(December 5, 2006)

Over the last couple of days I’ve been trying to decide on what I most wanted to write about next: shortbread (I’ve got the best recipe) or grace. But since there seemed to be so much interest in my last post, I felt I really needed to carry on a bit on the theme of forgiveness and grace. The topic is not ready to put down just yet.

In my previous post I talked about Jesus being an extreme forgiver. The point that didn’t come through, I think, was that when Jesus was on the cross and said to God, “Father, forgive them, for they do not know what they are doing,” the “they” he talked about was everyone, you and I included. It is out of unconditional love for us.

God loves us, no matter what we do or what we say. I remember a time when I was really down when a friend helped me grasp how deep this love for me is. I don’t think I’ve been the same since.

There’s a good book on the topic, What’s so Amazing about Grace? by Philip Yancey. I looked through my copy and want to share what he quotes Henri Nouwen as saying:

“I have often said, ‘I forgive you,’ but even as I said these words my heart remained angry or resentful. I still wanted to hear the story that tells me that I was right after all; I still wanted to hear apologies and excuses; I still wanted the satisfaction of receiving some praise in return – if only the praise for being so forgiving!

But God’s forgiveness is unconditional; it comes from a heart that does not demand anything for itself, a heart that is completely empty of self-seeking. It is this divine forgiveness that I have to practice in my daily life. It calls me to keep stepping over all my arguments that say forgiveness is unwise, unhealthy, and impractical. It challenges me to step over all my needs for gratitude and compliments. Finally, it demands of me that I step over that wounded part of my heart that feels hurt and wronged and that wants to stay in control and put a few conditions between me and the one whom I am asked to forgive.”

Something neat that Yancey says: “Forgiveness is an act of faith. By forgiving another, I am trusting that God is a better justice-maker that I am.”