C.S. Lewis on Forgiveness

I love the Psalms and C.S. Lewis’s reflections are inspiring. This quote in particular makes you think. Jesus really did say forgive “seventy times seven,” which literally means as many times as necessary. Ouch! That’s a hard truth to swallow along with our pride.

There is no use talking as if forgiveness were easy. We all know the old joke, ‘You’ve given up smoking once; I’ve given it up a dozen times.’ In the same way I could say of a certain man, ‘Have I forgiven him for what he did that day? I’ve forgiven him more times than I can count.’ For we find that the work of forgiveness has to be done over and over again. We forgive, we mortify our resentment; a week later some chain of thought carries us back to the original offence and we discover the old resentment blazing away as if nothing had been done about it at all. We need to forgive our brother seventy times seven not only for 490 offences but for one offence.

-from Reflections on the Psalms, C.S. Lewis

Seventy times seven to the tenth power seems to be how many times I must learn the lesson of forgiveness. I know how healing and freeing it is to forgive . . . until I forget.

1 Corinthians 13:5 says love “keeps no record of wrongs.” But when someone has wronged me I don’t much feel like loving them anyway.

Thankfully Jesus never said to His Father, “Don’t forgive them. I don’t much feel like loving them anyway.”

Last Year’s Transgression

Earlier this year I was holding onto an offence from summer 2020. I reached the hard decision to forgive. Really, I had. But every time I was reminded of it, I record anew how I was wronged.

“And she’s not even sorry,” I explained to God. She doesn’t even think she did anything wrong. Early on, He woke me in the middle of the night: “Pray for her.”

“You mean like David prayed for You to destroy his enemies in the Psalms?”

“No, not like that. Pray as Jesus prayed for you.”

So I did. And it helped to heal the wound and free my mind from the trap of bitterness.

I learned my lesson and each time the anger creeped in again, I forgave a little more quickly.

The Never-Ending Transgression

Until recently when someone who has said things that hurt me on way more than seventy-times-seven occasions. It’s been the story of my life, to have her speak words that shatter my heart.

I know I need to forgive her. And many times I have. But this latest wound was just too much. I was already grieving and she compounded my grief tenfold with her words.

She’ll blame it on her mental illness, and I get that it’s a struggle for her. She’ll blame it on her own grief, but that doesn’t give her the right to ignore my grief.

She’ll claim she doesn’t even remember saying what she said. And maybe she doesn’t. But I do. I remember every cruel word she has ever spoken to me. Every single one. Maybe that’s my problem. I’ve often forgiven but not forgotten.

I ruminated on what I might say to her when next we met and I couldn’t come up with anything nice. I’ve spent decades being loving and understanding and forgiving. This time I didn’t think I could.

But I did. It took the power of the Holy Spirit to draw from my mouth the right things to say, the forgiving thing to say. It helped that the focus was on the one we were both grieving over.

A Prayer for You and Me

Heavenly Father, Help me to forgive as You do, more quickly and completely, as You forgive me. Help the one reading this post, who may also be struggling to forgive a long list of transgressions, to turn to You for help. In Jesus’s Name, Amen.

Moonlight’s Singular Moment

 Archibald Wright “Moonlight” Graham (November 10 1879 – August 25 1965) was an American professional baseball player who appeared as a right fielder in a single major league game for the New York Giants on June 29, 1905.

His story was popularized by “Shoeless Joe,” a novel by W. P. Kinsella, and the subsequent 1989 film, “Field of Dreams.”

On June 29, the Giants were the visiting team against Brooklyn. For the bottom of the eighth inning, Graham was sent in to play right field, replacing George Browne. In the top of the ninth inning, Graham was on deck (scheduled to be the next batter) when his teammate Claude Elliott flied out resulting in the third and final out. Graham played the bottom of the ninth in right field but never came to bat, and that game turned out to be his only appearance in the major leagues.

