Tag Archives: forgiveness

Not Yet

I’ve been out of state and mostly out of touch for several weeks. I participated in a mission of mercy.

Upon my return an over-sized envelope, mailed to me by a close relative, stunned me. Two paragraphs detailed how the person does not “want to associate” with me anymore because, in that person’s opinion, me participating in that undertaking was “wrong”.

A long, long time ago I would have agreed.

Back then the person I had just paused my life to minister to had broken my heart, violated my family and then did everything possible to destroy me. For years afterward, staying close to my sons often took all I had.

 

But here’s the thing:

I didn’t mend my broken heart. I didn’t restore my demolished spirit. I didn’t drive away the demons or recover my life. Nor did my family.

Jesus saved me.

And then Jesus saved the same person who hurt my family and tried to ruin me.

What’s more, Jesus wants to save the person that now hates what I most recently did in His name.

“…And so I discovered that it is not on our forgiveness any more than on our goodness that the world’s healing hinges, but on [Jesus]. When He tells us to love our enemies, He gives along with the command, the love itself.”
― Corrie Ten Boom, The Hiding Place

I understand. If I allow myself I can still feel all the pain. Again and again I prefer to feel how Love wins.

Despite being rejected by a loved one, given the chance to redo the past month, I would do it again.

Had I realized the relative was still bound in the past I would not have mentioned I was away or why.

Not yet.

 

“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 (NIV)

Images courtesy ABSFreePic.com

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Humbly Humane

When summer began Hero, the 18-month-old steer was essentially wild.

One of his first encounters with man was to be roped and his testicles cut off. Back with his mother he likely forgot about his loss that day. He never seemed to forget about the evil ropes of doom and wanted no part of the upright beings at the ends of the ropes.

If he wasn’t already bigger than me I could still easily imagine how he felt, so I respected his space.

Before long he connected the rope creatures with food and water. During the next winter he would come running to the gate at feeding time.

Come spring his mother, “auntie” and “cousin” went away “to live on a farm” leaving him alone in the pasture. Afterwards he gradually became more open to humans.

After hanging around the vegetable garden fence all summer Hero became so comfortable with me he would gingerly nibble from my hand. I came to laugh at how he intimidated me the first time I power-walked the pastures. He pranced along with me, as if coaxing me to frolic with him.

Not long into summer the steer started begging for attention while I groomed the horses. The day Hero literally nosed my arm so I’d brush him too my internal red flags went up.

Hero is not a pet. Cole actually fussed at me for naming him (yeah, he didn’t read that post either). Unlike the horses who summer with us and then return to their people’s pastures for the winter, the steer will relocate to the freezer this year.

For two years I have recited the rule daily: never get attached to the livestock. Even so, something endears me to these bigger beings. I now feel sad when the lonely steer runs to the gate every time he sees me – too much like an 1800-pound puppy.

There were times in my life when I could relate to that steer. People hurt me, separated me from my loved ones and then left me alone and lonely. For a long time I too was very careful of upright beings.

Like the steer and most people I too learned that not all humans will hurt or harm us. Still we must watch for ropes – the things that can bind or hurt us.

Jesus knew about ropes – ignorance, fear, intimidation, greed and plain ol’ meanness. He knew about suffering for someone else’s sakes. With His life He demonstrated the best way to live is to forgive those who hurt us.

I want to use my life like that.

Oh, and thank You, God, that I’m not a steer.

“Do not judge, and you will not be judged. Do not condemn, and you will not be condemned. Forgive, and you will be forgiven… For with the measure you use, it will be measured to you.” Luke 6:37, 38 (NIV)

 

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Tears in Heaven

I am astounded to discover that I either missed something – or I forgot – often.

Initially this worried me. As many times as I have read the Bible, I don’t remember catching the whole meaning of a verse I memorized early on in my walk with Jesus:

For the Lamb at the center of the throne will be their shepherd; ‘he will lead them to springs of living water.

‘And God will wipe away every tear from their eyes.’
Rev 7:17 (NIV)

Emphasis on the remember part of my opening sentence. This got me wondering how many times I’ve parroted the words, “there are no tears in heaven.” I’m not gonna lie, the thought made me shiver a little.

Ahem. It stands to reason that, since “God will wipe away every tear from their eyes, there will be tears – in heaven.”*

So immediately following this profound revelation (or review, whatever) I initially felt a little frightened at the thought of having misled loved ones.

But wait, there’s more:

“…he will swallow up death forever.
The Sovereign Lord will wipe away the tears from all faces;
He will remove his people’s disgrace from all the earth.
The Lord has spoken.”
Isaiah 25:8 (NIV)

Whew! My bad, but thanks to Jesus it’s not on me. Or on Eric Clapton either.

Initially I like the image of heaven without tears. But in heaven God heals each wound once and for all – finally and for evermore.

