We have all read inspiring stories about the power of forgiveness and its positive influence in our world. And to varying degrees we have all experienced it. Both having to forgive someone and having to seek forgiveness from someone. In this blog I want to zero in on forgiving others. C.S. Lewis said that “everyone says forgiveness is a lovely idea until they have something to forgive.”
This is so true, forgiving someone who has deeply wronged us is much harder than any of us have imagined because forgiveness, mercy and grace are not our usual default position. We gravitate more to revenge and retribution and compensation.
It is difficult for us to accept and welcome the notion that those people who have wounded us, get to be included in God’s embrace when they turn to him. How do we feel about that? Sometimes I would rather God’s justice be dished out to certain people rather than his grace and embrace.
The really really hard part though, comes when I realise that God expects me to also forgive, accept and embrace that person. “Has God graciously forgiven you?” Paul asks, “Then graciously forgive one another.” (Ephesians 4:32 TPT)
If we are to find that still place of peace, contentment and joy, then we have to learn to deal with the necessity of walking in forgiveness.
I started off this series with a few bible characters in mind and the more I have thought about it the bigger it has become. EVERY bible character – EVERY person – has an identity, a destiny and many defining moments in their lives. I could write a blog every week on a different character, both biblical and historical, and never exhaust the supply of illustrations of people who have risen to their potential – and sadly, many who have not.
Defining moments come our way and our destiny is determined by the response we make regarding them. There are just as many sad stories as there are triumphant ones.
None of us like pain or trauma. We crave comfort and ease. Yet nothing moves us more than the stories of people who have overcome hardship and disadvantages to excel in life.
All of us will experience troubled times to some degree. It’s part and parcel of being human. And how we respond determines the kind of person we become and the impact we have on our families and community. Life’s difficulties, in fact, can be the catalyst to propel us into our God-ordained destiny.
We admire people who triumph in life and we like to think of ourselves as one for excels, but we forget that we can’t become an over-comer unless we have something to overcome. We can’t be a victor if there is no battle to fight.
Joseph, Ruth and Esther, are favourite biblical characters who became legends because they discovered and fulfilled their destiny in life. We love their stories not only because of the impact they had on their societies, but because they had to overcome deep personal pain and trauma in the process.
Ever feel like you’ve missed the boat as far as your destiny is concerned? Life has not turned out the way you envisioned. The years have slipped by and you haven’t achieved what you had in your heart to do. Moses probably felt that way when his defining moment presented itself while he was tending his father-in-law’s sheep in the desert. At age 80. This inspiring man was about to begin his God-ordained destiny. Let’s take a look at what brought him to this moment in time.
It’s Good Friday and my thoughts turn toward Jesus and the events of Calvary. I cringe and draw back from the violence of that day. It’s too easy to gloss over Friday and fast forward to Easter Sunday and the resurrection. But today I let myself ponder as I reread the story in the Gospels. I’m sure Jesus never cherished the thought of the cross, except for the solution to sin that it would usher in. His love propelled him on through that dreadful Friday.
I’ve been thinking over the past few weeks about defining moments in Jesus’ life, and there was none more important than the incident in the Garden of Gethsemane, the night of his betrayal. On this Good Friday it is appropriate that we take time to think about it and ask the question; What if Jesus actually decided to call those legions of angels to set him free?
Life’s circumstances lead us to defining moments that clarify for us who we are and what our destiny is. There will be many defining moments in our lives and each one leads us into God’s plan and purposes for our lives.
God can do a lot in a few years. Take Jesus’ life for instance. Of his 33 years on this earth, his ministry came at the final 3 years of his life. For him too, there were many defining moments along the way and each one took him closer to the fulfilment of his destiny; to the purpose for which he came to earth.
Have you ever pondered the big questions in life? Who am I? Why am I here? Do I have a purpose? Most of us have at some point struggled with these issues. And they are important ones. Some people, including Christians, struggle through life not knowing where they actually fit and if they have any real purpose in life.
We are going to look at some biblical characters over the next few blogs who found their answers to these important questions. Firstly though, let me say it is never too late to discover the answers and to step up into who we were created to be. Many of the happenings in our lives are actually preparation for what God wants us to do. Life’s circumstances lead us to defining moments that clarify for us who we are and what our destiny is. And, as we will see, God can do a lot in a few years.
Re-reading the Christmas accounts recently I was alerted to two miracle birth stores that are foundational to the event we call Christmas. The whole story is actually one huge miracle that has impacted our world like no other. The Son of God – The Word, who spoke our universe into existence – became flesh and entered this world as a tiny babe via the womb of a teenage virgin. We read in the Gospels about Mary and her cousin Elizabeth and the miraculous birth of their boys.
Just two ordinary women, going about their daily lives, suddenly interrupted in their routines with the startling angelic message that they would bear significant sons. One boy, John, was destined to pave the way for the other, Jesus, who would change the course of history.
I don’t usually comment politically as I want to keep this blog page about encouraging ourselves to find that sweet spot of connection and closeness with God. That still place – where we find our peace and the encouraging challenge to better ourselves – is important for our emotional and spiritual health. However it has been impossible to be unaware of the political turmoil in our world. Or to be untroubled by the tension we see all around us. I have been particularly aware and uneasy about the huge gap that has emerged between those who favour the left wing and those who support the right wing. It seems everyone’s leaning is more pronounced than ever, and shock! horror! if you mention anything positive on the opposite side. The tension and verbal attacking has blown out into hostile actions and our democratic world is sitting on a powder keg. There is no respect for views other than our own and the idea of listening to each other and assessing or readjusting our position even slightly is arrogantly shunned.
Well I’m back after a month or so to continue our series on finding out about God from his creation. My focus has been elsewhere, and I’ve been busy, but now I’m ready again to continue blogging.
Order & Interdependency (connectedness)
Just as God created the galactic worlds to be ordered and connected and to work harmoniously, so also he has created interdependence among life on earth. Everything flows in an ordered manner. Order occurs when everything is in its correct and appropriate place. Sustained order is needed so that the whole of God’s creation flows and works together in a balanced manner.
Ecosystems are communities of living and non-living things that work together. An ecosystem can be as large as a desert or a lake or as small as a tree or a puddle. The water, water temperature, plants, animals, air, light and soil all work together. If there isn’t enough light or water or if the soil doesn’t have the right nutrients, the plants will die. If the plants die, animals that depend on them will die. If the animals that depend on the plants die, any animals that depend on those animals as a food source will die. All the parts work together to make a balanced system!