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I have no special gift for being able to forgive people. It usually takes me a long time, and I often don’t even realize I’ve been holding a grudge until I’ve been carrying it far too long.
One day, I felt like something had to change. I didn’t know what, or why, just something.

I navigated to peacewithgod.net and there requested an online prayer partner. For what turned into 3 straight hours of conversation, this blessed stranger talked me, free of charge, through just about everything that had ever happened to me, culminating in a charge to actually forgive. Truly, deeply, meaningfully, forgive those in my life. Take a notebook, write down all the hurts, go through each, forgive. That, he said, was what was missing.

So I took the charge, and really set time aside to forgive people I remembered. And it was so hard to start, I thought I’d never find the strength to do it. But my God did I feel good afterwards! At the very beginning. I cried and cried, but maybe an hour later, I was the happiest I’d felt in years. Just like a cartoon, it felt like all the little birds in the trees were singing, the grass was swaying — just pure levels of happiness like nothing else this world can give.

As I went through this process, God sent an image to my mind. How lovely it was, and how much it warmed my heart and set everything to healing! I saw Jesus standing with a person that had hurt me a great deal in my past. He was slow-dancing with her, arm around her waist, talking and laughing with her, touching her face. Very intimate moments. And He was soin love. I just stood there, watching how much joy it gave Him to be with this person, as if He had lost her for a very long time and finally had her back in His arms again.

I could not help but feel so happy for Him. It didn’t matter what she had done to me, it mattered that Jesus was with her now, and that He loved her, and His eyes were shining when He looked into hers. The joy welled up in my heart to see my savior so happy. Jealousy tried to tug at my heart, but I knew too well that no level of affection for one person can diminish the intensity of God’s love for any other. I would have the next dance for sure, and in a way, already had this one, too. Anger tried to tap at my shoulder but I just could not stop thinking, “I cannot hatesomething that makes Jesus this happy. If I really love someone, I’m going to try hard to appreciate the people they adore.”

I couldn’t help but feel like I saw something profoundly wrong being made right that day, and with it, a hope that all those prayers for forgiveness for my enemies really will be answered, and God will be able to have those people, cleaned and made good from their sins, just as He is able to have me, also cleaned and made good from all my many sins.

God bless, and have a good weekend.

Your Servant in Christ,

Morgan Grace Hart

The Hypothetical Sinner

There is a hypothetical situation I hear brought up a surprising amount. It goes something like this: ‘a horrible murderer does something terrible to myself or my family. He is sentenced to execution. Minutes before the lethal injection, he repents of his sins and gives his life over to Christ. Should that man’s salvation be taken seriously? Should he really be given the same Heaven that I, or my family, should get?”

Before I answer anything about this question, I want to point out that the penalty for this murderer’s sins were NOT avoided. They were much steeper than the injection, in fact. They included a blindfold, vinegar, nails, thorns, a leaded whip, and heavy, rough-hewn wood. They involved public humiliation, being spat on, being beat up, and being tortured to death. And they were all fulfilled by Jesus, who has volunteered to be a sacrifice for this man’s sins. So the justice you crave has not been denied to you one bit; it’s been bled out, severely, humiliatingly, over the course of many, many hours. The problem in your heart is that you expected this sentence to be carried out on the body of the murderer, not on the body of your Lord.

But think of it this way – all through the legal process, this murderer has had access to government-granted rights, which you also share. These include, among other things, the right to legal counsel, the right to be spared punishment deemed overly cruel or unusual, the right to food, and so forth. You would not realistically want these rights taken away from the murderer because, of course, you or someone you love may someday be arrested, and you want these rights to be applicable to you and yours. These are rights for all American citizens. Now, just as this man has his American rights, he has spiritual rights. The worse he has sinned, and the less life he has left, the more impossible it becomes for him to pay that debt he owes to God. The only options left to the man are atonement or Hell, and he has chosen atonement. God has granted him and all others the ability to trust in Jesus’ sacrifice for forgiveness of sins. And if some colossal sinner decides, at the very end of life, that he wants that wonderful forgiveness, then yes, he escapes the pain of his sins and receives a joy which he has not earned. But NONE of us were ever good enough to deserve eternal joy, not a one of us. You may have led a decent life, you may deserve some joy, but eternal joy? A perfect life? In the presence of the most holy of all beings? Even the most precursory self-searching should show that you no more belong in God’s Heavenly court than a potato! And actually that potato would have a much better claim than you!

The fact that you – and others – receive salvation should not be an upset to you. It makes happy the heart of God. You, as someone who cares about God, should try to share his happiness when a sinner repents, even if it is difficult for you yourself to forgive. You can separate your pain, grieve what has happened, and thirst for resolution. But please, do not become angry that God shows mercy, because he shows it to all. And your only comfort out of this tragedy may be to try to share God’s joy in watching one less soul go to Hell. After all, a thousand years from now, I would much rather see my enemy in peaceful service and communion with those I love, giving love to them in return, than watch his pointless suffering for a sin already paid for. And if he chose repentance and salvation, that is the outcome that his soul craves, too, even if his decision was made under duress.

So if it bothers you that every “customer’s” debt has been paid, you should examine your soul, and your relationship to Christ. Because the start of a relationship with Christ is to realize he died for your sins; maturity involves realizing that he died for the sins committed against you.

God bless you, and have a good weekend.

Please message the author for scriptural references.

Forgiveness and Texting

I didn’t write an entry this week, but I kept thinking about a text conversation I had once. Here is my side of the dialogue, plus some extra:

Forgiveness is hard, but what I’ve ultimately learned is that the love I have with God is such a good thing that it tends to push back hate. I think the best explanation about forgiveness comes from a man who was tortured for 14 years under Nazis then Stalin for refusing to denounce his Christian beliefs:

He said he was able to forgive those who tortured him because he knew that in Heaven, his guardian angel stood next to the guardian angel of the torturer… and they were both standing in the presence of God, trying desperately to get their respective man home safely.

Also, I feel responsible for the death and torture of Christ, because if I had not been a sinner, He would not have had to die for me. So if He can turn His blood-covered face toward me and say, “yes, I forgive you, and I love you, and I want you to be a part of my life forever”… well, I may not have that much love, but I should at least try. And the more I let his love in, the more it takes over, and I start to feel his pity for all the broken people of the world. I think, “of course they’re terrible to me! They’ve grown up in this messed up world, they’ve got baggage and brokenness and they don’t know the love that I have here in Christ”.

Basically I’m just too happy with Jesus, and that house is so full of love, that I don’t want it to be tainted by external forces like hate.

I realized once in prayer, that when I face Christ, seeing Him crucified, He died not only for my sins, but the sins of the whole world… That includes those sins others have done to me. My sins die there with Him, but also, the hurts that have been inflicted on me through the sins of others are nailed and dying on the cross. That gives me strength, to know those past hurts are dead.

God bless you, and have a good weekend.

Love, Morgan Grace Hart