I’m no smart guy. I graduated from college with a 3.2 GPA and a degree in broadcasting I did nothing with.
I don’t have an “M.D” after my name or a prefix identifying me as some sort of official, highfalutin congressman or senator or whatever the hell else you need a prefix for.
I’ve failed miserably in life at times. I once found myself in a drunken stupor on the side of the highway in the early morning hours trying to make it to my truck I had left downtown after a friend of mine took me home.
I am nobody “special”. Katy Perry doesn’t even know I exist.
Yet, I have come to realize something: you don’t have to be special to partake in one of the great mysteries of the Universe.
That mystery? It’s forgiveness.
Yesterday was the 32nd anniversary of when Pope John Paul II was shot four times by a would-be assassin. Shortly after recovering from his wounds, the Pope forgave the man for his attempt at taking his life saying, “Pray for my brother… who I have sincerely forgiven.” The Pope and the failed assassin went of to even form a friendship. A friendship (I’m assuming) that probably led to many awkward silences.
Now, I don’t know about you, but no matter how much of a devout Christian I am I think it would be extremely hard to forgive someone who shoots me four times.
But didn’t Jesus forgive us for denying, whipping, kicking, punching, spitting-on and then crucifying him?
What makes forgiveness so amazing is that once you genuinely forgive someone, the first and often the only person to be healed is the person who does the forgiveness. When we genuinely forgive, we set a prisoner free and then discover that the prisoner we set free… was us.
I had been working hard to forgive my father for things he did that affected me well into my thirties. I wrote him a letter (that I still haven’t delivered) that came from my heart and is riddled with forgiveness. I realized after writing this letter that the ONLY THING HARDER than forgiveness is the alternative.
Whether I knew it or not, I was harboring resentment. It wasn’t something I thought about every day but it was something that stained me and hardened my heart. With the forgiveness I have freely given, I have disengaged him from his hurtful acts and now I don’t identify him as someone who has done me wrong, but rather someone who needs my help. I have recreated my past by recreating the person whose wrongs made my past painful.
Is there someone you haven’t forgiven that will set you free if you do?
Then came Peter to him, and said, Lord, how oft shall my brother sin against me, and I forgive him? till seven times? Jesus said to him, I say not to you, Until seven times: but, until seventy times seven. – Matthew 18:21 & 22