That’s not to say we won’t all account for our every word and deed. We will – good, not-so-good and bad. I don’t like to admit I have much to be ashamed of and to weep over. Even so, we get to ask forgiveness. What’s more, we don’t have to wait – we can be forgiven now. And then we get heaven! YEAH!!

With such a subjective memory as mine, today I must declare:

“Surely this is our God; we trusted in him, and he saved us. This is the Lord, we trusted in him; let us rejoice and be glad in his salvation.”
Isaiah 25:9 (NIV)

… And God will help me to never forget it!

 

*David Jeremiah, Turning Point, Tribulation Harvest, Part 2 teaching series available on Youtube.

Image courtesy Pixabay

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Run Away Brain

Before I was fully awake I stumbled over a toy that my most recent house guests had left behind.

 

 

Moving forward regardless, even before I prepared the trace amount of caffeine I allow myself, I was fussing and fuming over something else – it doesn’t take much. I’m often amazed how, at my age and with my wealth of experience, even now I can go from quiet tranquility to untamable shrew in 4.0 seconds*.

As happens sometimes, something reminded me of a fragment of the dark, sad past. Today, instead of reminding myself that was then and this is now, and without the little dogs to remind me Someone is always listening, I soon forgot I’m not actually alone here.

Heartbeats later I gave voice to the thoughts blowing through my mind like the gale force winds that uprooted the tallest tree from the yard, and tore away half the roof on the hen house.

Yep, suddenly angry words busted outta me like a runaway train.

Annnd once again I soon came to appreciate another of the advantages of life here in Our Place: as I worked up to a full-blown rage over ancient history Jesus’ warning from Matthew came to mind – hitting me like a board across the face:

“But I tell you that everyone will have to give account on the day of judgment for every empty word they have spoken.”**

Like a muzzle check on a firing range, that advice shut my mouth and reset my reality in a heartbeat.

I no sooner confessed the open sewer line of thoughts I’d spewed into the air, asked forgiveness and then begged God to reverse any evil I caused, than the cottage radiated peace again.

With that, my latte and I found today’s place in Jesus Calling*.

Even now I am astounded by how, from the beginning of infinity God knew this morning was coming. Not only so, He also had His plan in place to comfort and help me – today and forever:

“When you focus on what you don’t have or on situations that displease you, your mind also becomes darkened. … You look for what is wrong and refuse to enjoy life until that is “fixed.”

When you approach Me [Jesus] with thanksgiving, the Light of My Presence pours into you, transforming you through and through…*”  (Genesis 3:2-6; 1 John 1:7 ) Sarah Young

Thank God we can stop run-away brains – restarting from right here and now. Oh, and can we keep early today and the rest of our pasts between Jesus, us and these walls?

Thanks!

“Those who consider themselves religious and yet do not keep a tight rein on their tongues deceive themselves, and their religion is worthless.”

James 1:26 NIV

 

Featured Image courtesy Pixabay

2016 Camaro SS image courtesy of Jalopnik

*(c) 2004 by Sarah Young, Published by Thomas Nelson, Inc. , Nashville, TN, USA

**Matthew 12:36 (NIV)

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Hide and Seek

I’m very careful of myself in public – in fact, leaving the ranch can sometimes be so overwhelming I will avoid it altogether. Leaving the routine, the comfort and safety of the ranch – my hideaway – to face people, to be seen or worse, to be judged can sometimes feel like too much.

‘Fact is, over the years humans hurt me so that occasionally I avoided the species entirely. I’m glad to say those few seasons were short. And the older I get they become farther between.

Truth: I actually enjoy people as much as I adore my feather and fur friends.

Over these long winter nights I came to realize that this reluctance to leave, the instinct to hide is about my secrets:

  • I desperately want to belong
  • Sometimes shame seems to choke me
  • My beloved family is a big, hot mess
  • I’m broken
  • I’m vulnerable

More important than anything else I may feel is what the Bible tells me:

“All y’alls messed up somehow. Ain’t nobody’s perfect. Nobody.” *  Paraphrase mine.

The pivotal point here being All.

Some flaws are more visible than others is all. The strongest, most organized, confident and fashionable people are messed up somehow. That includes me! So my secrets are no more offensive to God than anyone else’s. “All” is everything Jesus took to the cross. All includes every single mistake, ill deed, every bad knee-jerk response, intentional or otherwise, victim and perpetrator. Every. Single. One.

More importantly, “..now there is no condemnation for those who belong to Christ Jesus.”**

So, compared to God’s opinion of me nobody else’s matters. What’s more, I can dismiss my worst feelings and opinions of myself. When God looks at me, all He sees is Jesus. I can now focus on seeing myself the same way.

Sure, I realize this is a process. I’d been seeking out hiding places longer than I can remember. I still have so far to go to get an edge on seeking God’s truth first, but when I make Scripture my focal point and not my fears or feelings the sky’s the limit. My friends can vouch for that.

