Monday, September 23, 2013

The View From Here, and Forgiveness

As promised, I've got a post coming up about life as of late, but today I just wanted to share a little snippet of how I'm feeling right now.

This morning, I had to take my poor kitten to the vet because he's getting declawed, so I skipped my first class, meaning my morning was free from 6:30 when I woke up until 9:30 when I had to leave for my second class.

And the weather is absolutely beautiful today - when I got back from dropping Bingley off at the vet's office, it was 67 degrees. SIXTY SEVEN DEGREES!!! 

I can't even remember the last time I walked outside without feeling like I was going to die of heat stroke. There was no way I was letting that go without soaking as much of it up as I could (the high today is supposed to be 91, I think). 

So after a quick trip to my favorite coffee shop, the Raging Sage, and a couple of run-ins with some lovely friends, I took a chair out to our (rather pathetic) patio (but a patio nonetheless!) and had my quiet time. Completely randomly, I ended up reading in the Psalms and in Luke about forgiveness, a concept that I have been tenaciously wrestling to apply in my life lately. Fittingly, my devotion was about living in the fullest potential of this moment... and in all of the verses and the words and the teaching that I was reading, I just felt peace. And quiet. And the joy in just being still, sitting on my patio with a great view of the parking lot, listening to my roommates shuffle around in our wonderful little apartment getting ready for the day. 

And I felt so thankful. Thankful for my roommates, for our apartment, for the beautiful weather, for my friends and family and community and, oddly, for this season of my life. Thankful that I can tangibly see the way that God has been working in my life, refining my character, healing my heart. 
Thankful that when I read about the biblical and practical nature of forgiveness this morning, my thoughts weren't 

How am I ever going to be able to do that?

like they have been so much lately; instead, they were 

God, thank you so much for teaching me about the way that you forgave me and continue to forgive me every day, so that I can forgive because of you. 

Because what I have learned lately is that forgiveness is hard. When someone wrongs me, I don't want to give them a free pass, turn the other cheek, accept them with unrelenting grace - I want justice! I want them to admit they were wrong, to apologize, to make things right!

But that's not how it works. God's forgiveness for us - for our sins, for our un-Christian thoughts, for the swear word that slipped out - is always available. It's complete, it's whole, it's unconditional. We don't have to do anything to earn the forgiveness - it's there, offered freely, and all we have to do is accept it. If we met up with God for coffee one day, and said "God, I'm so sorry for what I did, I know I don't deserve your forgiveness but -", he would probably just wave his hand casually through the air and say "You don't have to explain. You have nothing to apologize for. I love you, and I forgive you. It's done."

How ridiculous is that? I could probably list off 500 offenses that I make against God every single day. And he forgives me unconditionally, unhesitatingly, every single time.

And in knowing that, how could I not be forgiving too?

Not that it's easy. Quite the opposite - like I said, forgiveness is hard. It's in our human nature to want to feel vindicated. But Luke 17:4 says "Even if a person wrongs you seven times a day and each time turns again and asks forgiveness, you must forgive." When I first read that verse, I thought Oh, but it says you must forgive them if they ask for forgiveness. And I think it seems kind of unnatural to forgive someone if they don't ask forgiveness, if they don't even feel sorry for what they did or how they hurt you. But the Jesus model of forgiveness shows us that forgiveness is there, available to us if we ask for it or not. It's not an action, or a benevolent string of words you say to someone to make them feel better - forgiveness is a matter of the heart.

And sitting on my porch this morning, soaking up the beauty of a new day, I felt a new resolve in my heart to make it a reality in my life. To walk it out. For the first time, I felt confident that I could say with honesty I forgive you, if I was ever given the opportunity. I felt the victory of OVERCOMING

And that's my view from here. 
What does your view look like?

Tender mercies, new each morning
Finding life in You
The sun is rising, the Son has risen
Making all things new

You make all things, You make all things, You make all things new