There is an appointed time for everything. And there is a time for every event under heaven – a time to embrace and a time to shun embracing, a time to search and a time to give up as lost. from Eccl.3.
We have been asking questions about broken relationship. How do we know when to throw open our arms to a hard-fought embrace and when to drop them in acceptance? When to hold on to a lost treasure and when to let it go with a benediction? It is easier for one of us to search, and for one of us to give up as lost. Which is the way of the Cross?
Definition: Forgive: to give before or ahead of.
Wounds heal or fester. When my children cry from their little bodily injuries, I pour oil on their hurts and tell them, Be brave. It will get better. God made our bodies to heal. When we break and are broken, I hear Him whisper over me: Be brave. Give before and ahead of. I made your heart to heal.
Resentment is like a glass of poison that a man drinks; then he sits down and waits for his enemy to die. Nelson Mandela.
Fear is the enemy of forgiveness. Fooled me once, shame on you. Fooled me twice, shame on me. Right? To let go quietly, behind closed doors, in a cocoon of self-protection, that is one thing. But to reconcile in the Light, to joyfully restore, that is something else entirely. It is a breathtaking risk, because there is always the possibility that wounds will lacerate us again. Trust, forgiveness, fear, danger, restoration.
Don’t worry whether or not they finally understand you. Love them and release them. Life feeds back truth to people in its own way and time—just like it does for you and me. Sara Paddison.
I have taken my wounds and sealed them in a jar. Perhaps we all have. Now what do we do with the jar? Some broken treasures cannot be salvaged this side of eternity, and that is the deep sadness of this fallen space. Sometimes we need to greet and acknowledge that reality. Sometimes moving on is the greater grace. A time to give up as lost. Other times we are called to put the full weight of trust on restoration. We may choose, each of us, to give before and ahead of, to gamble our hearts in order to gain them back. A time to embrace.
Which time is this?
Forgiveness is giving up the possibility of a better past. Unknown.
There once was another woman who held a sealed jar. A woman in that town who lived a sinful life learned that Jesus was eating at the Pharisee’s house, so she came there with an alabaster jar of perfume. As she stood behind him at his feet weeping, she began to wet his feet with her tears. Then she wiped them with her hair, kissed them and poured perfume on them. Luke 7:37-18. This broken woman offered the wages of her sin to the One who considered her alabaster offering a precious gift instead of a symbol of her wicked life. She broke open her pain at His feet, gave it to the One who forgave her, who gave before.
I am that woman. I have broken others and been broken in return. I deserve rejection but desire grace.
I say to you, her sins, which are many, have been forgiven, for she loved much; but he who is forgiven little, loves little. Luke 7:47.
What happens before and after forgiveness?
Love is patient, love is kind and is not jealous; love does not brag and is not arrogant, does not act unbecomingly; it does not seek its own, is not provoked, does not take into account a wrong suffered, does not rejoice in unrighteousness, but rejoices with the truth; bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things. Love never fails. 1 Cor. 13:4-8.
With her broken offering, she reflected His Divine Love. It is not trite to proclaim that Love is always the answer. Love is the banner He has hung over us. Love is the triumph of the strong saints.
Love is also the dividing line of wisdom. As we all circle our important questions, we should ask, Is it more loving to embrace or to shun embracing? To search or to give up as lost? To do this or to do that? That is very hard. The way of the Cross is sparsely populated because it is a bloodbath of Self.
But that is not the end of the story. Love cannot stay buried. Many waters cannot quench love, nor will rivers overflow it; if a man were to give all the riches of his house for love, it would be utterly despised. Song of Solomon 8:7.
I do not know the resolution of your story, and I am still seeking mine. But I have learned that if I seek a resurrection of something I have lost, I must first seek Love. Love will either redeem it or give us something better. Love will lift up our faces as we break open our alabaster offerings, and declare, your many sins are forgiven because I gave before and ahead of your story, because you desire and receive my Love, because you love me more than your flawed treasures. Now go in peace and continue to Love and Forgive Much.