The Truth of Forgiveness
a response to The Biola Hour on forgiveness, healing and the arts
As a way to continue the conversations in The Biola Hour, we've invited Becky Mitchell to blog her thoughts after each episode. This is a response to Episode 36 on forgiveness, healing and the arts. Feel free to interact with Becky's thoughts in the comments below
The man was placed in a box, one called prison. It was the one box many could identify and place him in. The world screamed murderer and grief, revenge and PTSD remained within a specific family, and somehow God whispered in the silence of an art gallery a new mission for Dianne Collard.
Her life changed with a phone call about her son’s murder. “We fought to get the man out of prison and now he lives in Los Angeles County.” My mind thought, “Oh great now we live with this man” but through Dianne, God made him my brother—our brother—in Christ. How can I say anything except hallelujah Lord you have given him new life?
The topic of forgiveness led me to believe we were in for a basic discussion. My roommate quickly decided to come with me when I told her the topic but still I did not expect much. How silly of me, the very nature of God is radical forgiveness, and a talk on forgiveness should be truly, radically counter-cultural. So as we walked out of chapel my first words were, “I did not think we were in for all that.”
When I think of forgiveness it is an offering, a changing of heart and mind toward another. I long to offer forgiveness but it is not a gift I can give because that is from God alone. He freely gives and gives and gives. He offers and offers and offers, waiting for us to come. For every person God offers forgiveness, as Dianne said forgiveness is between you and your God while reconciliation is between you and another person. Besides, the act of reconciliation between humans and God has been fulfilled through Jesus.
Dianne spoke of obedience to God, and with a prayer of, “Lord make me willing to forgive” God brought her on a journey of forgiveness. I sat in awe at her story and, as my roommate and I discussed, simply could not imagine going through the process Dianne did. Would I harbor my pain against this man, refuse forgiveness from God and deny both of us the chance of reconciliation? For a slight mistake I often take time to offer a sincere apology rather than quickly apologizing in hopes of the relationship being well again. I wait until I have the words to say, and with truth behind them—or maybe I am just being stubborn.
So will my prayer be true when I say, “And forgive us our debts, as we also have forgiven our debtors”?