We had not seen our friends for nearly a year and our family was eagerly anticipating their annual visit to California. They usually stayed with their classmates from college and always found a way to spend quality time with us. On this occasion, my friend suggested we meet for dinner at a restaurant. I agreed and remembered that he had paid for our last dinner and I wanted to return the favor.
As soon as we had ordered, I excused myself and found our server. I handed him my credit card and informed him that I would pay for the dinner. He was accustomed to this request and replied he would take of everything. The dinner was an ebullient affair and we were elated to catch up on each other’s lives during the past year. After dessert, I signaled to our server that I would like the check. To my surprise, the server handed my friend the bill.
“Wait!” I exclaimed. “That’s not right!” I leaped out of my chair and confronted the server. At the same moment, the server grabbed the bill from my friend. “I am so sorry,” the server mumbled. “Your friend also handed his credit card to me and I forgot you had already given me yours.”
“No worries, just make sure you charge my credit card.”
I was so preoccupied with this exchange that I did not notice how the demeanor of my friend had changed. The walk back from the restaurant to their apartment was far chillier than the 60 F evening air. Instead of walking alongside me as he did at the beginning of the evening, he walked a block ahead with his wife. My wife later divulged to me that he was fuming that I paid for the dinner since it was at his invitation that we met. Although we eventually smoothed over our misunderstanding, it was an unpleasant ending to an otherwise festive evening.
Just once, I would like to get through a day, not just for a few hours or minutes, without conflict. Misunderstandings can be so easily magnified into a broken relationship with long periods of hurt and resentment. The Bible records the first instance of the tragic example of Cain.
“Why are you so angry?” the Lord asked Cain. “Why do you look so dejected? You will be accepted if you do what is right. But if you refuse to do what is right, then watch out! Sin is crouching at the door, eager to control you. But you must subdue it and be its master.”
Genesis 4:6-7 (NLT)
Cain did not understand why his sacrifice was not accepted by God. Instead of seeking understanding and clarification, he let his resentment fester, fomenting into a single terrible action and murdering his brother Abel. At any moment, Cain could have chosen to stop the downward spiral, but he did not. We can choose to quickly end the chill and warmly embrace and defuse the situation or we can choose to let our relationships freeze, unable to thaw. I pray that I will not fall prey to the temptation of allowing a misunderstanding to grow into a tragic sin that controls me.
Why is that I cannot get through a single day, hour, or minute without conflict? I need a Savior. I need Jesus Christ.
Love and trust the Lord; seek His will in your life.