I Still Have A Lot To Learn

Cross-shaped window inside church in Hicksvill...

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Today, at A Holy Experience, we are spending our second Wednesday talking about forgiveness. To be honest, I have sat at my computer for quite a while this morning, struggling with what to write. I wanted to write something deep and comforting. Something helpful and yet profound. Frankly, it all fell flat.This is not the day for that.

I struggle with forgiving others. I understand about forgiveness. I understand that unforgiveness can cause resentment and bitterness. I get it. I do.

And yet…..

the hurt feelings

the betrayal

the lies

the pain

the harsh words

the moments lost

the feelings forgotten

The human part of me wants for the offender to hurt…as much as he/she hurt me. It is an ugly feeling. One for which I am not proud. It makes me feel less, to even admit it. Would it make me feel better? Would it? Would it be settled in my mind if I felt like the offender had their fair share of hurt?

No, probably not.

And the truth is I am no better. I’m sure in my lifetime I have said a lot and done plenty that has left other people raw and wounded. My words have the ability to cut deeper than any knife.

And I am ashamed.

My eyes skimmed across this scripture…and I didn’t feel quite so alone. We humans have a lot to learn, much to be reminded of…

7Lord, you are righteous, but this day we are covered with shame—the people of Judah and the inhabitants of Jerusalem and all Israel, both near and far, in all the countries where you have scattered us because of our unfaithfulness to you. 8 We and our kings, our princes and our ancestors are covered with shame, LORD, because we have sinned against you. 9 The Lord our God is merciful and forgiving, even though we have rebelled against him; 10 we have not obeyed the LORD our God or kept the laws he gave us through his servants the prophets. 11 All Israel has transgressed your law and turned away, refusing to obey you.  Daniel chapter 9  NIV

God is merciful and forgiving…

He who had never sinned, humbled himself to walk among sinners.

His love was so great…

His forgiveness so immense…

And I need to be more like Him.

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How do you forgive?

A Servant’s Heart

The Bible

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I’m teaching the Bible lessons for the 3rd-6th graders this week, at my church’s vacation bible school. Last night’s lesson was from the book of Mark, chapter 10. Even though I’ve grown up hearing these lessons, it just never gets old.

All the 5th and 6th graders eyes were on me…..it was quiet enough to hear a pin drop. (which was unusual for this age group!) I was talking about Jesus telling his disciples (close friends) that He was going to die. He was going to Jerusalem where he would be whipped, beaten, spit upon, cursed at, laughed at, mocked and finally nailed to a cross. One of the most gruesome types of executions of that day.

It’s not a pretty picture.

And yet….the men that Jesus was closest to, didn’t understand. The brothers, James and John, told Jesus that when He got to His kingdom, would it be possible for them to sit on either side of Him? They were thinking only of themselves, and the prestige of being near Jesus. The other disciples were perturbed with James and John, not for their insensitivity towards Jesus prediction of his death, but for trying to grab the best seats–they wanted those places too!

Jesus knew what was going to happen to him. He knew he was walking into a death trap. He knew that things were going to go down a bad path. People would turn on him. He would suffer. He would die.

But, He also knew that He would rise again…..conquer death and see victory.

He KNEW.The stakes were high. He could have cut and run. Baled. Left them. Left us. But He didn’t. His love for us was too great.

I said to the kids, “WHY would Jesus keep going to Jerusalem, when He knew He would be killed?” If it were me, I would have run far away, changed my identity, lived in witness protection. I couldn’t have faced it….the knowing.

Jesus knew the only way for us, as sinners of the worst degree, to be united with God was for Him to die in our place. To sacrifice Himself for us all.

My voice tightened, I could feel the emotion in my words.

I was humbled telling this story to a group of children. Humbled because I was reminded once again of Jesus’ servant’s heart. He made Himself lowly, so that one day we, the forgiven, could be raised up with Him.

Jesus said in Matthew  20: 25-28 that in order to be great one must serve others. Jesus was the perfect example of a servant’s heart towards others. He was fully God, and yet fully man. He gave the blind sight, healed people of life long diseases, caused the crippled to walk, and even raised the dead……and yet still preformed the lowly task of washing the dust from the feet of his friends.

Most days, instead of following Jesus example of servanthood, I find myself feeling better than. As much as I find James and John’s request for seating positions as selfish and full of pride, I have to admit that many days I AM James and John. Much to good. Don’t have the time. Want to be first in line. Impatient. Irritated. Thinking that it’s all about me.

And Jesus words echo… “be a servant”.