Friday, 08 May 2020 10:11

A lesson from Bill on forgiveness

Written by  Colin Miller, Farmer's Chaplain
Colin Miller. Colin Miller.

Farmer's Chaplain columnist, Colin Miller on why we should forgive and move on.

Since my last column, the news – both national and international – has been saturated with this pandemic.

I thought I might take a different tack today and offer some different reading. The Easter long-weekend, just past, was celebrated differently than most of us have ever experienced or could have imagined. Far from hanging out for more time off work, many would have been glad to simply have a job to go to! And ANZAC day was the same...so different to normal. 

I will pull a story from my files that aptly illustrates many things; some might call this courage beyond belief, others the triumph of the human spirit. This story comes straight out of one of the horrific concentration camps from WW2. 

As the war ended, rapid medical help came to the camps, then came the arduous task of processing all the POWs and trying to get them home.

One of the young American medics said seeing the POWs and walking through the place where thousands had so cruelly died a little at a time was “the most shattering experience I had yet had … a new kind of horror.” 

They soon noted one of the prisoners looked so out of place they figured he must have arrived just as the war was ending. Because of his long drooping handlebar moustache, the Americans nicknamed this guy “Wild Bill”. 

They noted Bill was in incredibly good shape, his posture erect, his eyes bright, and he seemed to have endless energy ready to help anyone at every request. The compassion he showed to all his fellow prisoners glowed from his face.

When Bill’s turn finally came up for processing and his info came before the Americans, they were totally stunned to learn Bill had actually been in that hellhole for six long years. And he had been treated just the same as all the others. 

Bill proceeded to tell them his story of how the Germans had come to their street in Poland, lined his family up against a wall and shot them; his wife, their two daughters and three little boys. He had begged them to shoot him too so he could die with his family. 

Because he spoke five languages, one being German, they sent him to the camps. Bill went on to tell them he had been a lawyer and had seen what hate could do to people, to their minds and to their bodies. Bill then told them he had a decision to make – to hate or to love. Hate had just murdered the six people most important and precious to him. He said he had made a decision to love.

Bill’s decision to love and forgive was what made him so different; it was what had sustained him through the midst of this living hell. Wow! I call this the power of true forgiveness.

Yes, Easter this year was vastly different. Yet multi-millions around the world recalled afresh that this is not a holiday season to commemorate a rabbit by over-eating chocolate eggs! 

It is actually about the One who brought true forgiveness to our planet. Though unjustly condemned and cruelly put to death, he refused to die bitter and twisted by hate and unforgiveness. 

As he was being crucified, he uttered these timeless words: “Father, forgive them, for they do not know what they do.” Wow again!

Surely the Polish lawyer was right, unforgiveness is a poison; it can slowly kill you from the inside out.

I have had the privilege of walking some folk through some pretty ugly stuff and seen them successfully move on. I would love to hear your story too. God bless. 

• To contact Colin Miller email: This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. 

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