Tag Archives: forgiveness

The Way to Pentecost: Appearing to the Eleven

So much happened that first day, the day of resurrection. Mary Magdalene sees Jesus and tells the disciples that he has risen. Cleopas and his friend meet Jesus on the way to dinner outside of Jerusalem. It says in Luke that as soon as they realized that it was Jesus, they got up immediately and headed back to Jerusalem.

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Luke says it was specifically the Eleven apostles, while John just mentions disciples. But John includes that the room they where they gathered had been locked because they were afraid of the Jewish leaders. That morning, at least some if not all had been present when the women claimed an empty tomb. And they were there when Peter and John returned to confirm it true. And now, two people are claiming to have actually eaten with Jesus outside of Jerusalem.

As all of this is happening, we know that the Jewish leaders are already scheming with the guards to spread the narrative that the Jesus’ followers had stolen the body. They didn’t have the body, but that couldn’t actually disprove the rumor.

And in the middle of all this fear, confusion, and grief, Jesus shows up. Even through locked doors, Jesus appears. He shows his hands and feet and invites them to touch him. He asks for something to eat, to prove his humanity, that he wasn’t just an apparition.

The grief and sorrow that had turned into fear and uncertainty finally ended that evening in joy and amazement. In Luke, he tells them to stay in the city until they were clothed with power on high, while John says that he breathed the Holy Spirit into them right then. And what ability did this Holy Spirit give them?

‘and repentance for the forgiveness of sins will be preached in his name to all nations, beginning at Jerusalem.’

Luke 24:47

“If you forgive anyone’s sins, their sins are forgiven; if you do not forgive them, they are not forgiven.”

John 20:23

Out of everything Jesus did, everything his disciples witnessed, Jesus wanted them to teach forgiveness. Forgiveness was their new super power.

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It reminds me of the story of the lame man in Luke 5:17-26. His friends lowered him through the roof to get to Jesus, and when Jesus saw this man, his first words were, “Friend, your sins are forgiven.” The religious leaders and teachers took offense, but Jesus proved that not only could he forgive, but he also healed the man right there.

At times, we get really bogged down with doing it right, saying the right things, following scripture the right way. But here, both in Luke and John, the first responsibility the disciples were given was to forgive sins. It’s creating space for growth in both ourselves and others.

Forgiveness is hard to practice. Tyler Perry is quoted, “It’s not an easy journey, to get to a place where you forgive people. But it is such a powerful place, because it frees you.” You have to let go of the right to be hurt, and give God the seat of justice.

I know that people have used the term forgiveness to withhold justice as well. To allow abusers to continue their abuse without consequence, to hide behind titles and wealth that allow them to do whatever they desire. When we don’t see the justice we desperately desire, it’s hard to continue trusting in God.

I don’t have an easy answer for why God allows bad things to happen and seemingly doesn’t dole out the justice that is deserved. But for me, forgiveness has been a way for me to let go of how trauma defined who I was and embrace the new creation God has in me. To know that God is still moving and working within all of us, for both healing and justice.

Forgiveness is a super power. And while some may try to abuse this power, I know that it is meant to be used for good. To create space for growth and healing, so that we can all experience the goodness of God and the power of Christ. Even those who may doubt.

Letting Go

I love my husband. You guys don’t even know half of the amazing things this man has done for me through the course of our courtship and marriage, but especially in the last two months. We have become so much closer over the last year than we ever had before, and I’m so grateful for that.

The reason I’m grateful for it is because God is the one that has given this man and this relationship to me. I don’t deserve it on my own. Before Michael, I made a lot of bad decisions in the romantic area of my life. I was manipulative. I used and was used by guys. I took pride in not crossing a particular physical boundary, but my behavior still led me to do things that didn’t honor God, myself or my future husband. I had to hit rock bottom to finally pry the fingers off my dating life and give it over to God. God took it and gave me Michael. I am eternally grateful for that.

People are sometimes shocked to know who I was before Michael. It would be easy to hide that part of me away, especially since we moved to a place where no one knew us after we got married. Our marriage would still be a great story, but it would be missing parts of the vibrant colors of a powerful God working through flawed humans to create something beautiful. Telling the whole story also allows others who may not have made the best choices in their own life know that there is redemption and hope for them as well.

Sometimes we communicate a different road to redemption and hope. We think if we follow all the rules, then we will have strong marriages and successful families. If we don’t have these things, then it must be something that we have done, and we are being punished for it. Also, if we do mess up, we try to overcompensate, hoping that we do enough right things to avoid punishment for our wrongs. What are we communicating to the rest of the world? The worldly success of our life does not dictate our holiness. And doing everything “right” does not control the path of our journey.

We need to be responsible with our choices, words and actions. But responsibility and control are two separate things, and I think that’s where we get caught up. My miscarriages are not punishments. They are reminders that I am not in control. They are opportunities for me to lean on a God who is in control, a God who loves me and grieves with me.

It is my responsibility to be obedient to God. It is my responsibility to honor my marriage and to take care of the things given to me on this earth. But that doesn’t mean I have any control over the things in my care. It’s such a scary thought to know that I don’t have control. But that is where trust comes in. Trust that God has got this. He knows what is best for me, and His plan is greater than anything I could imagine.

God has a plan for my life, a plan that is already in motion. I see the places where he has taken my flawed, selfish messes and turned them into something wonderful. Because of this, I know that there are some pretty amazing things in store for me and for my family. So, I’m giving my desires for my family up to God, along with the messes and frustrations and failures. And I can’t wait to see the beautiful masterpiece God will unfold.