{re}fresh

Tag: forgiven sin

Forgiveness: sometimes it’s like running a marathon

by Dawn Aldrich

Finish line at Disneyland's Star Wars Half Marathon

Finish line at Disneyland’s Star Wars Half Marathon

Forgive as quickly and completely as the Master forgave you. And regardless of what else you put on, wear love. It’s your basic, all-purpose garment. Never be without it. Colossians 3:14 (MSG)

My husband just ran his first half marathon and I couldn’t be more proud. As he crossed the finish line and limped his way through the medals line, he said he almost blubbered like a baby—not from physical pain, but because he accomplished a significant milestone.

If forgiveness were a race, I’d be a plodder. In fact, when it came to forgiving my dad, it took me thirty-five years to even get off the couch and start training! It’s a common story, Dad walks out on the family, leaving behind wounded hearts, but the pain an absent father causes hurts just the same.

For years I prayed, “God, please bring my daddy home. Put my family back together the way it was, please.” However, when he did return to remarry my mother, just before I turned seventeen, life became unexpectedly awkward. Filled with mistrust, I’d built thick, protective walls around my heart so no one—especially my dad—could hurt me again. Although my lips uttered, “I forgive you,” I didn’t forgive my father heart deep.

Fast forward 28 years. I attended a woman’s retreat where the speaker taught on the names of God. Based on the name Abba (Father), she asked us to list all the positive lessons our earthly father had taught us. “Yeah, right!” I scoffed. “What positive lessons could my father have taught me, God? He walked out on me, remember?”

God and I wrestled until dawn when I finally limped toward the chapel, journal in hand. I blasted God for daring to open that closed chapter in my life. Finally, God asked, “Are you done yet?” And God did an amazing thing. He showed me all the positive lessons I learned from my earthly father—because of how God created him and despite his sin. Most importantly, God reminded me that He freely forgave my father, so who was I to withhold forgiveness from him?

I’d love to say I ran home and forgave my father, but I didn’t. I wrestled with God for seven months until I finally surrendered. As I freely released forgiveness, heaven’s gates opened and God’s fullest love and blessing spilled over me.

Forgiveness can be a difficult and painful ordeal. For some, offering forgiveness may be like running a marathon—it may take years of healing and processing before we’re ready. But, whether we forgive quickly or not, the important thing is that we do forgive one another—heart deep and with love.

Is there a person you find difficult to forgive? Won’t you ask Jesus to help you see that person through His eyes and, with His help, make steps toward forgiving that person? Forgiveness doesn’t mean we forget the sins against us, but that we release the hold their sin has against us.

Abba, help us to freely forgive those who’ve wounded us. We surrender our unforgiving hearts and pray for courage to release the hold their sin has had on us and to set them free from our unforgiveness.

The Empty Suitcase

by Dawn Aldrich

 Sharing stories gives voice to the silent ones locked deep within another soul. When we step aside and let the Holy Spirit use our words to unlock those stories, we bring God’s encouragement, healing, vision, and transformation that can change a life, a family, a community, the world. 

My friend, Lynne, has a story to tell: 

Somehow I did not expect God to touch my heart so deeply “at just another Easter service,” but  he did.

When Pastor Wes spoke of the empty tomb, I expected to hear that old familiar story. But, God surprised me. Oh, the story never changes, but my perspective transformed on Easter Sunday. In the reading of Jesus’ resurrection story, Pastor Wes pointed out that the stone was rolled away to let us see Jesus was gone, but also to let us in to see the real miracle.  Yes, Jesus’ body was gone (raised from the dead) leaving the tomb obviously empty, but continuing, he reminded us that all sin was gone.  Sin did not hold Jesus in the grave.  Halleluiah!  And because of His sacrifice all of our sins are not only forgiven, but gone.  The tomb is open.  All sin is gone.

I know you are asking…so what does this have to do with the title, The Empty Suitcase?  Well, I realized that I have been carrying around a suitcase packed full of my sins.  Over the years it has gotten heavier and heavier and heavier.

baggage

Oh, certainly I have sought and received God’s forgiveness, but then I repacked my suitcase with those same sins; all covered by the blood of Jesus and ready for my trip to heaven.   I thought they were all secure in the suitcase, but it was as if they were seeping out to remind me of my failures.  Making me feel unworthy of God’s love or anyone’s acceptance.

Then God said, “Open up the suitcase, Lynne.”  And in my mind I did just that and guess what I found? It was empty!

suitcase

The true reality of forgiven sin took my breath away.  My sins are gone.  No more.  So why do I allow them to tear me apart with guilt and shame?  After pondering this revelation, I closed that suitcase and kicked it to the cellar.  I have no use for it anymore.  Once forgiven, my sin and yours disappears – gone.  Will I remember my sins?  Oh yes, but rather than feeling guilt and shame,  my heart is filled with love and thanksgiving to my Lord Jesus Christ for his great grace and sacrifice.

I hope you are not carrying around a heavy, sin-packed,  seeping suitcase.  I pray that you know the fullness of forgiven sin and the reality of the empty tomb {and an empty suitcase}.

Blessings,

Lynne

About Lynne Bowen: Lynne is a generous friend, devoted mother, grandmother and  follower of Christ living in New England. She loves teaching young and old alike about God’s saving graces. She enjoys playing piano and solving jigsaw puzzles.

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