The Day the Rocket Didn’t Fly—A Lesson in Forgiveness

By Chuck Black

Forgiveness costs something

The rocket sat on the kitchen table gleaming in all of its splendid detail. It was my masterpiece. I had honed my perfectionist model building skills for three years and now at the age of thirteen the crown of my model rocket fleet was being displayed for the entire family to admire. The long, white, precisely decaled body with broad fins cradled a small glider that would ride piggy-back during the launch to over one thousand feet, then glide gracefully down to earth mimicking the space shuttle’s re-entry. I had envisioned its maiden voyage a hundred times over the course of its meticulous construction. When I stepped into the living room for a few minutes, the sound of crunching balsa wood and an audible gasp pierced my heart. I jumped back into the kitchen to see my mother holding the broken pieces of my masterpiece. She had started mopping the floor and the back end of the mop handle had crunched down on top of both my glider and the main rocket, cracking balsa fins and crumpling body tubing. My heart sank in pain and my mother looked as if she might cry. She knew what the rocket meant to me. “I’m so sorry…I’m so sorry…please forgive me.” I didn’t want to hear the words at first because I was so crushed. She couldn’t possibly fix it. She didn’t have the skills. There was no way for her to replace or repair it. But in spite of the broken unfixable pieces and the ache in my bosom, I could not bear the pain in her eyes. “I forgive you, Mom. It’s okay…I think I can fix it.”

It costs something to forgive another a debt. It might cost time, money, or perhaps justice itself, but the reward is far greater than the cost. Forgiveness reinstates fellowship, brings peace, creates loyalty, and even restores physical health. With eight people living within the walls of our moderately sized house, there was plenty of opportunity for people to be offended. But the truth is, whether we are at home or out in the world, people offend and are offended…often.

Each of the books in The Knights of Arrethrae series warns of a sin stronghold and teaches a biblical virtue. In Sir Kendrick and the Castle of Bel Lione, Sir Kendrick faces the ultimate challenge of forgiveness by hearing the repentant plea of the one who murdered his family. Though he faced the ultimate test of forgiveness, the range of offenses we face is wide, from a smashed model rocket to abuse of every kind. Not all who offend even ask for forgiveness, which is a requirement according to Luke 17:3-4. Forgiveness is not commanded for someone whose offender is unrepentant, but unless we desire and anticipate being eager to forgive, bitterness and strife will eat up our health and rob us of the joy God intends. I encourage you to pray for a spirit of forgiveness even before the offender considers repentance. You can reap the blessings of forgiveness even if the offender never repents.

Sometimes the offense against us may seem too much to consider forgiveness, but Jesus puts it all into perspective when He gives us a dramatic example in Matthew 18:23-35. In this example, He compares our petty desire for justice with the mercy of a powerful lord. After stating that the angry lord delivered the servant to the tormentors, He ends the parable by saying, “So likewise shall my heavenly Father do also unto you, if ye from your hearts forgive not every one his brother their trespasses.

We ought to take heed at the Lord’s warning and teach our children well in this area. Offering forgiveness is not easy nor is it natural. Our ego demands justice, not forgiveness. For some, this Biblical command is easier than it is for others, but sprinkle the offense with a little anger, and offering forgiveness slips away like mercury through our fingers. It is absolutely paramount that you teach your children how to ask for forgiveness and how to offer forgiveness. The Lord does not mince words in regard to what is at stake, and if we truly love our children, we will teach them this critical biblical virtue. Any time one of our children offended another, we took both children through the complete cycle of asking for and offering forgiveness. “It’s okay” was not used, because it’s not okay, but it is forgivable. Teach your children to say, “Please forgive me,” and “I forgive you.” This simple lesson is powerful and will last a lifetime if done right.

I did fix the rocket, but it never flew quite right. The scars across the fins were a reminder to me that offering forgiveness to heal my mother’s pain was worth it. The scars of our Savior ought to daily remind us of how great a love He has for us—so great that He bore our pain for us. I imagine Him saying to me in my brokenness, “I forgive you. I can fix it.”

“But he was wounded for our transgressions, he was bruised for our iniquities: the chastisement of our peace was upon him; and with his stripes we are healed.” Isaiah 53:5