Monday, November 23, 2015

The Fight to Forgive

Augustine said you cannot truly pray until you "account yourself desolate in the world." I would argue that this also applies to forgiving others. As my view of myself shifts to encounter and embrace my helplessness before an almighty God, I find that the fight to forgive is one I can engage and win more often. Each morning I pray through the Lord's Prayer and say these words, "forgive us our debts AS WE forgive our debtors." I am asking for the humility to come into the joy of forgiveness. I'm asking for confession to produce an increased confidence and joy in my life. I'm seeking radical forgiveness from God SO THAT I am able to forgive and seek the GOOD of those who have wronged me. This type of forgiveness has shaken me to my core and my pride bows down before it. This is not the natural inclination of man, so I know I'm going to have to fight for it.

I believe God calls us to wade into the pain of our lives- and forgive. I can testify that staying on the shore and pretending like the water doesn't exist leads only to more pain and suffering for yourself and those you love. Numbing, or on the other extreme- raging, passes the pain along like a log gaining momentum when flung into a river. I have read, and I agree, that unless you take your pain to the Cross, it gets passed along. And taking your pain to the Cross hurts. It involves tears and suffering and intense pain. But it is the path to God. He loves the humble of heart and He is a King of Forgiveness.

"Sometimes forgiveness involves going back and reliving histories again and again until I'm able to release all wrongs wrought by the frail humanity of others. I'm called to relive the pain, master it, forgive it all. The act of true, Christ-based forgiveness is an extension of love. It is seeing the accuser as a human, as one who acted from his own broken understanding of the world, who just did the best he knew how. True, Godward forgiveness is the extension of unmitigated grace, the adoption of the prayerful hope that our enemies might receive no suffering from their imputation of suffering; it is the hope that they find a better hope." (from the book Coming Clean.

How ironic that the best medicine for the pain is to turn and extend the forgiveness of Christ! To release all hope for a better past and accept what was. To bend my will around the truth, around Reality. The fight to forgive is a letting go, followed by another and another. And I must learn to keep at it.

Holy Father, keep me low and humble and grant me grace to forgive and heal. Let the pain end at the Cross. Give those in my life grace to forgive me and to bear with my weaknesses.

Saturday, November 14, 2015

A Redeemed Life

A few weeks ago at church, one of the pastors gave a beautiful sermon about redemption in Christ. She was talking about Hebrews 9:11-15 and also drew from Leviticus 16 concerning the Day of Atonement in the Old Testament.

So way back in the day, once a year, the high priest would cast lots over two goats- one to the Lord and one that "got away." One was sacrificed for the sins of the people- issuing them forgiveness. The other made the people clean. They would confess their sins over the goat and then lead him out of the camp and set him free. A few key points she made were that 1- forgiveness can be bestowed whether you deserve it or not, receive it or not, or have any intention of changing, and 2-in order for change to happen, you have to name and own your sin. The latter reminds me of Brennan Manning's "you cannot heal that which you deny" statement.

Full redemption involves death and life. Jesus atoned for our sin through death. But three days later he rose again. He lived to carry our sins away. Now he ever lives to take our sins into the presence of the Father, and in the Father's hands, our sin can become something new and life-giving. It can be redeemed.

Jesus lived and died to rescue us from the part of ourselves we can't take hold of. He carries it to the Father, redeems it, and makes the disordered parts of us new. He frees us to live an obedient life full of "living" works. When the work that we do lives- that is, it bears fruit-, we are worshiping.

Lord Jesus, let my work live. Thank you for guaranteeing that it can.

Friday, June 17, 2011

Dear Zandy

Dear Zandy,

Last night we rocked and you smelled like sticky banana and white powder. You laid head on chest, jerked back, smiled. You stuck pudgy finger up my nose. We laughed. You again laid head on chest, just for a moment. Rearing back, like you always do, you stretched your neck long, eager and waiting, and my lips kissed and tickled you. We laughed. Your head again rested on me, and we rocked. You found a lion on quilt behind me and made soft roar. We laughed. I wondered if this was too much fun before bed, but I laid you down and you smiled. Content. Your cup was filled and I left your room. Eager for tomorrow.


Thursday, April 21, 2011

The Garden and the Cross

Do you know what kills pride?
Do you know what melts hearts?
I do.
Do you know what can make a hard soul weep?
Do you know what can make the orphan sing?
I do.
Look upon the Christ who came.
A wee babe - humbled in the flesh of humanity.
Look upon the Christ who wept bitter tears,
served prideful men, washed ugly feet,
bled perfect blood and uttered not a single
word of complaint.
Do you know what lifts my head and makes me feel
the love of God?
Look upon the Christ. Yes, fix your eyes upon the
garden and the cross.
Do you know my answer when tragedy breaks hearts
and darkest clouds are overhead?
Look upon the Christ. Just look upon my Christ.

Friday, February 4, 2011

Martin Luther on Parenthood

Now observe that when that clever harlot, our natural reason . . . , takes a look at married life, she turns up her nose and says, “Alas, must I rock the baby, wash its diapers, make its bed, smell its stench, stay up nights with it, take care of it when it cries, heal its rashes and sores. . . ?” [LW 45:39]

What then does Christian faith say to this? It opens its eyes, looks upon all these insignificant, distasteful, and despised duties in the Spirit, and is aware that they are all adorned with divine approval as with the costliest gold and jewels. It says, O God, because I am certain that thou hast created me as a man and hast from my body begotten this child, I also know for a certainty that it meets with thy perfect pleasure. I confess to thee that I am not worthy to rock the little babe or wash its diapers, or to be entrusted with the care of the child and its mother. How is it that I, without any merit, have come to this distinction of being certain that I am serving thy creature and thy most precious will? O how gladly will I do so, though the duties should be even more insignificant and despised. Neither frost nor heat, neither drudgery nor labor, will distress or dissuade me, for I am certain that it is thus pleasing in thy sight. . . . God, with all his angels and creatures is smiling—not because the father is washing diapers, but because he is doing so in Christian faith.[LW 45:39-40]