I never want to wish my life away, but I wanted the week to be over.
Come the morning, and I waken to newness. It is fresh, untainted. Even my journal pages are still neat without the scribbles of changed plans, check offs, and scratch-through tasks I deem unnecessary.
Just for today then . . .
I simply want to know I am loved.
I need to hear I am accepted as I am.
I long to be called, “My child.”
I must believe I am forgiven.
I hunger for the comfort of the Kinsmen Redeemer.
Hurriedly dressing for early band practice at church, I grab my music bag and purse. In the car I turn on the radio and hear love songs on the Christian station I’m tuned to. I take them as a gift, an embrace from my Savior who hears the prayers from such as I.
I am assured . . . that I am lavishly loved, accepted in the Beloved, called to be part of the family, forgiven of all my sins, redeemed with shed blood, and rescued with an outstretched arm.
“Now may the Lord of peace himself give you peace at all times and in every way. The Lord be with all of you.“
After surviving months of quarantine, hopeful of better days, we witness rioting in the streets of our country. Tensions run strong as people express their hurt, anger, and fear. We break and wound because we are broken and wounded.
We want justice to prevail. We want people to be treated right. We want things to change rather than be like they’ve always been. Divided we are falling.
While laws are written and imposed, we cannot force hearts to love one another. Only God can do that. Only God can bring peace to a tormented soul. Only God is the lasting answer for our hurt and anger and fear.
And so I pray,
Dear Father of Love and Reconciliation, You alone can heal our troubled hearts. Our iniquities were laid upon Jesus. He took our punishment and brought us peace by His atoning sacrifice. We have peace with You through Jesus.
Yet we don’t receive it. Instead, we try to fix things ourselves, as if we could make it all right. We are helpless and hopeless without Your love permeating the essence of our being, changing us to be more like Christ.
Jesus Christ Himself is our peace, tearing down the walls that separate us. He made peace possible through His blood, freely giving Himself for us.
Why can’t we love each other? Why can’t we be kind, forgiving, gracious to one another? Because we have not received the gift of Your love. Your love changes us. Your love bears righteous fruit in our lives. Your love shows us how to give and forgive, how to accept as You have accepted us.
Help us, O God! Help us see the light in the grace You offer. It is a grace that flows to the lowest depths, covers a multitude of sins, and lifts us from the mire of our selfishness and pride.
You are Jehovah Shalom, God of Peace. The road to peace is paved with the blood of the Son of God.
In the name of the One who said, “My peace I give to you. . . . In Me you may have peace.”
Father forgive us. Too much we don’t know what we are doing.
Forgive us for putting politics above people.
Forgive us for bashing our politicians, government officials, police officers, the media, the really odd relative, and our neighbor close by.
Forgive us when we pass by the homeless person, looking the other way lest we make eye contact.
Forgive us when we are impatient with other drivers who do the unexpected or drive too slow or cut us off in traffic.
Forgive us when we react angrily rather than thinking first and responding appropriately.
Forgive us when we lash out at the ones we love most because we feel safest with them.
Forgive us for wanting things so much that we push people aside.
Forgive us for our pride, thinking we can manage on our own, that we don’t need anyone else, that we can do life by ourselves.
Forgive us for passing judgment on another’s heart when only You can see what’s really there.
Forgive us for holding on to hurts and grudges so long that they become heavy burdens we carry and bars that imprison us.
Forgive us when we wound others out of our own woundedness.
Forgive us for turning to idols of wealth, fame, addictions, and even people when our first devotion belongs to You.
Forgive us when we take for granted all Your good gifts and do not give You thanks all circumstances.
Forgive us for our hatred and our prejudice, failing to remember that you made each of us precious in Your sight and we are equally loved by You.
Forgive us for disregarding the unborn, the elderly, the disabled, the less than perfect.
Forgive us for turning our eyes away from You, for making any and everything our first love, giving away our devotion and worship.
Forgive us for not loving each other the way we love ourselves.
Forgive us . . .
Hanging on the cross, His life blood dripping on the ground, Jesus’ accusers and His executioners railed against Him. His friends were gone, running scared. The miracles and love He gave freely were forgotten by the crowds.
The blameless One was dying like the two criminals on either side of Him. He took all our shame and guilt and transgression, every misdeed and violation and offence. He bore it all Himself.
So He lifted His eyes toward heaven and said,
Father, forgive them, for they don’t know what they are doing.
Forgiveness. Unforgiveness. I am confronted with it this morning in my morning quiet time.
