Tuesday, October 23, 2007

Forgiveness and Grace

Then [Jesus] opened their minds to understand the scriptures, and he said to them, “Thus it is written, that the Messiah is to suffer and to rise from the dead on the third day, and that repentance and forgiveness of sins is to be proclaimed in his name to all nations. – Luke 24:45-47

I am writing to you little children because your sins are forgiven on account of [Jesus's] name. – 1 John 2:12

There is a lot of hurt out there, my brothers and sisters. A lot.

There are families that hurt. While it sounds like a catch phrase, dysfunctional families are a reality. To see your loved ones hurt is bad enough, but to see them do destruction to themselves and others hurts us even more.

There are people who hurt. Dreams are not realized. Poor feelings of self-worth take away our joy. Broken relationships between family and friends become heavy baggage to tote around. Gossipers and busybodies seem to take delight in the misfortune of others. Health concerns and diseases of body and mind make us feel shackled.

We often deal with these things by not dealing with them, but all this does is remind us of our inadequacy, incompleteness, and unworthiness. Yet forgiveness isn’t something we earn or is available only for the perfect – it is for us. Our merit and our worth aren't even dependent on the opinions, grudges, or disdain of others: God created us to be in communion with Him. He claims each of us as his child. He hurts when we hurt. And his forgiveness and grace is available to all.

I met with a man the other day, not a church member, who is terminally ill. He has lived a long life, been through bouts of cancer, and this time has decided to forego treatments and instead let nature take its course. When I complimented him on his faith, he said to me, “God has allowed me to accomplish what I needed to on this earth. For now, I am awaiting further instructions.” I was humbled beyond words.

Augustine once said that we are restless until we find rest in God. I think he's right, and when we do find our rest in God, the baggage of unforgiven sin and the weight of our unwillingness to forgive others are removed. Instead of fearing life (or death), we can embrace it. God is eager to forgive us and our sins, and to share our burdens.

Don’t be afraid to ask God for what He so desperately wants to give us.


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