Years ago in the days of small children in diapers, car seats, sippy cups, and pacifiers, I learned a valuable lesson of forgiveness. It was one of those ridiculously busy times in our life. My husband was drowning in work and church obligations and I was going stir crazy with the little ones at home and had my own share of church obligations.
In the middle of one of those weeks, we were trying to all get out the door for our mid-week service at church. Of course, at church, we all had what seemed to be 437 different obligations, and my husband had a meeting after church. I was still rushing to finish cleaning up from dinner so I asked him to go ahead and take the kids to church since we needed two separate cars there anyway. I thoroughly enjoyed a few kid-free moments and took my time finishing up.
I wandered up to church and stopped and visited with some friends in the hall. As I was passing the classroom where my younger child should have been in class, I quizzed a dad standing outside the class, "He's in there, right?" He seemed baffled, "No, I saw your daughter and her friend taking your son upstairs." Well, that's weird. Maybe I should go check on that.
I climbed the stairs and began walking the hall. The first classroom I came to had the lights on – and one very dejected almost-two-year old alone in the room. It was the classroom he attended on Sunday nights. It was Wednesday. I can still see his chubby little cheeks and sad eyes that must have wondered what in heaven's name he had done to be left alone for Bible class. I got him all squared away where he should have been, and tried to go on with my evening.
But I was angry. Actually, I was FURIOUS. Knowing it would be a very long time before I had an opportunity to talk to my husband, I did a very thoughtless thing. I went to the door of the room where he was in Bible class and asked him to meet me in the hall. When he got there, I unleashed with both barrels about how I couldn't believe he would let our 3 1/2 year old take our 1 1/2 year old to class and not CHECK that all were where they should be. Strangely (or not) he didn't respond very well to that particular approach at conflict resolution. He failed to apologize, muttered something about "Well, that's just one more thing I've messed up lately!" and stormed off.
Fine. I finished all I needed to and took the kids home. I got them all tucked in bed and collapsed on my bed. I prayed and prayed and prayed. I KNEW that the Lord would want me to forgive and I hoped my will would roll out of my head with the tears rolling down my cheeks.
However, stubborn soul that I am, I really thought I had a fairly good argument for NOT forgiving: "Lord, I have felt ignored and cast aside from him lately. I can forgive that. But, Father, that is my baby boy. He ignored him. I vow to you, Father, that I will honor my vow to you and my husband. I will not leave him, but, Lord, I don't think I can ever forgive him. It's my baby boy!"
As the sobs quieted and the words of rage finally left my body, I heard it. No, there was no audible voice in my room. But words came into my head. Words that were not at all in line with my will, but His word: "My God, My God, why have you forsaken me?" (Mark 15:34)
I gasped and cried some more. For His message was clear to me at that moment: "That was MY baby boy. If I can forgive YOU for all the things you have done to put him on that cross, you can certainly forgive the man you love for something your baby boy will never remember."
I was humbled, repentant, and sorrowful. With a few words the Lord reminded me of His holiness and my humanness. How could I possibly be so unforgiving of another human when the Lord of the universe was willing to watch His own baby boy suffer and die to forgive me for everything – every thoughtless sin, every willful sin, sins he knew I would commit later, all of them!
I wish I could say that was the last time I have ever been tempted to draw a line in the sand and tell God, "I will love this person, but I will NOT forgive them." I still have those fleeting thoughts, but they are just that – fleeting. I can be incredibly stubborn and a generally slow learner about life lessons, but it's hard to ignore or forget being reprimanded by the Lord of heaven and earth!
"For if you forgive men when they sin against you, your heavenly Father will also forgive you" (Matthew 6:14).
Sarah is part of The Coffee Group, a varied group of women who express their love, faith, and praise for God with ladies they love. They do ladies' retreats and special speaking on God's work in their lives, as well as the importance of sharing your faith story.
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