Posts Tagged ‘forgiveness’

No Wiggle Room

Monday, February 17th, 2014

The USA Today carried the remarkable story of Rosaria Bankundiye and Saveri Nemeye neighbors in the village of Mbyo in Rwanda. The bottom line of the story is that sixteen years ago Saveri along with others of his genocidaires murdered Rosaria’s entire family and left her for dead; yet, today they live side by side and Rosaria has forgiven him. After his release from prison Saveri sought out Rosaria seeking her forgiveness. Astonishingly his request was granted! The way Rosaria saw it she and the murderer shared a common connection. Calling herself a sinner too, she considers forgiveness not as an option but as a requirement. In our “get even”, “tit for tat” culture most will find her forgiveness mind-bogglingly incredible. But the story doesn’t stop with the “required” forgiveness. No, Rosaria has gone the extra several miles that most would not even consider. Today Rosaria and Saveri live as graciously interactive neighbors in complete reconciliation.

This year I am celebrating twenty-four years of ministry. Over those years I’ve counseled countless people who have been abused, neglected, betrayed, maligned, ignored, abandoned, cheated and double-crossed among multiple other wrongs. What I have observed is that folks who have come to the point of forgiving their offender continue to thrive despite the offense; whereas, those that refuse forgiveness set themselves out on a self-imposed descent into the black, hopeless abyss of deterioration, destruction and depression.

When I was young I figured that the rules in the Bible were put there to take the fun out of life. Today, as a survivor myself, I know that they are put there to afford us the greatest opportunity for the life we’ve always wanted.  Jesus clearly taught without any wiggle room whatsoever that we are to forgive anyone and everyone who offends us — no asterisks, no footnotes, and no disclaimers. Unless you have forgiven everybody, then Jesus is not Lord of your life. You are! Who are you allowing to control your life by withholding your forgiveness?

Something to think about.

Who Would Have Ever Thought?

Wednesday, February 5th, 2014

As usual we were on our way to the “Y” just before 5 PM.  As we crested the hill behind Publix, we saw the black smoke soaring high into the late afternoon sky. “Somebody’s house is on fire,” I thought. As we turned into the driveway of the Bellevue YMCA we saw the flames. They were not regular flames and we could tell that it was not a house burning. I recall thinking, “Why aren’t there any sirens?” About that time a shaken “Y” employee told us to turn around and leave because a plane had just crashed and the building was being evacuate.  At that moment the wail of emergency equipment seemed to erupt in perfect sync from all directions as first responders rushed to the point of impact. They came in waves and then they came some more. So many came that I feared that perhaps an airliner had gone down. We knew nobody could survive the flames and were praying that it was not a big plane.

As we sit there in bumper to bumper traffic amid the unfolding chaos, I thanked God that the plane had not hit any buildings. From what I learned later, that was probably not by chance but a final act of love from Glenn Mull, the pilot.  I wondered who the victims were and what must have been going on in that doomed plane. I wondered if they were prepared for death and if they had any unfinished business. Was there something they needed to say? Was there someone they needed to forgive?  Was there something they needed to let go?

Who would have ever thought that a plane would crash at the Y, in a small patch of grass, outside a building I spend so much time inside? Your next breath could be your last; do not put anything off that you need to do. Do it right now.

 Something to Think About

Virus Alert

Wednesday, June 19th, 2013

A while back I walked into McDonalds and there were about 20 little kids on an end of school outing. They were having the time of their lives. The teachers were doing their  best to keep them quite, but without success. While watching I concluded that God and the teachers have something in common. God is talking, but many are not listening.

God tells us not to lie, cheat and steal. He says not to covet our next door neighbor’s Lexus or his wife. Repeatedly he tells us not to envy and what he puts together is not to be broken apart.  Yet over half our marriages end in divorce. God tells us to always have class and never let our pride and jealously get the best of us.  Jesus, who was the greatest of teachers, boiled all the do’s and don’ts down to the simplest terms when he said just love God and love others.  He tells us to extend that love to our enemies and to forgive folks for the trespasses they commit against us.

I used to think that command was all about the other guy. Why should I forgive the man who abused me? Why should I forgive the guy who swiped my stuff at the gym? Why should I forgive the degenerate who stole my Bobble Head Jesus right out of my church office? Rule of thumb – never steal Jesus!  Why should I forgive anybody for anything?  Why not just hold their feet to the fire, be just as mean and nasty, be classless, make their lives miserable and hate them for the next twenty years?

Two reasons:  First, God gave us ears so we are supposed to be listeners.  Second, it doesn’t work; it is in our best interest to love, forgive and get on with our lives. We are hearing a lot lately about the West Nile Virus after several batches of Music City mosquitoes tested positive. The truth is the world has been in the clutches of a deadly virus almost since the beginning of time. It’s the super germ of resentment. Cain’s resentment killed Able. Resentment has wounded your soul and robbed your happiness time after time.

For thousands of years God has screaming at the top of his lungs, “Guys and gals listen to me.” He loves us and because of the depth of His love, He’s gone to considerable trouble to figure out the perfect plan for you and me to get the most out of life. If you want a better life simply follow His instructions.

Something to think about.