Anyway, the point of this is to say that I finally wound up on YouTube viewing a clip from the early days of television. The clip in question was from a series called Perfect Strangers, a sitcom that aired from 1986 to 1993. The main characters are Larry— played by an actor named Mark Linn-Baker, whom I haven’t heard of since— and Balki—played by Bronson Pinchot. This helps explain how I ended up at this clip after looking at books on gutenberg.org. I’m not sure of all the steps in between, but Bronson Pinchot is now a reader of audiobooks. I love audiobooks, and he’s just about my favorite narrator. And so I must’ve encountered the title of some book that reminded me of something I’d heard Bronson Pinchot read, then decided I needed to see him in the form I was first acquainted with: namely, Balki on Perfect Strangers.
|"Balki, I don't mind sleeping on that |
side of the bed. I mind arguing about
sleeping on that side of the bed!"
It’s only a one-bedroom apartment, however, so Balki has to sleep on the sofa bed in the living room… which sets the stage for the clip I found on YouTube. In this particular episode, Balki has a friend name Gina, whom he knows from his citizenship class. Gina is pregnant, and her husband has to go out of town on business. Balki doesn’t think she should be alone in her condition, so he invites her to stay at his place. Cousin Larry, though young, is very curmudgeonly, but with Balki’s naïve weirdness as his moral compass, he usually ends up doing the right thing. So he lets Gina have the bedroom, which means he has to stay with Balki on the sofa bed. After the requisite silliness over who gets which side of the bed, Balki and Larry finally settle in to sleep. But when Larry turns his head toward Balki, he suddenly finds his nose in the tail-end of a stuffed toy that looks like a sheep.
“What’s in my face?” Larry asks angrily.
“Dimitri,” says Balki. “He always sleeps with me.”
“Not tonight,” says Larry. Then, like a complete jerk, he grabs Dimitri and drops him on the floor.
Balki gets up and kneels by the bedside. “I say my prayers now,” he explains. “God, bless cousin Larry and Gina and the new baby, and please watch over Dimitri, who’s sleeping on the floor for the first time in his whole young life.”
|"What's in my face?"|
“I’m not the one you threw on the floor,” Balki says with tears in his eyes. Which forces Larry to pick up the stuffed sheep, and say, “I’m sorry, Dimitri. Please forgive me.”
So there we have an example from 1980’s television about what Jesus was talking about when he taught us the Lord’s Prayer. Repentance is more than just saying, “God, forgive me.” If we really want to turn our lives around, then we must go to the source.
|"Please watch over Dimitri,
who’s sleeping on the |
floor for the first time in his whole young life.”
The key ingredient here, of course, is the granting of forgiveness. My neighbor also needs the freedom of the gospel, and holding an eternal grudge against me will interfere with her or his own relationship with God. They didn’t ask to get embroiled in this situation, but that’s the nature of life. They still have a choice to make: Hold my sin against me, or forgive me. The former will get in the way of their relationship with God, and the latter will set them on the road to freedom.
|I'm sorry, Dimitri. Please forgive me."|
Today’s psalm is about the bondage of sin and the freedom of forgiveness. It’s mainly about asking God to forgive us. But before we pray it, let us give some thought to those situations that have imprisoned us in the past, and how we might either ask for forgiveness from— or grant forgiveness to—other people in order to approach God for God’s forgiveness.
—©2020 Sam L. Greening, Jr.