We don't really have seasons in Central Texas. It's either hot or cold. There's not much time spent in between the two extremes. Autumn is non-existent, we only have a very short Fall — it's hot, then a "blue norther" blows through and it gets real cold, and the next day all the leaves fall off the trees. Spring, however, is a different story!

Spring begins in mid-February. The wind blows. Rain falls. Wonderful things begin to happen.

Spring rains are special. They're tumultuous, loud, and exciting. Clouds build into dark overhead columns. Things grow suddenly still. The sweet clean smell of rain hangs thick in the air. The wind begins to blow. Lightning flashes it's jagged signature across the ladened skies. Thunder crackles and rolls across the countryside. The rain falls in fast and furious torrents, sometimes peppered with a touch of hail. In a short while, the skies clear and the air smells fresh and clean. The grass looks greener. The buds on trees seem to grow before your very eyes. The bluebonnets and Indian paintbrushes burst with color and reach their droplet-covered petals to the sky. The world feels reborn ... and in a sense, it is!

Forgiveness is much the same as our spring rains. Born out of the tumult and noise of hurt and pain, forgiveness allows us to be reborn. I'm not talking about God's forgiveness of us, but I'm referring to our forgiveness of others. Most of us can easily understand the cleansing freshness of knowing the Father has forgiven us. However, we often find it hard to forgive others when they have hurt us. By refusing to forgive, we end up denying ourselves the great cleansing blessing of this shared grace of forgiveness.

By refusing to forgive, we end up denying ourselves the great cleansing.
Jesus warned us that we must not approach forgiveness like the Dead Sea deals with water — simply taking it in without sharing it with others. If we do, we stagnate, become bitter, and end up dying spiritually. Jesus was adamant: "If you forgive those who sin against you, your heavenly Father will forgive you. But if you refuse to forgive others, your Father will not forgive your sins." (Matthew 6:14-15) Instead, we are to forgive as we have been forgiven, with kindness and tenderhearted compassion! (Ephesians 4:31-32)

Many years ago I read a powerful article on forgiveness in a magazine. Interestingly, I cannot remember anything about that article other than the image that accompanied it. This graphic showed an opened birdcage with the bird inside escaping to its freedom. The caption read, "Forgiveness is setting the captive bird free and then realizing that you were the captive bird." Refusing to forgive others poisons us. It shuts down grace in our lives. But forgiving those who have wronged us and hurt us allows the thunderstorm in hearts to rage and then pass, leaving behind the cleansing rain of forgiving grace.