the highest authority of condemnation or forgiveness.  There is no going over His head for appeals on either side.  So what that means is, when we don’t receive forgiveness from someone who we desperately must receive forgiveness from, we can go to Him, and He is able to forgive us, even if that person isn’t able or willing.  That’s possible because Jesus is the leveler of all sin.  He died for everyone’s sin at the cross, and, since everyone sins, no one is in a position above anyone else.  Jesus holds all the debts.  Whether you think you owe $100 or a $1,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000000,000, the point is that you owe to Jesus.  He has paid everything.  And because He’s paid everything, He has the right to forgive the sin of anyone He chooses, regardless of how much or how little they owe.

Even boomerang giving can be forgiven . . . if you don’t wait until it is too late.

Seek Him right now.

So if the Son sets you free, you will be absolutely free. (John 8:36, GW)

This blog is dedicated to my mom, who is no boomerang forgiver.  Thank you for showing me how to forgive others, Mom.

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Photograph by Paleontour, profile on http://www.flickr.com/people/paleontour/

Photograph is under Creative Commons License.

See Copyright Page for Bible translation information.

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My ship

It is not my feelings that steer my ship but my will.

And I have given my will to God.

In the words of Joshua:

“I am at your command . . . What do you want your servant to do?” (from Joshua 5:14, NLT)

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Photograph by Tommi Laukkanen, profile on http://www.flickr.com/people/tlaukkanen/

Photograph is under Creative Commons License.

See Copyright Page for Bible translation information.

If there’s no wall there . . .

Underdog arrived on the television screen in 1964. My dad would have been 14. "Dad, why were you still watching cartoons when you were 14?" This is definitely something I'm going to have to give him a hard time about in Heaven.

My dad played cartoon characters with me, and one of his best voices was Underdog.  He had this routine, and I don’t think it came from Underdog at all.  I don’t know where he got it from.

Dad would be Underdog, and the criminals Riff-Raff and Joe would blow up the bank Underdog was visiting.  Somehow, the bank would blow up so that there were no walls but the roof stayed up.

Dad had watched a lot of cartoons as a kid (and with me).

Anyway, as Underdog, he’d always be trying to figure this unusual predicament out.  He’d say, “Wait a minute.  If there’s no wall here . .”

And my role would be to say something like, “Yes.”

” . . . . .And there’s no wall over there . . . . .”

“Yes.”

“. . . . . And there’s no wall there . . . . .”

“Yes.”

“. . . . . . . . . And there’s no wall over there, either . . . . . . . . . ”

“That’s right.”

“But then . . if there’s no wall over there, and there’s no wall over there, and there’s no wall over there or there either . . . what is keeping the ceiling from falling down?”

And then of course Dad would make crashing sound effects and shake me.  He was a good motion simulator all by himself.

That was one of Dad’s favorite jokes, because it was just such an outrageous proposal that somebody could stand in a wall-less room and have to concentrate to figure out what was going to happen.

I wonder, though, if that was really so outrageous.  There are so many concepts in our world today that seem somehow to be hovering above our heads with no walls to hold them up anymore–our economy for example, or the value of life.

And for a lot of people, Christianity would be on that list.  Christianity, for some people, has little or nothing to do with the Bible, little or nothing to do with following Christ, little or nothing to do with forgiveness of sin, and little or nothing to do with an all-powerful God who is the Master and sole decider on who goes into Heaven for all eternity and who doesn’t.

But when the walls are gone . . . what is holding up the ceiling–salvation from Hell?

Absolutely nothing.

“If anyone would come after me, let him deny himself and take up his cross and follow me.  For whoever would save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life for my sake will find it.” (Matthew 16:24b, ESV)

This is the message we have heard from him and proclaim to you, that God is light, and in him is no darkness at all. If we say we have fellowship with him while we walk in darkness, we lie and do not practice the truth. But if we walk in the light, as he is in the light, we have fellowship with one another, and the blood of Jesus his Son cleanses us from all sin. If we say we have no sin, we deceive ourselves, and the truth is not in us. If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness. If we say we have not sinned, we make him a liar, and his word is not in us. (1 John 1:5-10, ESV)

Anyone who wants to be my disciple must follow me, because my servants must be where I am. (John 12:26, NLT)

God saved you by his grace when you believed. And you can’t take credit for this; it is a gift from God. Salvation is not a reward for the good things we have done, so none of us can boast about it. For we are God’s masterpiece. He has created us anew in Christ Jesus, so we can do the good things he planned for us long ago. (Ephesians 2:8-10, NLT)

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Photograph by Curtis Palmer, profile on http://www.flickr.com/people/techbirmingham/

Photograph is under Creative Commons License.

See Copyright Page for Bible translation information.