Far from perfect


Image

I have no idea why some things happen to me. I do know how they make me feel. In life I try to do the right thing. Perhaps I try a little too hard? Or, maybe I think I’ve got it figured out? Maybe a little bit of self-righteousness creeps in and pride comes before a fall? I can’t really say why it happens. But, suddenly, I blow it, BIG TIME.

I feel shame. There’s a painful knot in my gut. My mind is filled with ridicule. How could I do this? What was I thinking? How can I possibly make it right? Now what? I’ve ruined everything!

I try to make things better, say the right words, apologize, rectify, promise not to do it again… but I just can’t fix it. I can’t rewind the tape and erase my words, my actions, my inaction. Even if the one I hurt forgives me, still I feel condemned. And the situation wraps itself around me in a strangle hold. It’s all I can think of. On and on and on…

FULL STOP! I know a momentary lack of judgement, a word misspoken, or a big ugly mistake, is not the measure of a life. I know there’s more going on when the echos in my head are mean spirited, cruel, cutting, and condemning. I am well aware of a mortal enemy, and his particular way of trying to get at me where it hurts most. He gets personal every time.

So I bring myself and my mistake and my guilt here;

God, please forgive me for what I did, for what I said. Forgive me for hurting one of your kids. Thank you for seeing me as clean and forgiven. Help me to move beyond this. Protect me from the darkness that would surround me and keep me down. Protect me from the evil one who would destroy me. God, fill me with your peace about this situation. Burn a deeper compassion/empathy/grace for others because of my mistake and your forgiveness. Then put everything in it’s rightful place, and allow me to move into your freedom.

And then, I’m done with it. Thank you God, it is done.

SDG, Lesley-Anne

Good Friday 2011


Grace Redeemed

Sleep eludes me.
My spirit engulfed by guilt, grief and loss,
I rise before dawn
and walk to the garden alone,
seeking solace,
seeking peace.

The garden is cool, and the sweet scent of jasmine hangs in the air.
I seek out a quiet place,
and lose myself in thoughts of you.
Your words, your touch, your eyes.
I don’t know if I can carry on alone.

The events of the past week play out in my mind.
From joyous celebration to sudden death.
And I,
weak willed bystander,
fair weather friend,
watched from the sidelines, powerless to help you.

I fall to my knees and pray for absolution.

I feel a presence before I hear a sound.
A stranger is here, standing close beside me.
“Who are you?  What do you want?”, I ask through my tears.

A long moment’s silence and then he speaks.
He speaks my name.

I look up in confusion.
Is this someone’s cruel trick, or a ghost?
He should be dead in the grave,
but there is no denying the voice;
His sweet voice.

I rise to my feet, and look
into the eyes of my beloved.
He touches my cheek with warm fingers,
forgiveness in his smile.

Grace restored, I enter his embrace.
And then, with the lightness of burdens lifted
I turn, laughing with delight, and run to tell the others.

Lesley-Anne Evans, 2009

Sunday Soliloquy


Lanckorońska as a child, with her father

Image via Wikipedia

The Nature of things

Breathing isn’t something I accomplish by my own effort
No. Breathing is hard wired, natural, subliminal, subconscious, like
sneezing
or sighing,
or desiring to leave a lasting mark,
something to echo when I’m gone.

There are things that require tenacity, that fight against
what comes naturally, and that, my friend, is the
straw that’s breaking.
The ache for making a change for the better eludes and
deludes me into thinking
it’s up to me to buckle down and
try harder, to strive with more deliberate intent,
To repent.

Take for instance
forgiveness of things, like
a sideways look, or a word unspoken, or a birthday forgotten, or a violation
of my body, or a crime
like taking the life of what’s mine, or a lie
told in the form of a story or a prayer
that’s clearly crossing the line.
Contrary to what I would like to think, or what I’m being told,
I can’t make myself forgive.
I can’t close my eyes, concentrate harder and presto, forgiveness
comes like a blessed dove, and makes beauty of my broken bits.
No, the hit hurts and the blood squirts red
and I need more than a King James bandage to
fix this. ‘nuff said.

Or, while we’re talking about expectations
there’s Sacrifice and Surrender, a pair married for years, and still
making it work despite their differences.
While the world screams, ‘self-actualize’ and ‘to thine on self be true,’
these two
quietly stand, hand-in-hand,
watching, suggesting
submission brings freedom and life,
contrary to the strife of opinions on everything
every little decision that must be
made and played out, all things being equal.
No. I can’t by my own willpower choose these.

