White as snow

Photo courtesy of Pamela Logan

It is a cold, crisp morning here in Colorado. The temperature has dropped over night, and a very pretty, velvety layer of powdered snow lies across the land. The sun shines, which illuminates the whole mountainside making everything twinkle with beauty.

In this setting, I reflected on the concept of forgiveness and being forgiving, a concept that is central to a life that follows Christ.

Come now, let us reason together, says the Lord :though your sins are like scarlet, they shall be as white as snow; though they are red like crimson, they shall become like wool.               Isaiah 1:18

I am constantly sinning. I do wrong each and every day, and more likely each moment. I sin in deed frequently, but more often and more insidious are my thoughts. My mind often strays. I am selfish. I am prideful, and I may make decisions primarily for my own benefit, comfort, and edification. I wrong my fellow man and ultimately God.

We are all like this. We all sin and fall short, against God and against our fellow man.

How to we repair the damage? How do we make amends?  How do we heal and restore broken relationships do to our sin?

This morning I read Step 5 from the Twelve Steps used by addiction recovery groups. Step 5 states:

Admitted to God, to ourselves, and to another human being the exact nature of our wrongs.

The healing from our sins and wrong doing involves three beings. The first is obvious; we need to reach out to God, confess our sins, and receive His cleansing. Next, we have to deal honestly with ourselves – to admit we have problems, that we are individually flawed, and that there is a better life ahead if we turn away from our wrong behavior and accept God’s plan (sometimes this is the hardest – admitting to ourselves we have a problem). Third, and in my opinion the most important, we must admit to other people our weakness and flaws and sins.

Admitting our wrongs to others is essential. It is necessary for healing. Forgiveness is easily and readily obtainable in the vertical direction. God wants to pour out forgiveness and reconciliation to His people. This is why He sent His one and only Son.

Father Richard Rohr describes the need for apology, forgiveness, and reconciliation quite well in a little book titled: Breathing Underwater: Spirituality and the Twelve Steps.

Only mutual apology, healing, and forgiveness offer a sustainable future for humanity. Otherwise we are controlled by the past, individually and corporately. We all need to apologize, and we all need to forgive or this human project will surely self-destruct.

When we are easily offended, forgiveness becomes difficult. However, a gracious and forgiving spirit is the perfect antidote for one who readily takes offense at the actions and words of others.

We all need daily cleansing. We all need to wash clean our past of wrong doing, as well as the daily missteps that we take. This the essence and purpose of forgiveness. It helps restore relationship. It helps us reach peace and contentment. Dr. Dough Weiss of the Heart to Heart Counseling Center describes it as “emotional constipation”. We hold grudges and offenses inside of us. We don’t daily seek forgiveness and reconciliation. Eventually this build up becomes overwhelming. Things don’t flow well – our days our filled with strife and conflict. However, if we daily seek forgiveness and reconciliation and connection with our loved ones, our relationships work and flow properly. We are able to grow and strengthen become we have clean emotional slates.

Confess your sins to one another and pray for one another, that you may be healed. The prayer of a righteous person has great power as it is working.      James 5:16

What do you think? Is there someone who you have a gripe with? What can you do today to seek forgiveness and offer grace?

About John Forrest

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