FORGIVENESS– final frontier?

22 May

    PROVERBIALLY SPEAKING…

“Let love and faithfulness never leave you; bind them around your neck, write them on the tablet of your heart.  4 Then you will win favor and a good name in the sight of God and man. ” (Prov. 3:3, 4)

Anchor: The expression “to write on the tablet of the heart” (Prov 3:3; 7:3; Jer 31:33) could  be an allusion to a tablet for schoolboys’ exercises hung about the neck. This is also referred to in Deut 6:6–7: “These words which I command to you today will be on your heart. You shall repeat them to your sons and speak of them indoors and out-of-doors, when you lie down and when you rise.” [pg 310/30305 of 125731]

According to ancient Hebrew thought, the “will” took up residence within the heart. So if the Torah (first five books of the Bible) is written on the human heart, people will have the will to obey it; they will no longer have to admonish one another to “know Yahweh,” for everyone will know him (Jer 31:34).
[pg 1089/82435 of 125731]

Our prayer is that Jesus will write the good news of his birth, his life, his death, and his resurrection, on the ‘tablet of your heart’, so that the Love of Almighty God will shine in your smile. Amen.

    FORGIVENESS

In Mark 11—after the triumphant Palm Sunday entrance into Jerusalem—Jesus tells the disciples to have faith in God (22), then makes their mouths pop open (even after all the unbelievable things they have seen Jesus do).

 “I tell you the truth, if anyone says to this mountain, ‘Go, throw yourself into the sea,’ and does not doubt in his heart but believes that what he says will happen, it will be done for him.  Therefore I tell you, whatever you ask for in prayer, believe that you have received it, and it will be yours.”(23, 24)

Just when they might have begun swaggering a bit with the thought of such ‘power’, Jesus pulls the Israeli rug out from under them.

Are you ready?  They weren’t.

“And when you stand praying, if you hold anything against anyone, forgive him, so that your Father in heaven may forgive you your sins.”(25)


How often have we heard those words, or similar?  We hear them every time we pray the prayer Jesus first taught to these same guys:  ‘Give us this day our daily bread, and forgive us our debts (or trespasses) as we forgive our debtors (those who trespass against us).’

Easy to say—not easy to do.


In Mitch Albom’s “Tuesdays With Morrie” (previous post), Morrie shares:

“Mitch, there is no point in keeping vengeance or stubbornness.  These things”—he sighed—“these things I so regret in my life.  Pride. Vanity.  Why do we do the things we do?”

“Do you see that sculpture?”

I had never really noticed it.  Cast in bronze, it was the face of a man in his early forties, waring a necktie, a tuft of hair falling across his forehead.

“That’s me,” Morrie said.  “A friend sculptured that maybe thirty years ago.  His name was Norman.  We used to spend so much time together.  We went swimming.  We took rides to New York.  He had me over to his house in Cambridge, and he sculptured that bust of me down in his basement.  It took several weeks, but he really wanted to get it right.”

I studied the face.  How strange to see a three-dimensional Morrie, so healthy, so young, watching over us as we spoke…and I thought this friend had sculpted a little spirit as well.

“Well, here’s the sad part of the story,” Morrie said. “Norman and his wife moved away to Chicago.  A little while later, my wife, Charlotte, had to have a pretty serious operation.  Norman and his wife never got in touch.  I know they knew about it.  Charlotte and I were very hurt because they never called to see how she was.  So we dropped the relationship.

“Over the years, I met Norman a few times and he always tried to reconcile, but I didn’t accept it.  I wasn’t satisfied with his explanation.  I was prideful.  I shrugged him off.”

His voice choked.

“Mitch… a few years ago… he died of cancer.  I feel so sad.  I never got to see him.  I never got to forgive.  It pains me now so much…”

He was crying again, a soft and quiet cry, and because his head was back, the tears rolled off the side of his face before they reached his lips.

Sorry, I said.

“Don’t be,” he whispered.  “Tears are okay.”

“It’s not just other people we need to forgive, Mitch,” he finally whispered.  “We also need to forgive ourselves.”

Ourselves?

“Yes.  For all the things we didn’t do.  All the things we should have done.  You can’t get stuck on the regrets of what should have happened.  That doesn’t help you when you get to where I am. …

“Forgive yourself.  Forgive others.  Don’t wait, Mitch.  Not everyone gets the time I’m getting.  Not everyone is so lucky.” [spr—Morrie was dying of ALS]

“I mourn my dwindling time, but I cherish the chance it gives me to make things right.”


With whom do you identify?  Morrie?  Norman?



I am ‘Norman’.

I would not wish these feelings upon anyone.


Thankfully, there is still time to make amends.

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