And Rest, well
that’s another idea I respect, but
for the life of me can’t get around to it, yet. So many other things to
accomplish and prove my own worth, while
my to do list is longing just to be still
and know that someone else will
pry the steering wheel from my sticky fingers,
take back the waste,
redeem the
trivial Facebook posts
twittering reality shows
and mid-winter naps.

Human nature being what it is, real life being what it is
it’s contrary. Preposterous, this
Kingdom upside down thought
that Sunday morning ideals
can root in
and stick ‘til Thursday.

And while I rant and rave
on things I don’t have the capacity to understand, nor
the power to change,
He waits for me to be still
and listen.

Lesley-Anne Evans
January 2011

Poetry Friday006


I’ve got relationships on the brain at the moment… complicated, fickle, and utterly transcendent as they are.  So I’ve dug up some poems that echo with the universal experience of living with and among other humans. Enjoy.


Words 1

Today
I have grown weary of utterances
both yours and mine
spoken, heard, yet
not sinking in
words ripple out to
the horizon
… gone…

Yesterday’s words return like echoes across
a darkly organic lake
alive with possibilities of leaping trout
and pan fried filets for supper

The Day After

He drove you to the airport, came home,
sat on the couch, looked into my eyes, and said
“Thank you for everything”.

I had to wonder if I had done anything at all
other than hold my tongue at the appropriate moment,
serve another coffee, another hot supper,
engage in another verbal volley to offset your negative remarks,
or say ‘uh-huh’ in response to your rhetorical babbling.
Did I really do anything?

OK, I did stifle resentment and disbelief just below the surface,
like when I dressed for Christmas dinner, my vision of ‘festive femininity’,
and was greeted with your, “Are you going somewhere?”
rather than an affirmation or even a small compliment, man to woman.
“Jeez! Did you just fricken say that?” I thought, but didn’t voice,
instead letting the hurt pool in my eyes while
I mashed potatoes, basted the fowl one last time in 350 degree hot oil.
Did you have an inkling of what constricted my heart —
the desire to lash out, wound you as deeply as you wounded me?
And there were times when I did… sort of. Did you hear that bit of sarcasm when
I let it leak? But that would take some emotional intelligence on your part.

So no, I don’t feel like I deserve any thanks —
nor do I want any.
I’d rather take a stiff chalk brush and wipe your most recent scribblings
from the blackboard of my familial life.

By now your plane has deposited you far enough away.
Here I am searching for normal,
…the day after.

Wonder

In my ordinary life:  divine favour.

How your dark lashes veil a sure and tested sounding
And, how loon crying, echoes the call of dawn on Okanagan Lake.

How a breath of Claire’s freshly washed hair somehow expands my lungs
And, how my lips feel, against your unshaven cheek.

How the backyard lilac opening, diffuses a heady spring
And, summer breaks, under my tongue, with chocolate bits of a dipped DQ cone.

And the way I feel,
stepping wet from the shower, into your waiting eyes.

It was personal, and it still is.


John 19 (NIV)

Jesus Sentenced to be Crucified

1Then Pilate took Jesus and had him flogged. 2The soldiers twisted together a crown of thorns and put it on his head. They clothed him in a purple robe 3and went up to him again and again, saying, “Hail, king of the Jews!” And they struck him in the face.

4Once more Pilate came out and said to the Jews, “Look, I am bringing him out to you to let you know that I find no basis for a charge against him.” 5When Jesus came out wearing the crown of thorns and the purple robe, Pilate said to them, “Here is the man!”

6As soon as the chief priests and their officials saw him, they shouted, “Crucify! Crucify!”
But Pilate answered, “You take him and crucify him. As for me, I find no basis for a charge against him.”

7The Jews insisted, “We have a law, and according to that law he must die, because he claimed to be the Son of God.”

8When Pilate heard this, he was even more afraid, 9and he went back inside the palace. “Where do you come from?” he asked Jesus, but Jesus gave him no answer. 10“Do you refuse to speak to me?” Pilate said. “Don’t you realize I have power either to free you or to crucify you?”

11Jesus answered, “You would have no power over me if it were not given to you from above. Therefore the one who handed me over to you is guilty of a greater sin.”

