Friday, November 2, 2012

Forgiveness and Compassion

Jesus said, “Father, forgive them, for they do not know what they are doing.” And they divided up his clothes by casting lots. Luke 23:34 (NIV)

As much as I know that we are to stay away from anger and bitterness and forgive everyone “seventy times seven”, this doesn’t come automatically for me; I often have to consciously stop and think about it to make it a reality. While sometimes anger or resentment builds slowly because I have not chosen to rebuke these feelings, there are times when the moment sneaks up on me and I am in a rage before I even know what hit me.

Most of what I call “injustices” in my life, however, are small in the grand scope of things. I let a stray word, harsh text or unreturned phone call ruin a perfect day. I can’t say that I have had an experience anything nearly as severe as the injustices surrounding Jesus’ death--yet even on the cross, watching them divide his garments, he was not only forgiving them, but asking God to forgive them.

Jesus knew that it was Satan in them that was responsible for their ill behavior. He offered them compassion and forgiveness instead of judgment—even in his time of distress. Choosing compassion over judgment is what he calls us to as well.

More often than not, that stray word that almost ruined my day was not intended in a mean way. The abrupt text wasn’t meant to be harsh, but was the byproduct of someone in a hurry. And the person who failed to return the phone call had a perfectly good excuse. By not immediately flying off of the handle and instead seeking to understand. . .which takes a bit more patience. . .the “unjust” action is usually understandable and I am able to approach it with not only understanding, but compassion.

Lord, help me trade my ungodly feelings to compassion for those who hurt me. Help me see them through your eyes and not the jaded eyes of this broken world.

Tuesday, May 1, 2012

White Birch Logs

Before I formed you in the womb I knew [and] approved of you [as My chosen instrument], and before you were born I separated and set you apart, consecrating you; [and] I appointed you as a prophet to the nations. Jeremiah 1:5 AMP

Blessings don’t always come in the way you think they will They aren’t always large. . .or profound. . . or public. . .or, sadly, noticed. Yet blessings and miracles are there every day for those willing to look for them.

Robb had suggested two weeks ago that I replace the dusty, crumbling gas “logs” that have been in my fireplace for more than the forty-five years it has been capped off, with white birch logs. I would add it to my list of things that I somehow think are going to miraculously appear which currently includes: living room furniture, dining room chairs, new walls in both my kitchen and spare bedrooms. . .you get the picture.

I would have no idea where to get birch logs. I had never seen birch anywhere in log form outside of Christmas card photos. The fact is, I see very few birch trees alive. And lets just say I happened to run into a fallen birch on one of my travels—what is the likelihood it wouldn’t be damp and full of bugs or that I would have a saw or an axe to cut it up?

The following week I was on a work retreat at a twelve-room bed and Breakfast in Ohio’s Amish country. A fire was set in the fireplace in my room and it wasn’t until it was roaring that I noticed that it was set with white birch logs. Although it was too late to save the burning ones, there were several still wrapped in the canvas carrier on the hearth.

The following day I asked the innkeeper if I could have the ones that were left. He went on to tell me, for no apparent reason, because I surely didn’t ask, about how there was one lone birch tree on the property and that it had died and was cut up for firewood.

Here are the numbers as I see them. One birch on the whole property that died on some date in the past, was cut down, split, dried and out of twelve rooms that checked out the day I arrived, there were an armful of its logs sitting, waiting for me on my hearth.

If we ever think God doesn’t have a plan for us or that life is a random series of events, I just can’t believe that for a moment. Before I was even born God planted a birch tree in Ohio 200 miles from where I live. It grew, died, dried and was cut up and delivered to the room I stayed in on a particular evening in April. I never would have stayed there except for it being a Living Social deal that was about to expire the following week. Me and the tree ended up together one Monday night. Coincidences just aren’t that great. God, however, is. If God cares about our details. . .down to the wood that will never burn in our capped off fireplaces--how much more must he really care about us?