“This is the new covenant I will make with My people on that day, says the Lord:
I will put my laws in their hearts so they will understand them,
and I will write them on their minds so they will obey them.”
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Then He adds,
“I will never again remember their sins and lawless deeds.”
A year ago a bad man hurt a good woman very badly.
As soon as I heard I went running to that woman as fast as I could. Just dropped everything and flew to be with her. This is a woman I’ve been loving my whole life and so when I wrapped her in my arms I gathered all her pain and stuffed it deep within my own heart. I breathed her hurt down, inhaling the rejection, the betrayal, the audacity of what he’d done to her.
He became my enemy.
Together we gathered what was left of her life and swept all the broken shards into a pitiful pile.
We plucked out of the remains what we knew was still good: a courageous son, a feisty daughter, a lovely refuge of a home, a job worth doing, and a whole slew of living, breathing, involved people who’d rally round to see her through.
And it was not enough. Not nearly enough.
Eventually I had to go back to my own life and all that hurt came home with me. Only it changed clothes a little on the way back. As I unpacked my suitcase, out spilled indignation…which simmered into anger…and soon boiled into a raging bitterness.
I was mad. And the funny thing is that I wanted everyone else as mad as me. And when they weren’t, I got mad at them.
I knew I needed to forgive, but how do you honestly, authentically, down-deep-in-your-bones forgive someone who doesn’t seem really sorry?
How do you let go of that roiling rage that lurks long after the deed is done?
And further, are you sure you should?
So I did what every woman does when she doesn’t know what to do- I called a friend. Actually, I emailed all my madness to my friend in one long seething missive which must have seared her eyes as she absorbed my words.
She, wise friend that she is, waited a while to answer back.
Take a long look at Hebrews 10:26-31, she wrote me. Then read it again, but this time in the context of the entire chapter.
So I did. The passage she referred to is normally kind of hard to swallow. All about deliberate sin and terrible judgment and raging fire that will consume God’s enemies- not exactly cross-stitch quotable. In fact, it rather took my breath away.
I don’t want that! Not even for him, not even for all the suffering he’s caused so many.
When faced with God’s idea of justice my own anger backed off a notch or two.
Then I started back at the beginning of the chapter and read all about how the old way of trying to be good and saying sorry and doing sacrificial stuff never did work very well.
So God stepped in… and Jesus came and He lived and He loved and He told stories and then He climbed on that Cross and He died because there was just no other way to free us from the sin we couldn’t stop doing.
And He did this for me.
Even with all my audacious ugliness and purposeful faithlessness and self-righteous reasoning of why it wasn’t my fault.
Just like the bad man who did the good woman wrong.
All my anger did was point a finger back at my own badness. The stuff I’m not really very sorry for, the bad stuff I do over and over again. The stuff I think, the stuff I say, the stuff that really hurts God’s heart.
My friend is still hurting and life isn’t easy and this story can’t get wrapped up all neat and tidy.
But I’ve lived a lesson I’d thought I’d learned a long time ago. A lesson about forgiving not because someone deserves it or has apologized enough or is sincerely sorry enough, but because I’ve been forgiven so much.
And for now, that is enough.
From my heart,
"Be kind to one another, tender-hearted, forgiving each other, just as God in Christ also has forgiven you." Ephesians 4:32 (NASB)
Jesus told a whole story about this in Matthew 18:21-35
Do you have a favorite verse or passage of Scripture that keeps reminding you of how to live and how to forgive way beyond yourself?