Saturday and Sunday totally humbled and drained me.
But I was also reminded why I do what I do (apart from calling!).
Saturday afternoon was spent in small group time in my seminary class (@GCTS). We were asked to share our previously written ‘spiritual narratives.’ Two folks shared Saturday, and the rest of us will share next time we meet.
I was stunned. Stunned, saddened, shocked, you name it. The painful stories of unspeakable acts of abuse that were shared by BOTH members were unexpected, and my heart was actually hurting.
And yet….and yet…
They both spoke of the healing, the deliverance, the HOPE that they both have in the knowledge that Christ has brought them through the pain. And here’s the kicker—they both have been able to forgive those who inflicted this pain upon them.
How is that possible?
As fate would have it (?!), my sermon yesterday was focused on Matthew 6:7-15. We are all familiar with Jesus’ words teaching us how to pray…but we normally don’t go on and read verses 14-15. “For if you forgive men when they sin against you, your heavenly Father will also forgive you. But if you do not forgive men their sins, your Father will not forgive your sins” (NIV).
But that seems to be putting the cart before the horse; HOW do we forgive? We know we are commanded to do so, but HOW do we do it? This gets a little tougher…
A forgiven people are a forgiving people.
When we fully and totally and completely accept the Gospel message, with the centrality of Christ crucified, we acknowledge that we have been forgiven. Jesus died on the cross long before we got our acts together. We are not worthy, but we have indeed been forgiven. And we can freely forgive.
This is not easy stuff, to be sure. But there is hope for us to rid ourselves of the spirit of unforgiveness, which quickly leads to a poisonous spirit of bitterness. But you know all that…
Knowing the pain and suffering and plain old baggage that people carry with them every single day is why I stand in God’s house and boldly proclaim the Good News. Every week, week after week. There IS hope. There IS a life without bitterness. There IS a life of peace available. My life verse is John 10:10, the abundant life verse.
What verse has gotten you through tough times?