Jerry and I like to sleep with the windows open. We don't have air conditioning in our part of the house, and the breeze keeps us cool at night. We have become used to the temperatures, but we also like being able to hear the animals at night. Last night, one of the goats, whose pasture is very close to our corner of the house, started making a horrible sound. Knowing it was a distress call, Jerry shined a light out of the window and thought he saw one of the goats with its horns caught in the fence. He got up, reluctantly, and went out to help her. Once he reached the fence, he could see that no one was trapped, but several of the goats were vomiting profusely.
A sick goat is a very alarming thing. Goats do not generally throw up and they have difficulty recovering from dehydration. Suddenly, we remembered that I had thrown our shrub clippings into the goat pasture earlier that afternoon. Frantically, I checked the internet and, as I feared, I found that Azaleas are highly poisonous to goats. They could have actually died from the toxins I had fed them! I knew I should have checked before I threw them in, but I hadn't, and my goats were paying for my mistake.
Thank goodness, there was a remedy online, listed by a veterinarian, and we were able to administer it right away. After several trips outside through the night, treating the goats and checking on them, the morning sun brought tired, but healthy animals. My carelessness had poisoned them, but our urgency and attentiveness, along with prayer had saved them. I hadn't meant to hurt the goats, but the plain truth was - it was my fault.
How many times have I poisoned my relationships in the same way? A careless word or action, neglect or apathy, blame or bitterness. Intentional or not, poison kills. If I am in the wrong, I must correct it! Much like our urgency with the goats, God wants us to be urgent about restoring relationships and righting our wrongs with people. He is so adamant about this issue that he tells us to put down our offerings with Him and go to the person we have offended first. Once we are reconciled, then we can present our gifts to Him. (Matthew 5:23-24)
I am not perfect (no surprise to those who know me well!) I make mistakes. Sometimes my mistakes hurt those I love. Thank God for his loving mercy. I can only pray that those I unintentially wound will be merciful as well.