Tom and I love the Portland, Oregon area. We had, maybe, 3 or 4 days last winter of cold weather. The trees are lush with many, many vibrant shades of green. Our backyard burst with flowers a full 1 1/2 to 2 months before my flower bed would came to life in Indiana. I love the fact that my daughter can pop over for lunch or that we can celebrate all the family milestones, big and small, with get togethers. The church that we attend is awesome – alive, friendly, giving, reaching out to others, and feeds our soul.
Life is very good.
It wasn’t always so. I had many years that I walked around in pain and loss. Much grace from God, prayers, and hard work later I felt like I was on top of my game. The past was finally, well, in the past.
I came face to face with my past. Last weekend Tom and I attended an event. Tom was in a business meeting but the ladies enjoyed a tea while the men talked business. It was really lovely. The tables were set with creamy ivory linen table cloths with real flowers. Ornate Victorian china and fluted teapots adorned the tables. The soft pinks, yellows, and blues of the china melted into a soft and warm atmosphere. Lemon curd, clotted cream, scones, finger sandwiches, and sweet delicacies were passed by kind women servers.
And then it happened.
Right in the midst of this beauty and refinement I saw one of the people that had torn my world apart – had shattered my heart and caused immeasurable pain to both my daughter and I. They were right there in the room, about 10 feet away. All that past came back in a mournful swoosh and the pain was right there again.
It had taken me months (really years – not God’s fault but me for dragging my feet) to let God work through this horrific event in my life. Many prayer meetings, Bible reading sessions and talks with my pastor and his wife had finally resulted in the fact that I could forgive what had happened. But now today all that hard work was threatened.
I had a choice to make – would I allow all that hurt to surface or would I
Forgive – Again ??
“Get rid of all bitterness, rage and anger, brawling and slander, along with every form of malice. Be kind and compassionate to one another, forgiving each other, just as in Christ God forgave you.” Ephesians 4: 31 & 32 (NIV)
You see forgiveness is much easier to talk about than to put into practice. Not as hard when it is “far away” forgiveness and much harder up close and personal.
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)
But when I’m confronted by the fact that God forgave me sooooo much, far more than I ever could repay, forgiveness becomes a requirement. Not to say that it makes it any easier to do.
I realized that day that forgiveness is an ongoing obligation. Certainly not a one time deal, but something that must be worked on again and again. There is no count of the times I’ve forgiven already in the past or will need to forgive in the future.
Then Peter came to Jesus and asked, “Lord, how many times shall I forgive my brother when he sins against me? Up to seven times? “Jesus answered, “I tell you, not seven times, but seventy-seven times.” Mathew 18:21 & 22a (NIV)
I wish I could say that the need to forgive is behind me but it certainly isn’t. Someone else will cause hurt in my life. I’ll be disappointed by friends or family, and suffer at the hands of others who maybe, don’t even mean to inflict pain and hurt. I might even run across this person again.
But I’ll do the hard work of forgiving again because Jesus died for me when I was unforgiven and unloved. And because it has been said that to cling to resentment is to harbor a thief in your heart. It robs you of your energy, your strength, your peace of mind and, your right standing with God.
So, I forgave that day.
I enjoyed the tea, scones, and beautifully set tables. And I went home with a light heart because I had once again, with God’s precious help, faced my demon and come away the victor !!!!
What hurt in your life do you have to forgive again and again?