A lack of grace

19 Oct

Today, my boss (well, one of them!) preached about forgiveness. And he used Joyce Meyer’s metaphor of a sack of potatoes that one carries around, unaware that they do. Eventually the potatoes get rotten. Meyer’s drift was that that is what happens to our grudges, or the little trespasses that eventually become grudges.

We grow quite fond of them. They form a pretty basic way of thinking and interacting with people, if we hold them long enough.

And he spoke about three types of ‘taters’ – very, very corny. But at least it demystifies my boss for me a little bit 🙂 But the first one – the Compu-tater – was what began to convict me. We decide how much to forgive. We calculate the safest quotient of forgiveness to give a person. It is not complete and the symptom, he pointed out, was having to forgive again and again.

Now I hide behind seventy times seven far too often and today, it hit me how wrong it was. Or perhaps I just never saw it before. That was not a cop-out Jesus gave for not forgiving wholly. That was an instruction to forgive new hurts, new people over and over again.

In my relationships with people, I think I am guilty of ‘forgiving’ but not trusting enough to let go of it. I am afraid of being hurt. Again. I am afraid of making the assumption that things have changed, that they would not do that or say that to me again, only to find out that they do.

But, in reality, I am then afraid to trust God. That He will heal my hurt. I do not need to look to the other person for that. For somehow a remedy for the spillage they’ve committed. But I do. Because my whole worldview is logically narrow.

God’s forgiveness is so different. He forgave – like a long time ago; it was over. And my sin now, and my sinS later, are actually all… kaput. Already. That kind of grace is hard to comprehend, for someone like me. God doesn’t simply forgive… He trusts me – the same clumsy me – with the same precious burden.

Jonah. Gomer. David. Samson. Nebuchadnezzar…

That’s right. It isn’t a list of Biblical super-stars really. Most of them are even famous for their failures rather than their successes – but God trusted them again. And again. And again.

I remember when I was a child – recall this is me, the unforgiving! – that a friend visited. I’m going to modify this story a bit…

We had puppies in the house. These came complete with the family surname in our household.

They lived on my bed, if I could help it. I had lunch with the puppies in the summer holidays. What can I say – I always wanted siblings…. 😉

And my friend dropped my very very new puppy who hadn’t learned to walk yet on the shiny mosaic floor, to the loudest, most pathetic yelp. Puppies of certain breeds can get their legs injured if they are on unsuitable flooring too early on. Moreover, new-born anythings are easily injured if they are dropped hard.

For one thing, my friend was very sorry and didn’t attempt to carry the pup again. But I – I don’t think I would have let her if she wanted to. I couldn’t forget the huge thud my heart gave against what seemed like my diaphragm. It must have jumped several centimeters down and forwards!

And today, I might trust her again but be wary of her clumsiness. I don’t forgive the person. I end up merely forgiving the act.

But I mess up the precious witness of Christ every day. I nailed him to that cross. And he is mine today, and I am his. Despite that…

God’s forgiveness doesn’t require repetition.

Forgetting isn’t forgiving. Simply forgetting something means it can come up with someone else later on – an inability to trust in similar conditions, an over-reaction to a word, an over-drive for self-protection.

I am so guilty of partial forgiveness in so many ways. And it is the people closest to me or to whom I am most vulnerable who hurt from it. Because they have had the power to hurt me most. Because I am more wary of being hurt by them. But, in response, I remember and hold back instead of bringing the hurt to God. Forgiving the whole person forever.

And I can’t do that.

I have been so ungracious, lacking in generosity and trust and forgiveness. Because that’s all my poky corners of my boxed-up soul will allow me. But in bringing it to God, holding the hurt, acknowledging and giving it to God… I ask forgiveness for those times I have hurt others in the holding alone.

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