We stand at the edge of the marking of time, the old year looking into the new year. My niece in Guam is already there in 2014,"where America starts the New Year." Time is odd when one thinks deeply about it. Mind boggling comes to words.
Tomorrow, I reveal my picture of the year. Fitting as Wednesdays are my wordless days, but I will also write some words on it. Defining the year in a picture strengthens the hope I have for that year.
2012 an empty wooden yoke with a morning sun in winter showed me to give control of my life to Jesus. 2013, the stylized lion in winter at Buhl Farm Park changed through the seasons to reflect my needs for courage.
Today, though, I have a word for the Church this year. Yes, it should be a word all the time for the Christ followers, but I see if we get a hold of this, revival can begin. It is not prayer. It is not Bible reading. It is not more praise and worship. These are great words and actions I have promoted many times, but I see "Forgiveness" as the word that will open the clouds for a downpour from Heaven.
I have been hit the past two years with many disappointments, hard developments and blows to my plucky ego. I believed God always had my back so to speak, but the many blows culminating over years from my father's death to giving up on the white picket fence dream in my late twenties and early thirties to just never feeling I've made it, grew to a bitterness I refused to recognize. Yet, I clung to God's promises. Then physical blows of growing old as a woman, and the removal of my idol of what I wanted for my family in the past two years led to me taking what I saw as a step down in my nursing career. I had seen nursing less and less as a career, putting my efforts into being a wife and mother. It all seemed to crash in the last years. Yet, to realize this year, those sacrifices to the career seemed to leave me with less than what I should have at thirty one years of nursing left me off balance.
I read Beautiful Outlaw by John Eldredge last month, a book on looking at Jesus differently. Chapter fourteen stopped me in my tracks. I realized I needed to forgive Jesus for life. Yes, this sounds sacrilegious, John pointed out. Jesus didn't do anything wrong. Still, when I am disappointed in my life, how I was made- forgetting I was fearfully and wonderfully made- when my prayers seem to not be answered, at least the way I wanted them to be answered, I knew deep down I was mad at God. I couldn't admit that. I knew intellectually God hadn't done anything wrong. Didn't I know the answers? The Fall. The devil. Bad things happen in this world. It was the one promise I took to heart that Jesus told us, "In this world, you will have trouble, but fear not, I have overcome the world." He will never leave me nor forsake me. I had to forgive Jesus for seeing Him as the blame of my discouragement.
This is complicated and hard to confess. I know Jesus wants what's best for me. Words from the Bible stories echoed in my mind as I pondered all this. "Lord, if only You had been here," from Martha and Mary, as their brother died and laid in the grave. "I want to go with You," the saved demoniac pleads with his Savior. "No, stay here and tell what happened," Jesus tells him. Jesus sends His disciples into a storm and would have walked past them, had they not called out. "Today, you will be with Me in Paradise," Jesus comforts the thief on the cross, but I stay here on earth when I wanted to escape this world on my darkest days.
So real or imagined hurts have to be forgiven. I have to forgive Jesus in my deep heart. The next person to forgive is myself. I have to forgive myself for not being the super woman I think I must be. I must forgive what I perceive as laziness or thoughtlessness or any of the other flaws I have. I have to forgive myself.
Then I must forgive the other slights, hurts and deep slayings I perceive from family, friends, acquaintances, church leaders and bosses. A flood of forgiveness churns in my life and in your life as well. I see that flood in a service that releases the revival the ladies and I have been praying. My ministry isn't appreciated, my work is over looked, I am underutilized are all thoughts I'm sure we can admit to.
I have walked the humility path this past six months, not very well, as I am writing about it. I have been met with kindness that sometimes tears creep to my eyes as I serve. I must follow Jesus, no matter where I am. I must introduce people to Him. Until I do, nothing will grow. But first, forgiveness. Forgive them, Father, for they know not what they are doing.
This Sunday, the first Sunday of 2014, look across the aisle. Many churches observe communion on this Sunday. If you do, glance around. Forgive the slights, hurts, and maybe even real actions, as you think on this. Allow forgiveness to rule. As we reflect on the death of Nelson Mandela this past year, with the real offenses to him, he forgave. He left prison a free man. We can, too.