Monday, January 10, 2011

Stand by Me

When the storms of life are raging, stand by me.  -- Charles Tindley
(To see all the lyrics to this hymn -- Click Here)

How often are the troubles that we perceive ourselves having due to having troubles finding forgiveness -- forgiveness of others, or forgiveness of ourselves?  How frequently does the lack of forgiveness that we carry sour us to everything and everyone?  We'll carry a grudge for a slight that was shown us, one thing leads to another, and maybe years later resentment over that slight is still poisoning how we feel.  Sometimes the grudge spreads and the person sours to much more.  My mother carried a deep-seated anger and resentment toward the President of the U.S. for having drafted my father.  She carried this grudge for 60 some years.  When my father died, she received in the mail a certificate signed by President Bush thanking my father for his service to the country in WWII.  That certificate erased her anger and she commented frequently about how much lighter and happier she felt for that expression of gratitude and the warm wave of forgiveness she suddenly felt vividly from it.  She said, "I never knew what forgiveness was before I felt this."

Oswald Chambers throws out this challenging observation: "When a person fails in his personal Christian life it is usually because he has never received anything from Jesus Christ."  (My Utmost for His Highest) The thing Christ makes available to us is the forgiveness of sins.  With forgiveness comes a liberation from the slippery path to anger, resentment, and the weight of grudge carrying.

As I said yesterday, Jesus repented for our sins when he was baptized.  He also has done the work to atone for our sins and provide forgiveness to us all.  So the obstacles and stumbling blocks in life we trip over from holding a resentment or from blaming someone for our failings really do not need to be held because Christ has handled that. The same liberated relief my mother felt when she discovered forgiveness for a grudge she had carried all those years is readily and freely available.  We only need receive it and let go of the bitterness toward the other; or, let go of the remorse and regret within ourselves, and stand by Christ.  He never leaves us, but we often leave him for want of chewing on our cud of bitter unfairness or remorse.  Stand by him and let it go.

God, for the tremendous grace you've supplied through supplying our repentance and forgiveness we give you thanks.  Help us to stand securely beside you, trusting in our liberation from the prisons of hostility and hurt to which we too readily condemn ourselves.  Amen.

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