“Moonlight” Graham got his nickname because the sum total of his career  was that singular fleeting moment, which passed by too quickly.  Technically, I guess he played one game at MLB level, But he never had the chance to bat and never even touched the ball.  He would never again play in the majors, but since he was recorded on an umpire’s ‘batting order’ list, technically he played MLB.

How incredibly sad.  I pulled out my baseball encyclopedia to verify his career and yes he is there.  He had his moment in the moonlight, it passed and left him with no compassion or mercy.  He has been forever marked in baseball as someone “who might have been”.

Dr. Archibald “Moonlight” Graham, went to college and became a physician.  In the movie “Field of Dreams”, Graham (Burt Lancaster) declares this–  “You know we just don’t recognize the most significant moments of our lives while they’re happening. Back then I thought, well, there’ll be other days. I didn’t realize that that was the only day.”

Often, there is just a short window of time to respond to God’s grace. We think we can just put it off, and later make a decisive decision. But this moment maybe all you have.

“God says,

“At the right time I heard your prayers.
    On the day of salvation I helped you.” (Isaiah 49:8)

I tell you that the “right time” is now, and the “day of salvation” is now.

2 Corinthians 6:2, NCV

For some reason we think somehow we have arrived and life will always be this way.  But the only sure thing, the one solid definite fact, is the love of God for our souls.  That is the only thing that will stay with us. Our circumstances are always changing.  But perhaps we need to be faithful in this singular moment.  I think  “Moonlight” Graham would agree.

Carpe Diem.


ybic, Bryan

Here’s a link worth following: http://www.post-gazette.com/pg/05176/528257.stm

Understanding Bread

I have learned a lot about my Christian walk in the last few years.  Most of it has been gathered from ordinary life experiences.  Like working on a farm, hanging wallpaper, driving too fast in a cornfield (!).  If I set long enough I can list 100 more, each with a lesson or two.

Been thinking about baking bread though.  The flour, and water, and yeast are combined and mixed (kneaded).  It takes some patience and timing.  Experience is really helpful.  My Great-grandma made the best bread in Northern Wisconsin.  (As a little kid, I got a slice of bread soaked in cow’s milk for a tasty snack.)

After I grew up, got married and moved to my cabin in Alaska.  I decided I would show off my bread-making prowess to my young wife.  I floured the table and set myself to making “Grandma’s bread”.  I was going to be the star, hotshot baker!

As I worked the dough something just didn’t feel right.  I surmised that I didn’t have enough flour–it just wouldn’t come together.  I kneaded the dough for quite sometime, while I racked my brain trying to fix the out-of-control mess on the table.  I was getting embarrassed.  It was taking far too long, and the texture was all wrong.

I was getting very irritated at this growing mess. It was then my brave wife graciously pointed out that perhaps it was because I was not using white flour like I thought, but powdered sugar!  See, we had just moved in, and she had been wanting to label the canisters but hadn’t got around to it.

I took the lump outside and buried it in the yard.  It’s been over 20 years but I’ve been told that grass still doesn’t grow there!  The funny thing was I thought I was making bread, but I guess what I really was making was humility. (I keep having to learn this).

When you make bread, you need clean ingredients; pure flour and good water.  If you just came in from the barn you should wash your hands–throughly.  Whatever you mix in, stays in.  (My mom would get a little crazy and throw in raisins or nuts, which I hated.)

You do not sweep the floor and add it to dough, nor do you add chalk or anything that may look like flour.  In the same way, you and I make spiritual bread.  It  takes experience and good and wholesome ingredients.  It takes patience.  You can’t accelerate the process of baking bread.

I hope you can see my point.  We try to mix up a fresh batch of our discipleship everyday. The table is our hearts–it must be clean.  We add the flour and the yeast.  We only use clean water, purity must be maintained.

I’ve been struggling with some things in my discipleship.  I haven’t been too picky about many things.  Purity of heart and mind are areas of compromise.  As a result, I have not been pleased with the outcome.  I am embarrassed by the quality of what I serve up to my guests.

I believe there is nothing as tasty and fresh bread from the oven, served up with homemade jam!  Man, that is good.  Maybe, I’ll make up some bread.

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