The wellspring of wisdom is a flowing brook. - Proverbs 18:4b

The wellspring of wisdom is a flowing brook. - Proverbs 18:4b

Thursday, February 17, 2011

Was Toomer's Corner Really Poisoned?

He can poison my land.
He can poison my trees.
Heck, he can even poison my lemonade!

But he can’t poison my heart…and that is where the real Toomer’s Corner is…for me and for all of my Auburn family.

We all hold certain ideas, things, people, places, and memories very close to our hearts. For many reasons and many generations, Toomer’s Corner is one of those “possessions” for me, as it is for so many others. How we react when those belongings are trod upon says a lot about us. “Keep your heart with all diligence, for out of it spring the issues of life, “ is the exhortation from the Book of Proverbs. But how, exactly, do we do that?

I once heard someone say that unforgiveness was like drinking poison and hoping the other person dies. Applied to this situation, I have decided that I must forgive this act of natural poisoning or allow the spiritual poison to enter my own heart, which turns to bitterness, resentment, and unforgiveness. The choice is mine.

Forgiveness isn’t acting like it didn’t happen or that it wasn’t that big of a deal, or even pretending that it wasn’t wrong and didn’t hurt. In fact, I think anger and mourning are appropriate responses to such a careless and mean-spirited act. Paul doesn’t tell us not to be angry, but rather not to sin in our anger (Eph. 4:26). But what does that look like? How do we keep the sun from setting on our wrath so that bitterness never sends its poison to the root?

Forgiveness is an accounting term. When we forgive a debt, we simply wipe the slate clean. The indebted person is no longer obliged; instead, he is free and unencumbered to move on without further obligation. It is the choice of the person who holds the debt whether or not they will forgive the indebted one. I get excited at the thought that my bank might one day get a hold of this concept with me!

We see our perfect example of forgiveness in the person of Jesus Christ. As His broken body hung from that tree that was so full of poison and hate, He uttered three words – “It is finished!” Actually, the Greek New Testament uses “tetelestai,” which believe it or not, is an accounting term. It was the word that was stamped across a debt after it had been paid. It means PAID IN FULL!

Jesus suffered the full punishment in His body that was due to us. He paid the price and He paid it in full. It was a big deal, it hurt, it was real, but He chose it anyway. And in choosing, He opened a door for us to be reconciled to a Holy God. Furthermore, by His indwelling Spirit, we now can choose to walk by His life and walk out that same forgiveness to those around us. Impossible with man, but possible with God!

For me, as an Auburn man and a follower of Christ, the choice is simple. Not easy by any stretch, but simple. I will let him that did this offense off my hook. I do it mourning a huge loss, angry, heartbroken, and confused, but I make the choice that the poison stops where it is.

Did Toomer’s Corner get poisoned? Not mine…it’s being kept with all diligence.


  1. I changed from a generic "they" in the original post to a more concrete "he" to reflect the actions of the one responsible for the offense. It was not my intent by using "they" to indicate I thought a group of people were behind it or even condoned it. Sorry for any heartburn!

  2. In this day of home grown idolatries - whether they be crimson and white or orange and blue - we all need to stop and examine ourselves and our reactions to this senseless act of vandalism and destruction of public property.

    We are blessed to have in our state, at the very least, two great institutions which have influence far beyond our borders and draws national attention to us for better or for worse. What makes them great are the people who consistently express and demonstrate the high values these institutions embody.

    This very pattern of greatness is what tends to attract hangers-on and wanna-be's who really don't grasp the concept that rivalry is good only so long as it pushes us to further greatness and leads us to respect our rival and the role he plays in making us strain to better ourselves.

    This was not an act worthy of that rivalry and by that very fact disqualifies the perpetrator as a fan. This evil does nothing to make us better if we allow it poison our attitudes or deform the rivalry into some sort of destructive family feud where, like the Capulets and the Montagues, all the good things in this competition end up dead and lifeless.

    The national attention this has received should shock us back to reality and remind us of the rare history we have been part of the past two years - two great universities, two national champion performances and all the hard work that went into those accomplishments. One senseless act of misguided vandalism surely can not poison all that unless we faithful fans become short-sighted and allow it to.

    Like my good friend Bart, I will not allow it to in my life.

  3. Thanks Blake! Good thoughts. Have you seen where Tide for Toomer's on Facebook has raise over $32,000 so far. That makes me want to yell Roll Tide! ;-)

  4. Bart,

    As an Alabama fan, I am saddened, appalled, angry, and just flat mad that a person would do this at all. Not that it is AL or AU but it is senseless cruel and painful. To cause this amount of pain for no reason shows a true lack of common curtesy for your fellow man.

    As a believer in Christ, I forgive him, but I hold him to the law and trust our God given justice system to punish him accordingly.

    I also believe that where there is prayer there is hope. I hope and ask God to heal the trees. He created them surely as He created me. Healing is nothing to him. Just a word spoken and an action that happens. Thankfully He is all powerful.

    Allison Bennett Tofflemire

  5. Allison,
    Thanks for the thoughts. All of my Bama fans are appalled at this senseless act. I even had the thought that I would like for him to get a UA grad for the judge that sentences him. It would be very unlikely a Bama judge would go easy on him!

    And I'm praying for the trees as well! The Lord has healed me before; I know he can do the same for the oaks.