Day 1: Forgiveness
Entering the Lenten season, I realize that one of the things I desperately need to give up is chronic pain. Not chronic physical pain, but chronic emotional pain, the kind that comes from hanging onto old, inflicted wounds with two closed fists.
Forgiveness is the key, I’m told.
(I’m told that a lot.)
And I believe it. Yet forgiveness never seems quite able to clean house all the way.
That’s probably because I haven’t allowed it to get in the corners and under the furniture and into the backs of the cabinets. I let forgiveness give pain ‘a lick and a promise’, as my grandmother used to say when she didn’t have time to do things the way they should be done, so she did just enough to fool the neighbors if they stopped by.
So, over these next 40 days I’m going to let forgiveness have its way with me and my house. I’m going to practice forgiveness not as some esoteric vapor that floats around my head for a few minutes when I’m feeling especially spiritual, but as the practical, daily outflow of becoming more like Christ.
I’m going to start the first quarter of Lent asking what the Fruits of the Spirit mean to forgiveness, then spend the next ten days looking at forgiveness through the character of Jesus. The third ten days I’ll examine the mess of me and my unforgiveness as it’s juxtaposed against the perfection of Christ. For the last quarter of Lent, culminating with Holy Week, I’ll try to let Jesus speak to me of forgiveness through his approach to the cross and triumph over it.
Feel free to pull up a chair.
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For if you forgive others their trespasses, your heavenly Father will also forgive you, but if you do not forgive others their trespasses, neither will your Father forgive your trespasses. – Matthew 6:14-15
* * *Today, this first day of Lent, I commit myself to the practice of forgiveness. I want to release every anger, grudge, vindictive memory, and self-centered attitude to which I cling. I want to walk in the freedom of Christ’s words, “as we forgive those who trespass against us”. God, I ask that you’ll bring to mind today things I need to turn over to you and let go of for good. Thank you that you forgave me first. Help me to forgive, and quickly.
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With questions for personal meditation and space for journaling, this 40-day devotional series offers a deeper look at Christ's command that we forgive. For a personal pilgrimage, or as a resource for group Bible study,40 Graces for Forgiveness: a Healing Journey invites seekers of forgiveness and healing to the path on which God longs to meet us all. $6.49 at Amazon.com. Find out more about 40 Graces for Forgiveness: a Healing Journey.