12From then on, Pilate tried to set Jesus free, but the Jews kept shouting, “If you let this man go, you are no friend of Caesar. Anyone who claims to be a king opposes Caesar.”

13When Pilate heard this, he brought Jesus out and sat down on the judge’s seat at a place known as the Stone Pavement (which in Aramaic is Gabbatha). 14It was the day of Preparation of Passover Week, about the sixth hour.
“Here is your king,” Pilate said to the Jews.

15But they shouted, “Take him away! Take him away! Crucify him!”
“Shall I crucify your king?” Pilate asked.
“We have no king but Caesar,” the chief priests answered.

16Finally Pilate handed him over to them to be crucified.

The Crucifixion

So the soldiers took charge of Jesus. 17Carrying his own cross, he went out to the place of the Skull (which in Aramaic is called Golgotha). 18Here they crucified him, and with him two others—one on each side and Jesus in the middle.

19Pilate had a notice prepared and fastened to the cross. It read:|sc JESUS OF NAZARETH, THE KING OF THE JEWS. 20Many of the Jews read this sign, for the place where Jesus was crucified was near the city, and the sign was written in Aramaic, Latin and Greek. 21The chief priests of the Jews protested to Pilate, “Do not write ‘The King of the Jews,’ but that this man claimed to be king of the Jews.”

22Pilate answered, “What I have written, I have written.”

23When the soldiers crucified Jesus, they took his clothes, dividing them into four shares, one for each of them, with the undergarment remaining. This garment was seamless, woven in one piece from top to bottom.

24“Let’s not tear it,” they said to one another. “Let’s decide by lot who will get it.”
This happened that the scripture might be fulfilled which said,
“They divided my garments among them
and cast lots for my clothing.”[a] So this is what the soldiers did.

25Near the cross of Jesus stood his mother, his mother’s sister, Mary the wife of Clopas, and Mary Magdalene. 26When Jesus saw his mother there, and the disciple whom he loved standing nearby, he said to his mother, “Dear woman, here is your son,” 27and to the disciple, “Here is your mother.” From that time on, this disciple took her into his home.

The Death of Jesus

28Later, knowing that all was now completed, and so that the Scripture would be fulfilled, Jesus said, “I am thirsty.” 29A jar of wine vinegar was there, so they soaked a sponge in it, put the sponge on a stalk of the hyssop plant, and lifted it to Jesus’ lips. 30When he had received the drink, Jesus said, “It is finished.” With that, he bowed his head and gave up his spirit.

31Now it was the day of Preparation, and the next day was to be a special Sabbath. Because the Jews did not want the bodies left on the crosses during the Sabbath, they asked Pilate to have the legs broken and the bodies taken down. 32The soldiers therefore came and broke the legs of the first man who had been crucified with Jesus, and then those of the other. 33But when they came to Jesus and found that he was already dead, they did not break his legs. 34Instead, one of the soldiers pierced Jesus’ side with a spear, bringing a sudden flow of blood and water. 35The man who saw it has given testimony, and his testimony is true. He knows that he tells the truth, and he testifies so that you also may believe. 36These things happened so that the scripture would be fulfilled: “Not one of his bones will be broken,”[b] 37and, as another scripture says, “They will look on the one they have pierced.”[c]

It’s another Donna day!!!


I’m excited to welcome my friend Donna Lowe back to Buddy Breathing today as she continues to blog with me on forgiveness. I’m amazed at Donna’s ability to take difficult concepts and make them real and directly applicable to my life. Thank you for being here Donna, and for sharing your heart for God and others.

Guest blogger, Donna Lowe

Forgiveness. Have you opened your gift?

In my last blog, Understanding Forgiveness: Part One, we caught a glimpse of God’s “Abundant Pardon” toward us. To summarize, there is nothing you have ever done, nothing you are currently doing, nothing you ever will do, that God cannot forgive.

Though God’s mercy is abundant, forgiveness is a transaction. In an ordinary business deal, a transaction is complete when payment is made in exchange for the delivery of goods. It is the same with forgiveness. Jesus paid the price. He died on the cross so that you could be forgiven and reconciled with God. However, you must receive that forgiveness or the transaction is incomplete.

In my senior high school years, I had a special friend. I wanted to do something really significant for him. I decided to buy a gift for his birthday. I knew the gift had to be something useful, but I also wanted the gift to absolutely “wow” him. I wanted this gift to be something he would never have the means to acquire for himself.

