“Forgive us our debts, as we also have forgiven our debtors.”
Because we were teenagers, my three friends and I sat on the light-brown and golden-speckled shag floor. About ten other ladies assembled in a rough circle around us, chatting with one another and sipping their tea or coffee while seated on padded folding chairs, on a recliner, and on the forest-green sofa.
Marjorie, close to my grandmother’s age, wore a warm smile as she reclined in her burnt-orange and dark brown chair in the middle, touching her frayed Bible that lay open on the coffee table. Her hair, dyed in a soft shade of auburn, held tight together in a neat arrangement. Her dress, tasteful and tidy like the rest of her home, was ironed and modest.
Friday night had arrived, and along with it, the Bible study in Marjorie’s basement that my high school friends and I eagerly anticipated every week. New in our Christian faith, we were hungry to learn all that we could about God. We had so many questions.
On the short coffee table beside Marjorie stood a yellow, ceramic cookie jar Instead of putting cookies inside, we scribbled prayers on white slips of paper and dropped them in. They now lined the bottom and sides, growing in depth every Friday evening.
As teenagers soon to graduate high school, we felt an especially wide variety of deep concerns that needed God’s personal attention. Marjorie promised that every day she laid her hand upon this jar and asked God in faith to read and answer every request in His way and in His time. She knew, and we had no doubt either, that God would do so.
As a speaker at Aglow and an occasional guest on The 700 Club, Marjorie Horton was full of interesting stories to tell. Her specific call to ministry, she felt, was to share the message of how God forgave us our great debt so, in turn, we needed to forgive each other, and also to pray for God’s physical healing in our lives. Marjorie had seen many exciting personal examples from many years of witnessing her and others’ answered prayers.
Once, when I least expected it, as I was headed out the door for the night with my friends, Marjorie stopped me with her words and said, “Janice, what are you going to do?” She looked directly into my hazel eyes with her brown ones as she stood there when I turned around, and she waited for me to reply.
“What?” I asked her, both surprised and delighted that she had singled me out from where I stood by the stairs, getting ready to leave.
“What will you do when somebody hurts you? I mean, when somebody really hurts you?” she questioned.
“I’m going to forgive them, Marjorie. I promise,” I said, returning her gaze.
She had taught me this lesson over and over again from the Bible, and I meant the words that I said. It made perfect sense after the weeks of study: God forgave me, and I must forgive others.
Marjorie planted and watered a tiny seed of truth during that senior year of my high school career, and it took root in my heart.
I had made a vow that would be tested.
I had made a promise that I would need God’s help to keep.
Excerpt from The Forgiveness Workbook, by Janice Porter Lynch 2013