August 6, 2023

The Shepherd's Corner

Lewis Smedes, in his book, The Art of Forgiving, tells a story of his own doing—hurting a couple of people that he admired greatly.  He said something about them.  In his own admission, “They were the last two people in the world whom I would have wanted to wound.  But what I said badly and needlessly wounded them.”  These two then asked to meet with Smedes and in that meeting, they told him that they would never forgive him.  Never!  It crushed him, badly. 

For almost fifteen years he lived with “shame and sorrow” of having hurt people whom he loved and admired, until the day he got sick. Out of the blue, they contacted him, wished him well, expressed their concern.  And this triggered a chain of reactions.  He and they began contacting each other, by letters, by phone, and they even visited him.  They reconnected, more importantly, they forgave him, even though they never said so.  Smedes received mercy and grace.

We all long for mercy and grace.  The bigger the offense, the bigger the wish for mercy and grace.  And if we receive it, the bigger the gratitude and the stronger the sense of relief.  Smedes shares, “I cannot think of many things in my life that I am more grateful for.”  I am sure that we all have received it from others, so the least we can do is to pass it on.  We may think that they do not deserve it—and we might very well be right in our assessment—but that’s the idea about mercy and grace.  It is given to those who do not deserve it.

Sadly, there are those who never received mercy and grace.  If they did, it was rare and invariably tied with conditions.  They, who grow up with no mercy and grace, end up walking in life unfamiliar with mercy and grace.  They only know “take and give”—they take, and others must give. It’s a one-way street.  Mercy and grace are not a two-way street; it is one-way street, but from the other direction.

Pastor Paul

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