This past month, I wrote about having one focus for July. Now that the month is almost over, a few things are becoming clear.
My focus for July was on a few things:
painting all wooden structures, fences etc in our backyard.
a staycation, enjoying rest, solitude and friendships, while my husband was out of town for work.
and meditating on the way that Jesus offered forgiveness in the gospels.
As I focused on just these three things, there was a very simple and quiet theme that emerged throughout the month. If I could sum it up in one word it would be truth.
The truth about our backyard is that all the wooden structures needed paint. I could tell you that it was fine, but the truth was that paint was faded, peeling and things were looking shabby and it wasn’t restful on the eyes.
The truth about my staycation is that I needed rest from people. Even though my husband was visiting family whom I love on his work trip, I needed time at home more. That was the truth. I found great joy in walking to the store by myself, tidying the house, reading, cooking, calling up friends for coffee and sleeping in.
And most refreshing of all, is that I realized the truth about how Jesus offered forgiveness. He didn’t sweep things under the carpet and say, “It’s all good, no worries, you’re forgiven.” Nope. He knew, 100%, because he was God-incarnate, all the sins people had ever done or would do. He knew it all. He was completely aware of each and every way that someone had turned to something else to find life or satisfaction besides God and had therefore sinned. So whether Jesus spoke out loud about that person’s heart to them in the moment or just told them they were forgiven, it was in FULL knowledge of what they had done.
So as I painted my fence, and enjoyed my staycation, God brought many things to my mind. I thought if I was meditating on forgiveness and reading through the gospels, I would have a warm and fuzzy month thinking about it. But just the opposite happened. Forgiveness is hard work. It requires remembering and naming things and acknowledging that harm was done. If we say that we forgive someone and we can’t quite remember what happened, it falls flat. It is useless.
If we place ourselves in any of those stories in the gospels where Jesus looked someone in the eye and spoke to them about their sin AND forgave them, it’s an intense moment. I mean, imagine, Jesus sitting with you or I right now. And whether or not we are even aware of how we’ve turned to other things besides Him, like worry, obsessive behaviours, addictions, busy-ness, depending on social media for affirmation . . . Jesus would look into the depths of our soul, and see, and name it, and forgive us. Intense.
So to consider that we are forgiven that way, imagine how we must forgive those who have harmed us. It’s not a light thing. It’s not a “just get over it” idea. It’s acknowledging that harm WAS done, that we hurt, and that it affected us, and that Jesus knows it fully. And as we think about and feel that pain again, maybe in a fresh way, we glance over at Jesus. He’s sitting with us, quietly, calmly, and He understands. We see his hands, the scars from the nails, and we’re aware that He suffered for our sin. For the ways that we caused harm. He suffered. He paid the penalty so that we don’t have to. So we turn to that person who harmed us, and then we look back at Jesus again. We cannot NOT forgive . . . because we have been forgiven.
Is there a truth that you’ve been denying? A fence that needs to be painted, the reality of a broken relationship that needs to be addressed? Jesus came in grace AND truth. Both. Not one, not the other, but both. This is where we find freedom, in the intense gaze of Jesus’ love for us. He knows it all. He wants us to stop pretending, denying and making excuses for what is really, actually, kind of shabby looking. Truth is where change begin to happen.
I remember hearing someone say, “Read the Bible from front to back, but never, ever, ignore the gospels, because that’s where you meet Jesus face to face.”
May your next month be one of experiencing Jesus that closely.