Recently at a lunch event that I attended, a Hollywood writer shared the story of her father who had grown up in an abusive alcoholic family which left his mother single and abandoned. Through the restoration of Jesus, her father had not only survived his horrific childhood, he had become a pastor. One night, as a young pastor, he was invited to preach for a local Salvation Army gathering of homeless men and women who needed a hot meal. As he gave the call to accept Christ no one budged, and he thought he had failed to reach anyone. But he asked again – 3 times. Finally, a man in the back of the room came slowly forward. The man was his own abusive, alcoholic father who had abandoned the family years before.
December is the giving month. All of us want to give, but what we give is always the question. For many, a monetary gift is an easy answer but for others that option isn’t available. Many times the greatest gift must come from the heart and takes heroic courage leaving us in a vulnerable position. It means we potentially open åourselves up to more rejection, suffering, and pain. Forgiveness is the ultimate gift God gave us. True forgiveness spreads like a plague and when unleashed changes people’s lives. When Adam and Eve were cast out of the Garden because of their irreversible choice, God showed us how to move forward. Their sinful act of stealing and devouring the fruit from the Tree of Good and Evil couldn’t be reversed. In their defense, I sometimes wonder if they really understood the eternal consequences of their action. For many of us, we also lack understanding of the havoc and chaos our choices have on others and once the domino falls, we don’t know how to fix the damage. If you saw the recent “Breaking Bad” television series you might relate. God’s laws are sovereign and we condemned to live in this broken, damaged world until He returns. But he has provided a way to endure and through His loving nature a way for survival and restitution.
For many families, this month also means confrontation with those that have hurt, stolen, and brought anguish into our lives and may be sitting across a dinner table from us. How do we forgive them as God forgave us? How do we endure them? God says, in His Word, that when He forgives He wipes the transgression from His memory. Isaiah 43:25 says, “I, even I, am He who blots out your transgressions, for my own sake, and remembers your sins no more. “ Can we really forget? God says, “for His own sake” He blots out the transgression. Maybe we need to do the same.
When I think how God took an innocent lamb (one moment the lamb was enjoying the peace and security of the Garden laying perhaps next to a lion’s warm furry body) and then in the next moment God broke his neck and spilled his blood to provide a covering for Adam and Eve it must have been horrific. God’s perfect world shattered. God in His pure love not only forgave but provided for Adam and Eve. His protection for them and would ultimately send Jesus, His son, the perfect Lamb of God, wrapped in a cloth lying in a manger, to cover our sins for all eternity. His son would come to earth to show us the way to live in this damaged, broken world. There are injuries and incidents that can’t be undone but God can wipe away the tears and provide the way for impossible brokenness to be forgiven and restored. Do the damage and scars remain? Oh yes… but God is not in the shiny new business He is into the restorative business. The shiny new world is yet to come and He asks us while we are still subject to this fallen broken world to “endure .” Matthew 24: 12 -13: ”Because lawlessness is increased, most people’s love will grow cold. But the one who endures to the end, he will be saved.”
Give the gift of forgiveness this Christmas and let God prove to you how He loves with an endless everlasting love. Give a gift that will keep on giving.
Jeremiah 31:3 … “I have loved you, my people, with an everlasting love. With unfailing love I have drawn you to myself.” Prayer: Forgive us our debts/trespasses as we forgive….
Check out this video and story on the power of forgiveness that keeps on giving :