I had no money, but I did have a part-time job. I asked my boss if I could work extra hours on evenings and weekends. My boss agreed, and for the next twelve months I worked as often as I could. In addition, I saved my birthday money, and any extra cash that came my way.

I spent all my free time window shopping and pouring over catalogues, trying to decide on a suitable gift. Near the end of the year I found what I considered to be the perfect gift. It was a power tool. I don’t think I have ever been so excited about buying a gift for anyone. I was ridiculously giddy as I made my purchase.

Long story short, I wrapped the gift in beautiful paper, planned a special dinner, invited guests and carefully thought out what I would say when I gave the gift to him. For months I had been imagining the look on his face, as he opened my special gift. Now the time was finally here. I was shocked, no, devastated by what happened next. When he opened the gift, he showed no signs of enthusiasm. He was completely apathetic. The gift remained at my house, in the half opened box, with the wrapping torn to shreds. Eventually I gave the gift to someone else. I guess he was not able to see the value of the gift.

His response however, did not negate the facts.

That gift cost me a lot more than cash. It was bought and paid for, even though he never took it out of the box. The gift was meant for a specific purpose. It was supposed to benefit him, and if used as it was intended, it could have brought him and many others, great joy.

Sadly, as the gift remained in the box it was rendered useless!

I cannot help but see the parallel between my story, and God’s. The gift God gave us, was far more valuable than the one I chose to give my friend. Forgiveness came at a great personal cost and extreme sacrifice. It came beautifully wrapped in precious human frailty, which was later torn to shreds. Regardless of our response to it, the gift of forgiveness for our sins has been bought and paid for. It’s up to us whether we take it out of the box or not.

For many of us who call ourselves “Christians,” we have often received the gift of God’s forgiveness with apathy or total rejection! It’s apathy when we lack joy in our lives and do not praise God continually for what Jesus did for us, regardless of our circumstances.

It is rejection, when our lives remain unchanged by the power of His forgiveness. In speaking about the times to come, Paul describes such people to Timothy in this way, “men will be lovers of self, lovers of money, boastful, arrogant, ungrateful, haters of good, …..reckless, conceited, lovers of pleasure, rather than God. These people have a form of godliness, (think – church goers, professing to be followers of Jesus) although they have denied it’s power” (those church goers remain unforgiving, unloving, exactly as they were before they met Jesus.) 2 Timothy 3:2-5.

When we are apathetic, or reject God’s forgiveness, we are rendered ineffective, because Christianity hinges on the power of forgiveness.

The transaction of forgiveness is made complete with the indwelling of the Holy Spirit, God’s ultimate power tool. When the Holy Spirit lives in us we have all the power we need to live completely different lives. The Holy Spirit enables us to live in obedience to God’s Word, no longer chained to our former thoughts and bad habits. Along with forgiveness, we receive both understanding of who God is, and reconciliation with Him. Forgiveness brings great joy and eternal life, to anyone who accepts it.

So what about you? Have you taken the gift of forgiveness out of the box? Are you walking in obedience, leaving behind your former ways? Have you noticed an increased desire to praise God, regardless of your circumstances? Do have the joy of Christ in you?

You can’t give something away unless you have it to give. Forgiveness is a gift that is meant to be passed on. In my next blog I will begin defining the steps of forgiving others. For now, I hope you will spend some time with God, making sure you understand the value of His gift to you.

Aleichem Shalom

~dl.

But what about those questions…?


Good morning,

If you’ve just joined us, you might not know that we’ve been talking forgiveness… and what began as a couple of questions after a post called, “There’s just something about canceled debt”, has now become a series of blog posts on the subject. I’ve been blessed with the company of another blogger on this series. Donna Lowe graciously shared her biblical, Godly perspective in, “Understanding Forgiveness”, and she will be sharing two more blogs in the next couple of weeks. I dug into the meaning of the words in, “Forgiveness defined“.

So where are we at this point? Where are you?

I’m going back to the original questions of Suzan, who said,

“The debt of guilt! Now there’s a concept… I have to say guilt can really rule my life at times. I think more often than not guilt stems from our inability to forgive ourselves rather than someone else. I think for many people it’s the hardest forgiveness to achieve. Are there any stories in the bible that address this?

