February 18, 2014
I realize it’s bold, but it’s the way the conversation started…
“Are you a Christian?” I asked.
His answer caught me a little off guard. “Yes,” he said with his head down. “My wife has always been deeply religious, too. I don’t generally tell people this, but years ago she had two abortions and she has never really forgiven herself.”
My heart sank. Empathy ripped through my soul.
“Have you?” I replied.
He glanced up at me with a look of guilt no eighty-five year old man should have to bear. “No, I guess I never really have.” (Pause.) “I could have stopped them, you know?”
A flood of emotions ran through me. Immediately, I was transported in my mind to the morning just a few weeks ago when I stood in church, hands lifted high singing, “My every stain is washed away. I am forgiven.”
Clearly, this man did not understand what “forgiven” truly meant.
Instead of receiving genuine forgiveness, he chose to carry the heavy weight of guilt that comes with a decision such as this —for over sixty years. Rather than receiving forgiveness from the only One who can wash the stain away, this man and his wife bore this burden of sin on their shoulders. All. These. Years.
Standing next to him, tears streamed down my cheeks. I wept… Just as Jesus weeps when we refuse to accept the free gift He has given us- forgiveness of our sins.
When Christ died, He died for ALL of our sins. Not just the ones we can admit to. He died for the ones we are ashamed of. The ones no one else knows about. The sins we have carried for years and years. Like this man. And his wife.
Mathew 11:28-30 says, “Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest. 29 Take my yoke upon you and learn from me, for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. 30 For my yoke is easy and my burden is light.”
I don’t know what you are going through. Or what you have done. But forgiving yourself is a choice that only you can make. Don’t waste another minute holding on to unforgiveness toward yourself.
Before you ever asked. Before you ever sinned, Christ forgave you.
For the abortion. For the divorce. For the abandonment. For the abuse. For the words. For the thoughts. For the actions. He has forgiven you… For everything you have ever done and everything you will ever do.
The only one left remembering… Is you.
January 30, 2014
Romans 5:8, “But God demonstrates His own love toward us, in that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us.”
As I sang the words to this beautiful song this past Sunday morning at the place my soul is fed, my eyes filled with tears.
“I am forgiven at the foot of the Cross.
I am accepted by the power of your love.
My every stain is washed away.
I am forgiven.”
MY… EVERY?… STAIN… IS WASHED AWAY.
As I stood in His presence, hands lifted high and heart bowed low, His peace washed over me.
I repeated the phrase.
I AM FORGIVEN.
The words sank through me.
I AM FORGIVEN.
His love pierced the deepest parts of me.
I AM FORGIVEN.
This isn’t a concept, I don’t know. It is one of the foundational principles of a Christian’s life. Not only have I sinned in my life, but – I do sin. On a regular basis… I sin. Every day… I sin. It is a fact. Sin dwells in me. And no matter how hard I try to fight it, I fail. A lot. I wish it weren’t so. But it is. It is a cold hard fact.
I am a sinner.
As I stood in worship, this gripping fact came to the broad surface of my heart.
And yet, even at my worst, His love covered me. In the midst of my sin, Christ died for me. He chose me. Knowing my every weakness, He redeemed me. Being profoundly aware of the choices I would make and all the years I would reject Him, He chose to love me anyway. To love me, in spite of me.
Standing in the second row of the sanctuary with closed eyes and a wide open heart, I saw it. A picture of His love pouring over me. Like water gushing over the edge of a waterfall, His love washed away my filth.
His love has washed yours away, too.
There on the cross, beaten and bruised, rejected and despised, He bore it all. Your pain. Your suffering. He bore it. So you wouldn’t have to. Because – He loves you.
Before you were ever born, the Lord called you by name. Understanding how angry you would be at Him, He died for you. Knowing that you would reject Him, He accepted you. Fully aware of all your shortcomings and faults, He forgave you.
YOUR… EVERY!… STAIN…WAS WASHED AWAY.
YOU ARE FORGIVEN.
No matter how far you run, the Lord will never stopped pursuing you. No matter how far off course you get, the Lord has a plan to bring you back. No matter what you have done in the past, He forgives you.
He loves you, in spite of you. In spite of every wrong choice. In spite of every ounce of sin. In spite of all the ugliness that lives inside your filth-stained heart, He loves you. He has chosen you.
YOU ARE FORGIVEN.