From spark to floodlight

I started this day out in turmoil as I looked at the world around me; this political hate filled division is ripping this country apart. The pressure to afford the stuff that is constantly presented as “you deserve” and the feeling of failure when it is not actually obtainable. I can’t wrap my head around how people can be so offended by the silliest of things and then blatantly offend other people like they have a right too? The world considers this a Christian nation so what is the message the church is presenting? The last few days the topic of forgiveness has been presented to me in some pretty cool ways but this morning is a story I must tell. Walking from the parking garage to the building today I followed two ladies. The older of the two had just celebrated her 40th wedding anniversary and the younger lady asks how she managed to keep her marriage good for so long. Lots of prayer and forgiveness was the answer and the younger lady said “that is a common response but I can’t find anyone worth investing that much work into”. The best part of the conversation was the older ladies response to that statement, “there is nobody worth that effort and when you realize everyone else feels the same way God has something to work with”. It was hard to cover up my giggle in the dead silence that followed. I have learned from experience that when I truly pray for someone expecting God’s best for them I learn to love them but forgiveness cost me something. It can be money if someone breaks something and I say “forget it”, it’s ok”, then I agree to buy a new one or just accept the loss. If someone hurts my feelings, offends me, or embarrasses me and I forgive them I set aside my need to be the most important and accept being humble. Forgiveness is not me allowing someone else to impose their will on me but me understanding the cost and then willingly paying it. As that information rolled around in my head my first response is why do I have to pay? Reading today in Ephesians 1:  7In him we have redemption through his blood, the forgiveness of our trespasses, according to the riches of his grace, 8which he lavished upon us, in all wisdom and insight.  I found my answer. Jesus paid a huge price for my forgiveness and daily I am back needing more grace, “who am I that He should be mindful of me”. Prayer and forgiveness are the very things the body of Christ needs to practice most; it points to the only thing that brings us life. I am so thankful to have been rescued from what I deserved and I believe when I stop needing forgiveness I will be justified in withholding it. The enemy is alive and well and “seeking whom he may devour”, the church is the light in the darkness and a beacon for those who are lost so in the midst of all the hate, slander, and racism where is my forgiveness? I do not have to blindly accept wrong but two wrongs don’t make anything right so I am called to be the church, to live what is true and to give what I have so freely been given.  The secret to choosing joy is “finally, brothers, whatever is true, whatever is honorable, whatever is just, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is commendable, if there is any excellence, if there is anything worthy of praise, think about these things” and let my light so shine before all men!

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