So far we’ve looked at stories in the Bible that talk about forgiveness… God’s forgiveness that is available to each of us. Donna looked at the story of David, who needed God’s forgiveness BIG time! And there are take-homes for us from this story, as well as many other Bible stories about regular folk who needed God to forgive them… which he did. Over and over again. Read Donna’s post to see how David’s story applies, illustrating how God longs to be in a pure love relationship with each of us.

There are also many Bible stories about forgiving others. It’s clear that we are to forgive others as God forgives us… over and over again. We can see how often we are to forgive… HERE, why we are to forgive… HERE and HERE and HERE and HERE, when we are to forgive… HERE, who we are to forgive (love)… HERE and HERE, how we are to forgive… HERE and HERE.There are other examples as well.

What I cannot see is any Biblical stories or verses about forgiving myself or forgiving God. I’m adding ‘Forgiving God’ as it’s something that is somewhat related. Which leads me to wonder where these concepts come from? I’ve read them in books, been presented with these ideas by speakers, in conversation… but is it truth? Can it be substantiated in scripture? At this point I cannot find any reference to either concept in the Bible. If you know of something I’ve missed, please share with us. But, if it’s not there, it’s not true. That’s my foundational belief.

Let’s look at the question of forgiving God first. If I need to forgive God… then what does that say of God? I believe it says a few things;

• God needs to be forgiven by me.

• God has done something wrong.

• God is guilty.

The God that I am growing to know… the Hebrew God, the ‘I AM’ of the Bible, is a perfect, holy, awesome, all-powerful, all-knowing, Creator God. He does not need anything from me, certainly not my forgiveness. God does not make any mistakes. God therefore cannot be guilty of any offense as he cannot do anything wrong.  That would go against his character… the core of who he is.

So, my need to forgive God is possibly similar to my need to ask forgiveness or offer forgiveness to others sometimes. It makes me feel better, gets things out in the open, let’s me vent, puts my burden partially back on them. It’s self-focused, rather than God-focused. It relieves me of my responsibility in the thing. I do not believe it to be necessary, nor is it based on the truth. Although I have practiced this in the past, I now believe I was wrong… arrogant in my thinking. I should not forgive God. Nothing is his fault.

What about forgiving myself? I can find no Bible stories that support this idea either. Yet, might it still be needed? That’s a little more complicated, I think. In my opinion, if I,

a) take responsibility for my actions,

b) live through the consequences of them,

c) understand that I am in control of my choices and that what I do, or did is a result of me doing things ‘my way’,

d) asked forgiveness from the people I may have hurt because of my choices, and

e) asked for forgiveness from God for not doing things His way, (not necessarily in that order), and

if I still feel that I need to forgive myself… then I guess it might be a worthwhile exercise to do.

I’d like to believe that it might be unnecessary to do this if I have undertaken all of the above steps. You may not agree, and I know and respect that everyone’s life circumstances are varied. But, asking for, and receiving God’s forgiveness, is a supernatural experience that removes, in it’s entirety, your guilt. There is none left. If we keep a clean slate with God, asking forgiveness on a daily basis for our mistakes, our shortcomings, then we can live in a wide open place of freedom from guilt, regret, remorse. I’d like to live that way. It’s my choice to do so every day.

One more thought… it’s possible to take guilt back. It’s possible to live like you are not forgiven. We are such complicated creatures, and so we can live believing lies about ourselves and others. If you take back the guilt, you are living a lie, living the past. YOU HAVE BEEN FORGIVEN ONCE AND FOR ALL. Let it go. Believe in God’s truth of having been forgiven. Human forgiveness is imperfect. God’s forgiveness is completely perfect. Read and re-read scripture verses that press this truth into your heart. Daily, hourly if you have to. That is the only way to fight against the lies.

Here are some verses, among many, that will help you;

1 John 2:12 (NIV)

12I remind you, my dear children: Your sins are forgiven in Jesus’ name.

Ephesians 1:7(NIV)

7In him we have redemption through his blood, the forgiveness of sins, in accordance with the riches of God’s grace.

Romans 10:9 (The Message)

It’s the word of faith that welcomes God to go to work and set things right for us. This is the core of our preaching. Say the welcoming word to God—”Jesus is my Master”—embracing, body and soul, God’s work of doing in us what he did in raising Jesus from the dead. That’s it. You’re not “doing” anything; you’re simply calling out to God, trusting him to do it for you. That’s salvation. With your whole being you embrace God setting things right, and then you say it, right out loud: “God has set everything right between him and me!”