And a person comes to my mind, someone who hurt me with her words, a wound that was deep. I struggled to find healing for it. I struggled to forgive.
Daily sometimes I said it to myself. “I forgive her. Lord, please do a work of forgiveness in my heart.” I willed to let the offense go, but I need a higher power to removed the pain and heal the laceration of my heart. Forgiveness is a divine attribute, not a human one.
Christ in me is the only way it can happen.
I have surmised that when I think of the offense and it does not hurt anymore, then forgiveness is complete in me. So why this morning am I thinking of it once more with a twinge of discomfort?
I’m not sure. Perhaps it is the enemy of my soul trying to torment me. Perhaps it is because someone else has upset my apple cart and gotten under my skin, making me want to retaliate. Forgiveness is once again required.
Tempting me to hold onto grudges and offenses are his prime tool. Keeping hurts alive is where a root of bitterness finds a way into my soul. And Scripture warns me not to be ignorant of satan’s tricks.
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
So once again, I affirm my desire to forgive. How can I do otherwise? I have been forgiven much. I have no right to withhold it from another.
“Lord, I forgive _________ once again. Do the work of forgiveness in me, mending my heart and giving me a complete recovery.”
I don’t want to carry the burden any longer. I don’t want to be locked into a prison of my own making. I want to be free.
I have been given much grace. I will give grace as I have received it. In Jesus name. For He forgave me fully and pefectly.
I walk in the stillness of the dawn and the early morning fog, the faint sound of a train in the distance. The day begins fresh and clean with mercies fresh from the Father’s hand.
Leaves and branches are strewn on the pavement and grassy fields, the results of a blowing wind and rain the evening before. The dead have clung to trees too long. The violent tugging loosed them. They needed to go. They were lifeless.
I’ve had some dead branches fall away this week, burdens, grief and emotions I clung to long enough. They needed to go. They were lifeless and sapping the life from me.
Moments in Scripture pull me back from my self focus, to the One who is the central focus of all of existence. Of life itself. The Father invites me to lay down my heavy load, to come and find forgiveness and rest.
I respond to His invitation, confessing my sin, feeling His embrace. He wipes away the tears and wipes the slate clean again.
I am the beloved of God, not because I have much to offer but because He offers all. Though I fall and fail, His love is unfailing and catches the fallen.
Sometimes I forget how heavy it is to carry around old hurts, like that extra twenty pounds I am always wanting to lose. It impedes my progress. It also blocks my vision and troubles my spirit.
Jesus came to set me free from the guilt and condemnation of my own past. It is for freedom that I have been set free. To walk in the beauty of grace unencumbered.
Then why do I hold onto offenses, nurse unforgiveness, and let things fester too long? I don’t know why. What I do know is freedom from guilt and freeing others from my own expectations lighten my load so that I can walk unfettered along my journey.
So this morning, as the Word speaks truth to me and I bow my head to pray, I do what I have done so many times before. I repent. And I forgive. They go together.
It is for freedom I have been set free. I want to walk in it every day. My path will be straighter, my vision clear, my load lighter.
January ignites something in me. Clean out. Sort through. Cast off. Organize what’s left. It compels me to look in every drawer and every closet. It’s amazing, or maybe not, how much can accumulate in a year. More clothes than I can wear. Gadgets a plenty. Books I haven’t had time to read. And let’s don’t even talk about the junk drawer.
It’s a freeing experience to fill the box for Goodwill and let things go. I see space when I open the closet, the drawer, and that is a good feeling.
So it shouldn’t really surprise me that as I am reading 1st John preparing for a Bible study soon to begin, the tender nudging of the Holy Spirit wants to open an area in my life. It’s something I’ve been dealing with for too long. Struggling to let it go. Wanting to be free of it but still clinging to the “I’ve been wronged” part of it. My so-called righteous indignation that I was accused falsely, that my motives were questioned stirs up hurtful words and cutting remarks from years ago.
I thought I was over it. Apparently not.
The clever enemy who knows my weak points, prods with reminders. “Remember that time . . . ” And I give in and pull it out, examine it and let it stir up old feelings. The junk drawer of my life.
So tender are Jesus’ whispers, reminding me this is not the best use of my life. Old feelings are taking up room where He wants the fresh breezes of the Spirit to flow freely.
When confronted with Truth, what else can I do but bow the knee. And so I confess. Again. God wants me to experience the full forgiveness. Freedom. It’s something only He can completely provide.
So I pray to forgive once again. I confess and ask for His healing work in me. I cling to the assurance of John’s beautiful words: