Tuesday, March 29, 2011
I can't do it!
picture by Kris
If the Gospel is about anything,it is about forgiveness.It is demanded of believers.This is the hard path that we choose when we follow Christ.And I am not sure it can be done just in our heads.The gospel says that,"My heavenly Father will treat you in exactly the same way unless each of you forgives his brother from his heart.",Mt 18:35.
So how do we do this?I found something that was very helpful to me in a book by Emmet Fox,"Around the Year with Emmet Fox."There are readings for each day and on a certain day I read this:If it is your will to forgive, then the greatest part is already done.Then do this:""Get by yourself,become quiet.Repeat any prayer that appeals to you ,or read a chapter of the Bible.Then quietly say,"I fully and freely forgive (mention the name);I loose him/her and let him/her go.I cast the burden aside .He is now free and I am free too.The Truth of Christ has set us both free and I thank God.""
I have done this and as I type these words my hands feel lighter, tears start to form in my eyes.This is when that big red balloon that you hold inside your heart starts to leave your chest and float into the blue glorious sky.The black tar that has been behind your eyes and has clouded everything you see, slowly melts into a small ball that eventually dissipates.Who knows what you will become, how free you will be when you do this.
The second suggestion is that if the offense or the person comes to mind, we need to pray for their good and let the thought go.I would suggest a third.We need to show that person some care, some token of love.This is forgiveness with your feet.A visit to the hospital room of a person who has hurt you deeply.A "thinking of you" card.
Perhaps it is too late for that.The person is no longer here.How about a tree planted in their name.Some effort to cement the deal.
In my view, there is more.Something that may be harder than all this.Can I forgive myself ?In today's reading from Daniel, the Israelites, have run into trouble once again and are on their knees begging once again to be the apple of God's eye after turning away from Him.Nothing in me condemns them because I have done the same thing.
Once, in Spiritual Direction,I met with a person who, late in life had come to know the Lord.She was so horribly burdened with her past life's sins.What I offered to her was my belief that when we are not connected to God, we don't have the power to resist sin.He knows that,so it might be better to focus on thanking Him for your new life.In a way, if we focus on our past life and transgressions we are paying attention to the author of Evil.If we are sorry,we must accept God's forgiveness.
It was God's work that my nephew,Paul,sent me Fox's book.That the suggestion on how to forgive fell on the birthday of the one person in the world that I desperately needed to pardon so that I could walk into her hushed hospital room and say good-bye.