We have just returned home from a remarkable week away with the national leaders from across our movement. I went into the week with a strong hope in what God would do amongst us but no clear picture of what the journey or the outcomes would look like; by the end of the week I felt like child, wide eyed with wonder, who’s parent was showing them round a new exciting adventure park! Much of what happened is not for me to share in this forum, however there are a number of things I have been exploring recently that came together in high definition for me during the week; these I will share.
I have heard it said that God often reaches us through those he places around us. Till a couple of weeks ago I have believed this to be true only of the common graces like encouragement, provision, confirmation, direction – that sort of thing; it couldn’t possibly mean the more fundamental graces like God’s forgiveness or his act of redemption or his self-sacrificing, love… could it?
Just a couple of days ago a hurt happened between myself and a friend. We had to put it right. As we talked honestly, sharing our weaknesses and exchanging forgiveness, I realised something significant was taking place. It wasn’t just my forgiveness that I was releasing, it was Jesus’ forgiveness. I wasn’t just receiving my friends forgiveness, I was receiving the Father’s. Suddenly in that moment, ‘forgive us as we forgive others’ and ‘if you forgive anyone sin’s they are forgiven, if you don’t they aren’t’ made perfect sense. I felt the reality of God’s forgiveness and grace in that moment.
The giving of forgiveness not only releases us from emotional angst, it actually releases something in the heavens. ‘Whatever you lose on earth will be loosed in heaven and whatever you bind on earth will be bound in heaven.’ God makes you and I the deliverers and distributers of the most precious gift of grace that he created for us. If I was God I would make sure it was hand delivered every time, I would not trust another soul with that task, after all it cost me my whole life and an eternity of suffering. He obviously thinks otherwise!
So, over the last two weeks I have seen in ways both small and big how your selfless love for me keeps me in the Father’s love and how, when you forgive me, I experience heaven’s forgiveness and grace.