That damn phone, always rings at the most inconvenient time! You're in a hurry, late for work, over tired, have ten thousand things on your "to do" list - without fail, at times like these the phone rings. What to do, answer or let it ring? Finally, you convince yourself to pick it up.
"Hello," you say with a slight tone of irritation in your voice.
"Is this Sam?" the voice on the other end asks expectantly.
"Yes, this is Sam, who I am speaking to?"
"This is your long lost friend John."
"Which John? I know several by that name," Sam said, wondering by now if the unrecognized voice was some deceitful telemarketer trying to rob him of his time that he needed to spend other than on the phone.
"Sam, you remember me, don't you? I'm your old friend from university days long ago, we graduated in the same class. You remained in Canada and settled into your teaching job in prison. I went overseas as a teacher-missionary at a church-college in Romania. I thought I'd be back in Canada after my three year contract was up. However, 30 years later, here I finally am."
"John! how good to hear from you after all of these years!" Sam now speaking with joyful surprise. "I had lost track of you, didn't know what happened to you."
"Sam, I would really like to see you. I'm back here in the city hospital. Can you come up and visit me? I'm on the third floor, room seven of Compassionate Redeemer Hospital. Can you come today?"
Sam, again a bit surprised at both the location and urgency of his friend John, responded, "Why of course I'll come John. I'll see you in about an hour."
Now in the hospital Sam is sitting on a chair close to John who is laying in bed. They have been reminiscing for almost an hour. Suddenly John abruptly changes the topic.
"Sam," he says with utter solemnity, "will you forgive me for that time when I took all of the credit for that research project we did together in university? Remember I was given an A+ and you were given a C+. That wasn't fair. You lost a scholarship over that and you had to take out a loan. Moreover, you even got rejected for that dream teaching job you had hoped to get because they chose another grad who had solid As. Please forgive me Sam!"
At first a bit of the old hurt surfaced in Sam's heart. However it left almost as quickly as it came. "Of course I forgive you John!" Sam said with conviction. "In the long run, that episode in my life worked out for the better."
"What do you mean?" John asked.
"Well, as the saying goes, when God closes one door, he often opens up another one. That's exactly what happened for me. I thank God that I got that C+, and that so-called "perfect dream job" didn't work out. Instead, after my brother struggling with all of his personal problems and ending up in jail, I would go to visit him there. Eventually, I realised how much they needed teachers in jail. So, I applied for a position, and well, the rest is history. I was blessed with a three-decade teaching job in prison. If I hadn't worked there, who knows whether we'd be having this conversation John. After three decades of prison work, I've learned how important it is to forgive. Forgiveness has transformed the lives of so many prisoners.
"Thank you Sam," John replied with a sense of emotion and relief in his voice. "Now I can die in peace." Later that night, John fell asleep peacefully, never to wake up again.