John 3:16-18 (The Message)

16-18“This is how much God loved the world: He gave his Son, his one and only Son. And this is why: so that no one need be destroyed; by believing in him, anyone can have a whole and lasting life. God didn’t go to all the trouble of sending his Son merely to point an accusing finger, telling the world how bad it was. He came to help, to put the world right again. Anyone who trusts in him is acquitted; anyone who refuses to trust him has long since been under the death sentence without knowing it. And why? Because of that person’s failure to believe in the one-of-a-kind Son of God when introduced to him.

Thanks for dropping by and taking the time to join in our conversation. If you have any comments, please don’t hesitate to add your two cents.

Living and learning,

Lesley-Anne

Understanding Forgiveness


For those of you just joining us, we are looking at the subject of forgiveness with my friend and fellow blogger Donna Lowe. I introduced you to Donna in my recent interview with her.

Today, Donna is looking at one Bible story that has forgiveness written all over it. It’s the story of David, a man who was called, ‘A man after God’s own heart’, yet David needed God’s forgiveness in his life too.  David was guilty of some pretty big and ugly stuff, including adultery and murder! So, David’s story can help us to see that God is able and willing to forgive us of the big and little stuff, if we come to him in the right attitude and motivation of heart and spirit, like David did.

I trust that as you read today’s blog you will come to a fresh or a renewed understanding of God’s forgiveness, available to you and for you.

Understanding Forgiveness – Part One

David – A symbol of God’s abundant Pardon.

We all need forgiveness.  We all have people we need to exonerate.  Though we know we should, and maybe we even know why, most of us do not know “how” to forgive.  Sadly, too many people are living as prisoners, bound by the chains of unforgiveness.

Forgiveness is not a human inclination.  Whether giving or receiving forgiveness, we tend to reject the idea that it’s the best way.  True forgiveness is contingent upon our faith in Jesus.  Without Him, forgiveness is impossible!

As we begin to understand the amazing pardon God has made available for us, both to give and receive, it is my hope and prayer that you would experience the freedom in forgiveness and that those chains loosen

God knew it would be hard for us to understand, and because He knew we would always be looking for a “loophole,” God gave us many clear illustrations of what forgiveness really means, infact, it is the central theme of the entire Bible.  David’s story was no exception.

David was just a boy when he was hand picked by God to be the future King of Israel.  You might remember the story of David and his famous fight with the giant Goliath.  David did many wonderful things for God.  At one point God even called David,  “a man after His own heart.”  However, it is David’s fall into sin that is the focus of our attention today.

Why are we focusing on David’s sin, if there was so much that was good about him.  The short answer is because God did.  “And I will make an everlasting covenant with you, According to the faithful mercies shown to David.  Behold I have made him a witness to the peoples.”  Isaiah 55:3. God used David’s story as a symbol of His abundant pardon.

Here is a quick synopsis of David’s fall:

After David became King of Israel, the Israelites went to battle against the Syrians.  While his army was at war, David remained in the comfort of his palace.  At the end of a blistering hot day, David wandered out onto the roof top to enjoy the cool of the evening.  From this vantage point, David was able to see into the home of Bathsheba.  David’s gaze fell upon this beautiful woman as she was bathing.

Bathsheba was married to Uriah.  He was the loyal commander of David’s army.  Though David was also married, the temptation was more than he could resist.  While Uriah was out fighting for the nation of Israel, David sent for Bathsheba, slept with her, and she became pregnant.

Rather than owning up to his mistake, David tried to cover it up.  He sent for Uriah, and on several occasions, tried to manipulate Uriah into sleeping with Bathsheba, to alter the evidence.  Uriah, loyal to the army, refused to indulge himself while the others were still at war.  When that plan failed, David conspired and intentionally had Uriah sent to the front lines, so that he would be killed in combat.

Because God is Holy, he cannot condone sin.  The penalty for sin is death!  However, because of His amazing Grace, He had a plan for reconciliation.  Even before we knew we needed it – God prepared a way for us.  From David’s story, let’s try to grasp the principles God wants us to learn.

Does God have restrictions?

God’s forgiveness is abundant, while we have many conditions.  We will forgive some people, but not others.  We find some offenses easier to forgive, while others are just too big.  We will forgive someone once, maybe twice, but we will not be a doormat for anyone.