Do you ever get to feeling weighed down, tired of trying or reluctant to try again? Come on by Our Place and let God’s peace help you.

* “For everyone has sinned; we all fall short of God’s glorious standard. Yet God, in his grace, freely makes us right in his sight. He did this through Christ Jesus when he freed us from the penalty for our sins.’ Romans 3:23, 24 (NLT)

** Romans 8:1 (NLT)

Images (except for chickens) courtesy Pixabay

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Back On Track

roller coaster 3I’m gonna be honest, I began this piece from a posture of pain.

Reflecting upon a recent Sunday morning after a long, restless night. I had gone to a loved one wanting only a moment together. Simply put, I got an emotional kick in the gut instead. With that I felt like giving up on the relationship – again.

I’m usually pretty good at recognizing that I’m not the only human alive that’s confused, afraid or hurting – and I can be hyper-sensitive. That morning, feeling the sting of rejection, I quickly withdrew to get ready for church.

Despite the daunting I’d wrestled with the entire night before, I began feeling a little better in my busyness. I’d waved the offense aside, still not realizing I’d been derailed for some time.

roller coaster 1

I admit, seemingly rude, insensitive behavior, particularly directed at me by my loved ones is my right Achilles’s heel – yeah, I have two. Usually getting over that kind of slight takes me hours of speculation, denial, self-examination, confession, repentance… You get the idea. Still, I try to keep in mind that  “forgive us our debts (and offenses) as we forgive [others]*”  prayer and take the responsibility seriously.

So, without forgiving, putting hurt feelings to rest, there’s no way I could muster the nerve to go into the amazing presence of God and find peace in this crazy world. Getting there begins with prayer – fervent, effectual prayer from a pure heart.

I took a moment to shake it off again and clear my head. I picked up Bob Goff’s book Love Does**. Typically his light, lovely stories bring a smile at the very least and usually a hearty laugh.

Opening to the page where I’d left off earlier, words soon seemed to jump off the page at me:

“When you read the Bible, the people who loved Jesus and followed Him were the ones like me who don’t get invited places. Yet Jesus told His friends they were invited anyway. In fact, He told them that the religious people weren’t the ones who decided who got into heaven and who didn’t. He said the people who followed Him should think of themselves more like the ushers rather than the bouncers, and it would be God who decides who gets in. We’re the ones who simply show people their seats that someone else paid for.”

Bam! With the new perspective of my earlier attitude, having barged, uninvited into my loved one’s space I became humbled. She hadn’t come to me. Though she can own her attitude I realized my reaction to a perceived slight. I compared it to the person I want to be, stopped right there and got to my knees.

Later, during the ride to church I digested the actual glory in the whole scenario. God orchestrated the entire morning, likely the challenge I couldn’t put away the night before, if only to open my eyes to a truth I’d been overlooking:

“I’m more than a loser human, a Jesus fan and a wannabe Christ follower, I’m an usher to heaven’s gates!”

Have mercy.

That morning at church I payed closer attention to the people I see every week:

The friend, a mom who goes out of her way to drive me to church on the days both of my household vehicles are unavailable. This woman has a family to care for, a job and is our Small Group’s journalist. You gotta know she takes some hits. And yet she prepares, sometimes days before to secure my ride.

The friend who unfailingly seeks me out to hug me and share whatever time we have together. Another busy mom and grand mom, she also checks that I have transportation when I need it and she texts me notes of encouragement every few days.

The young grandmother, part of the church leadership team, head of the huge Visual Arts Department that includes the Worship Team. In her position she’s usually under somebody or another’s close scrutiny. Yet this woman always makes a point to say hello to me by name every time she sees me, asking how I’m doing. And she waits for my response.

At home I found a lengthy email from a foreign missionary friend who manages to enjoy the messages I send her in pigeon German, and she faithfully assures me she will pray for me too.

SONY DSC

Maybe I’ve gone over the top. Even so, I feel redeemed – yet again. I actually feel empowered to take my place at the Grand Entrance to heaven’s arena. We bloggers often refer to our roller coaster rides. I am especially delighted to share this one. Arms up, ready to scream for joy as the train creeps over the arch to the next drop and roll.

For the weeks since that Sunday I’ve been prepared for my days. Prayed up, my metaphoric vest neatly pressed, name badge, FORGIVEN, in place, flashlight charged and ready to stand with other believers, to show people the way. There’s a huge difference between feeling like we’re okay and actually feeling wheels rolling on the rails.

It’s good to be back on track.

“So let’s not get tired of doing what is good. At just the right time we will reap a harvest of blessing if we don’t give up.” Galatians 6:9 (NLT)

*The Bible Matthew 6:12 (paraphrase)

**Taken from Love Does by Bob Goff Copyright © 2012 by Bob Goff. Used by permission of Thomas Nelson. www.thomasnelson.com.

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