Tuesday, January 24, 2012

Forgiving's sake!

I've been provoked lately to talk to God about the concept of forgiveness. In November and December, just in time for the holidays, I came down with a bad case of non-forgiveness. I had two different family members do me wrong, in my perspective, and make no attempt at a even a semblance of an apology. So, I hunkered down and became self-indulgently bitter. It wasn't so much of a conscious decision of embitterment as it was a thick mud out of which I could not seem to step. Any I kept thinking I should forgive, and I should try, but by my own willpower I couldn't do it.

Image from here
And then, for some reason, I let go. I had several conversations with people I love and respect and realized that there was nothing I could do to try to forgive. I just had to ask God to help me. I find God often brings me back to the there is no way I can do this on my own thought before he is going to do something really cool in my life. Often when I have that thought I know I am ready to hear his voice. Thus, in early January, I stopped trying to forgive and simply decided to learn more about forgiveness. For me this small step has meant reading a scripture verse or two each week and asking God what he has to tell me through it. One verse in particular has stood out to me. It says:

If you are going to give a gift to God, but you know someone has a grudge against you, go and resolve the conflict. Be reconciled to that person. Then, after you have a resolution, you can go and present your offering to God. 
(Paraphrase of Matthew 5:23-24)

I had Adam read the verse after I did because I wanted to make sure it really says that if someone has something against you, YOU can go make it right. I've been talking to God about this scripture because, although I am less stuck in the mud of bitterness, I still don't understand how and why it is my responsibility to be reconciled to a person when they have taken no action towards a resolution. Any thoughts? Have you had an experience with forgiveness or unforgiveness that relates to this scripture

Tuesday, January 10, 2012

The eternal, intentional and incidental

My father-in-law died unexpectedly about a month ago. It is true that he was 83 years young, and he did have some health issues, but the call was jarring, and his death a true loss. As I was thinking about him, so much came to mind, especially since I just got to spend time with him at Thanksgiving, and then about ten days before his heart attack. The day before his memorial I wrote down two words... intentional and incidental.
At his service I was unsure about speaking, but when it came time, I knew that I wanted to share some of what I had observed of this man over the past thirty years. I am a firm believer that some of the most important things I have learned from others have been incidental... that is, the person was not "trying" to teach me something important, but rather was being intentional in how they lived and what they believed in, and as they shared life with me, I was moved, challenged or transformed. This was my father-in-law's way of being. He was very intentional in his faith and his love for others, praying for them, taking action when appropriate, and coming along side in interest of the other. However it was not for show, or to have an agenda for another, and I believe that is why he was such a person of influence for the God he knew and loved.
So, I have added the word eternal to my list of descriptors, because I believe that what Earl lived out of most importance is eternal, and will speak of him and His God forever.