Forgiveness

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“Bear with each other and forgive one another if any of you has a grievance against someone. Forgive as the Lord forgave you.” – Colossians 3:13

Unforgiveness is a parasite

Like parasitic barnacles

Attaching themselves to a turtle’s shell

Burrowing in

Creating an area ripe for infection

You can say you have forgiven

But like crud infesting the hull of a ship

It does not just go away on its own

It is nursed by remembrance

Feeding off the hurts of the past and the present

Becoming uglier and uglier

Eating away at you

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There are many platitudes about unforgiveness

And some of them quite true

“Like eating poison and expecting the other person to die”

That is probably my favorite

The absurdity of it

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Yet

Pretending as if the offense caused no harm

Is not the answer

“It’s okay” when it is definitely NOT okay

Some wrongs, some abuses, so deep and so painful

That only the reality that God knows the truth

And one day will call to account

Brings comfort

Though God’s grace covers sin

It does not cover it UP

It does not pretend as if it did not happen

It just pays the penalty

For penalty is surely due for some wrongs

Terrible as they are

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For the truth of this

One need look no further than the cross

For Christ would only have had to die

Such a terrible undeserved death

If the horror of sin is as great as it is

“I, even I, am he who blots out
your transgressions, for my own sake,
and remembers your sins no more.” – Isaiah 43:25

And most often it must come

This forgiveness

Without an apology

We could all die waiting for those apologies

Those insights that will never come

Most likely they have forgotten the offense

Or justified it away

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If I want to be more like Jesus

And I do

I must examine my own heart for my own sins

Against others

Providing apology without caveat

Some truth to any criticism

Even if it less than 1 percent.

True enough that the sin nature is always worse than I think it is

Never better

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Oh but how my heart clenches at the thought

Of letting go of the righteous anger

Especially at those who hurt my children

But if God’s Word is to be believed

And it is

I cannot act like the world does

Even in that

I cannot hold onto even justifiable rage

Resentment like a cancer

It only grows unless it is removed

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I have not truly forgiven

Not truly scraped free the barnacles covering my heart

Until I can wish blessing on those who have harmed me

Until I can pray for their good

Give up hoping secretly

That, like Haman,

The gallows they set for me

Would somehow be used on them instead

That they would taste their own medicine

The Psalms are full of references to this desire

For the trap they have laid for me

That my enemy would fall into it instead

“Declare them guilty, O God!
Let their intrigues be their downfall.
Banish them for their many sins,
for they have rebelled against you.” – Psalm 5:10

There are good reasons to cut off relationship

To not give an abuser a chance to abuse again

There are gates that should be closed

Not to be reopened

But that is not an excuse to hang on to the hurt or the anger

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If my heart is to be pure

And I want it to be

I will only know the forgiveness is real

If I do not hope for them the ruin that they brought to me

If I can pray God would grant them wisdom and even joy

Only then will I experience

Freedom

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The freedom of not feeling sorry for myself

The freedom to move forward in friendships

Without fearing a past betrayal will happen again with someone new

The freedom to love and serve others

Undistracted by the hurts of the past

To rest in the same grace

I so desperately cling to

For the wrongs I have done

Both intentional and unintentional

To others

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For he who is without sin

Is delusional

And I want to face in the clear light of day

My own sin and faults

Without being mired down in the sins and faults of others

Which are really between them and the Lord anyway

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For naming the sin in me

And choosing to repent

Naming the sin in them

And choosing to forgive

Doesn’t free them

It frees me

“Repent, then, and turn to God, so that your sins may be wiped out, that times of refreshing may come from the Lord.”  Acts 3:19

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