Tuesday, June 10, 2008

Forgiveness = Love

Each morning I get emailed a verse of the day along with a prayer, so today in my quiet time I reflected on today's verse:

Colossians 3:13
Bear with each other and forgive whatever grievances you may have against one another. Forgive as the Lord forgave you.

Thoughts on today's verse
How can I not forgive a brother for whom Christ died, when I know what God paid to forgive me?

Holy Father, I commit today to release any grudge or bitterness that I have against one of your children. I am sorry for not reflecting your grace and mercy which you lavished on me. But Abba Father, I need the help of your Holy Spirit to relinquish my claim on the wrongs committed against me and to treat those who have hurt me as full siblings in your family. Empower me as I commit to follow your example in forgiving, even when it is hard. Through Jesus I pray. Amen.'

With everything going on with my dad, it really makes me appreciate the weight of this verse. Life is simply too short not to forgive.

Tonight I have a date to watch "The Bucket List" with my dad. I saw it in the theaters but he hasn't seen it yet. There is a storyline in the end where, before his own life ends, Jack Nicholson's character has to overcome whatever bitterness he has had with his daughter to find freedom in forgiveness. He is stubborn at first, but Morgan Freeman's character finally pushes him to do so. As a result, Jack finally finds joy in having not only his daughter back in his life, but now his grandchild that he had never met. Had he not finally forgave her, he would have missed out on the new life their relationship took on now blessed in love and grace. It was something that wasn't on his bucket list, but it was the most important thing he accomplished.

Unfortunately, life doesn't always end up happily ever after, and I've learned the hard way that we are not promised forgiveness from those who we seek forgiveness from. But that's not the point or where the true freedom is found. Jesus doesn't promise everyone will forgive us, He simply asks us to forgive 77 times. (Matthew 18:21-22).

Even in my own relationship with my dad, over the years, there have been challenges along the way that required forgiveness on both our parts. Just as he has continued to forgive me, I have continued to forgive him, and now we are closer than we've ever been. It took me a long time to realize that great love is not having a perfect relationship, but loving through the imperfections. Loving someone when it is the hardest to love them. Loving them by running toward them, not away from them. Loving by forgiving them, and how that opens your life to the greatest love of all, God's love. I have seen the greatest example of this in my parents' marriage and pray that I can one day be given the same grace in my own.

They say it's not until you think you are dying that you really start to live. I also believe it's not until you can finally forgive that you really start to love.

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