Stone Crossings: Finding Grace in Hard and Hidden Places, by L.L. Barkat
Forgiveness seems elusive. We can say we forgive someone and really mean it, but in our hearts we may not have. And if we haven't in our hearts, then Jesus says we haven't done so at all.
L.L. shares her struggles in forgiving both her father and her grandmother. She found herself holding grudges against each of them, and as we read the story, we can understand why. How she came to really forgive them involved both seeing something of her father's own grief over mistreatment in his life by his father, and a revelation as it were, from God about her continued anger over her grandmother's deriding words.
While L.L. was stewing with contempt over her grandmother's past steadied, principled in her own eyes criticisms of her, these questions "rolled into [her] mind: 'What if the people whose love you cherish held you to the standard to which you hold her? What if your loved ones only saw your faults, of which you have many? What is your unforgiveness but an idol set on a pedestal - the idol of you set in perfection against others?" (p. 119) L.L. had never imagined herself as having a problem with idolatry. But the thought that she was looking at her grandmother with an exaggerated and untrue image of who she herself was, made the charge of idolatry ring true. She really was no better herself than the "sugar face" she and her children had seen of the sculpture of a man, eventually to melt away in the humidity of the day. It was finite and limited, not marble like she first thought- and we all are, as well.
I wonder about my own heart towards others, at times. People who are out and out sinners, I can readily identify with, because in my heart I know I can fit in that category. "There, but for the grace of God, go I." But people who look down on others I struggle with, because I am angered over the hurt they inflict on them, some of that directed at me. I find myself in my heart at times striking back against them, and often holding a grudge against them, or wanting to avoid their company.
But with L.L. I have to wonder if I'm actually viewing them with some exalted image of myself in view. An attitude of: "I thank God I'm not like them!" In fact, I can be the judge over them! Rather than seeing God as the only one who can judge. And seeing them "in Jesus" so that we're all taken up in him in our need for forgiveness and reconciliation to God and to each other. Do we extend the forgiveness through Christ we've received, even to our enemies, or those who have deeply hurt us? As we by grace are enabled to do that, they will begin to see not us, not the idol of ourselves we've concocted, but the Lord in all his beauty and glory, in his grace and truth. And as we all see the Lord, we will then begin to recognize and can acknowledge our own utter sinfulness, and God's grace in Jesus for each of us.
Again another chapter which hits home for me, and helps us look at forgiveness in a new, fresh way.
How can a true view of ourselves help us forgive others? How can a true view of God in Jesus help us forgive others? Is forgiveness just a one time act, or might we ordinarily have to do it over and over again? What did Jesus say on that? Or what thoughts would you like to share on this?
1. Stepping Stones - conversion
2. Christmas Coal - shame
3. Tossed Treasures - messiness
4. Heron Road - suffering
5. Sword in the Stone - resistance
6. Howe's Cave - baptism
7. Palisade Cliffs - doubt
8. Holding Pfaltzgraff - inclusion
9. Indiana Jones - fear
10. Old Stone Church - love
11. Goldworthy's Wall - sacrifice
12. Clefts of the Rock - responsibility
13. Olive Press - gratitude
14. Forest Star - humility
15. Seedstone - healing
Next week: "Lava Rock - witness"