In Isaiah 55:8&9 God reminds us, “For My thoughts are not your thoughts, Nor are your ways My ways.  For as the heavens are higher than the earth, So are My ways higher than your ways And My thoughts than your thoughts.”  Isaiah 55:8-9.  We simply must understand forgiveness from a Godly perspective!

Who Qualifies?

Isaiah 55:1a reads, “HO!  Every one who thirsts, come to the waters.”  Not long ago I heard an amazing teaching on the single word “Ho.”  The word is spoken is a loud shout, coming from the inner soul.  It is like a deep groaning that surfaces and cannot be contained.  “Ho” portrays God’s longing to get this word out to the people.  “Ho!  Every one who thirsts,” qualifies for God’s promise.  We all have a thirst.  It is the deep longing inside each of us that only God can satisfy.  Forgiveness from God, it is like water to a parched soul.

How much does it cost?

God accepts us as we are.  Because Jesus paid the price on the cross, forgiveness is free to anyone who seeks Him.  Isaiah 55:1b.  “And you who have no money come, buy and eat.  Come, buy wine and milk Without money and without cost.”

How much is too much?

All sin is equal to God.  “For whoever keeps the whole law and yet stumbles in one point, he has become guilty of all.”  James 2:10.  God does not compare your sin, to mine, or mine to another’s and decide on some scale of “better or worse,” who will receive a pardon and who will not, as we do.  You and I, David the murderer, and even Billy Graham, we are all equal to one another in God’s eyes.

What is the limit?

We often limit the number of times we will forgive one another.  Imagine if God had said to David, “David, I definitely could have forgiven you, if all you had done was sneak a peak at Bathsheba while she was bathing.  Ok, maybe, just maybe, I might have been able to forgive the adultery.  Fool me once, shame on you!  Fool me twice shame on Me.  But David – three strikes and you are out!  You just had to go and murder Uriah.  You can’t expect me to forgive you now!”   God in His Grace forgave David for His sins.

Time sensitive offer.

“Seek the LORD while He may be found; Call upon Him while He is Near.  Let the wicked forsake his way and the unrighteous man his thoughts; and let him return to the LORD, and He will have compassion on him, and to our God, for He will abundantly pardon. “  Isaiah 55:6&7

We do not know when our lives will end, nor do we know the life span of another.  This is a decision that demands immediate attention.

Have you accepted God’s abundant pardon?  Do you have someone you need to forgive?

Seek the Lord while He may be found.  Call upon Him while He is near.

Shalom Aleichem.

~dl.

Forgiveness defined


I spoke with my Dad.  He and I have good conversations. Dad’s my go-to person when I need spiritual guidance based on solid Bible teaching. Dad doesn’t just read his Bible, he studies it on a regular basis. He reads what other writers have to say about it, reads Bible commentaries and concordances and prays for God’s truth to be revealed. So you can understand that I have a lot of respect for his opinion on things of a spiritual nature.

This time I told him all about the forgiveness topic that I’m writing about, and asked his advice on how to best approach it. First thing he said to do was to come to terms with definitions.

So, taking out our old red Websters New Collegiate well-worn dictionary (that I inherited as part of our marriage contract), I turned to these words in reference to the root word ‘forgive’;

Forgive: 1. to cease to feel resentment against (an offender): PARDON (~one’s enemies)

2. a: to give up resentment of or claim to requital for (~an insult)

b: to grant relief from payment of (~a debt) ~vi: to grant forgiveness

Forgiveness: the act of forgiving: PARDON

As the word PARDON was jumping out at me in capital letters, I looked next at it. Does anyone know why certain words are written in caps? Anyway;

Pardon: 1: the excusing of an offence without exacting a penalty

2: INDULGENCE

3 a: a release from the legal penalties of an offence b: an official warrant of remission of penalty

4: excuse or forgiveness for a fault, offence, or discourtesy.

For today I’m going to let those definitions simmer a little bit. I’m going to consider how this new information found in  definitions affects the answers to the questions of my last posting on forgiveness.

Any thoughts… any revelations?

Lesley-Anne

Forgiveness isn’t natural


A few days ago a friendly reader left a question in my comment box that has stuck with me, and inspired me to respond in a more studied way than I might usually do. Because the topic is so important and so foundational to who I am and what I profess, I want to be very careful how I approach it, and what I say.

Problem is, I haven’t said anything yet! Well, here goes.

As I begin writing on forgiveness I have to wonder whether this makes good blog or not? I’ve always experienced blogging to be something like a flood… a bit less constraining and more personal than well edited writing. Yet with this topic I feel the need to research, study, mull over, substantiate what I will say, rather than follow intuitive leadings. I want to dig in and unearth truth.  And, because the reader was looking for biblical examples, I will go to my Bible. This will take some time, so I’ve decided to being to write a series that will not just be off the top of my head. So I hope that’s all good.

I trust that you will continue to ask challenging questions, as that’s healthy for everyone and stimulates good dialogue.

First, the question;

Posted by Suzan on the blog, There’s just something about canceled debt.

“The debt of guilt! Now there’s a concept… I have to say guilt can really rule my life at times. I think more often than not guilt stems from our inability to forgive ourselves rather than someone else. I think for many people it’s the hardest forgiveness to achieve. Are there any stories in the bible that address this?

While the immediate question appears to have a straight forward yes or no answer, related questions require a deeper look at things. Questions like, “Can we forgive ourselves?” And even bigger, “Can we forgive God?”

The topic of forgiveness is HUGE! More questions pour into my mind. What does forgiveness mean? Is forgiveness necessary? Why is it so hard to do? What if we don’t forgive? What does the bible say on the topic? And, what do we do with that? What do I do with that?

Thankfully I will not be alone in unpacking the topic, but will be partnering with a friend and fellow blogger who is currently digging into forgiveness too. More on this future guest blogger later though, as today’s post is simply a starting place.

Who hasn’t struggled with forgiveness? I know I certainly have, and continue to do so almost on a daily basis. And anyone with children will be familiar with the need to teach this concept to them at a young age, because they don’t know how to do it on their own, nor do they naturally want to do it.

In our family the foundation of forgiveness is based on our faith. As God has forgiven us, so we forgive one another. The Lord’s prayer is a familiar place to find this bible concept where it says, “And forgive us our debts, as we forgive our debtors.” For us, the ultimate expression of forgiveness is God’s forgiveness of our sins through the substitutionary death of his son Jesus, as I wrote about in ‘There’s just something about canceled debt’. This is what we hold out as our example and obligation when we consider who and what we are to forgive as God’s kids.

Just the other night I overheard our teens resolving a disagreement… and I heard these familiar words, ‘Please forgive me for ______”, followed by, “I forgive you.” Now they probably don’t always mean what they say at the time, but we’ve taught them that this is what they must say to one another. And, we’ve taught them to ask forgiveness of God for what they have done. While they’ve done something that hurt their relationship with one another, their actions have hurt their relationship with God. They need to make it right with him.

Sounds pretty simple and maybe even like a formula, but it’s not. Because asking of, and granting forgiveness to, another human being means a couple of pretty profound things… like thinking outside the universe of ‘me’ and humbling myself, accepting my mistake, and my responsibility, and my blame, and asking for something I don’t deserve from the other person. Similarly, asking for and receiving forgiveness from God is also profound, in that it requires me to admit that it’s not all about me, accept that I’m ultimately responsible to God, admit my sin (anything that goes against his ways), admit my need of his forgiveness even though I don’t deserve it.

And, in our human relationships, both the recipient and the giver of forgiveness find restored relationship after forgiveness is granted. Again, this might be much later, after the anger has subsided and the rational mind has thought things through. Then, it’s gone. For the most part it’s a fresh start. In perfect forgiveness there is no more blame, no feelings of lingering bitterness or resentment because it’s been dealt with right up front. In our experience, the feelings of forgiveness always follow the words and the choice to forgive.

With God it’s the same. The relationship is fully restored because of forgiveness. Bible says, “He has removed our sins as far from us as the east is from the west.”

I’m just scraping the surface here. I haven’t begun to answer the question yet, but I believe there’s a lot of ground to cover first. Please bear with me.

My point is simply, forgiveness does not appear to come naturally to any of us. It goes against our human nature. Faith and forgiveness go hand in hand for me, for my family. The more I read and write and think on it, the more I’m convinced that forgiveness is a God thing, not a human thing at all.

I think that’s all for today. Next postings will look at the definition of the word, and what stories we can find in the Bible that exemplify it, as well as what God has to say about it.

And, I can hardly wait to introduce my blogging partner to you!

Please forgive me that today is not Poetry Friday003. Next week I’ll be back on track again.

Digging in,

Lesley-Anne