by Katherine Britton, crosswalk.com
Therefore I tell you, her sins, which are many, are forgiven – for she loved much. But he who is forgiven little, loves little.” –Luke 7:47, ESV
How do you explain to a child who’s never been to the ocean what waves are like? You might fill a bathtub with water and splash it back and forth. That could teach action of waves – but what about the look? You might take the child to a nearby river with a few rapids, and show them how the foam collects at the bottom of a fall “like on top of a wave.” You might show them a 4×6 inch photograph. You might try to show them what waves sound like with a conch shell. But what about their vast dimensions along the shore? What about their unending nature? What about the undercurrent of a wave going back to sea?
No substitute can convey the scale and true nature of waves continually breaking on the shore. No analogies or to-scale models prepare children for their first trip to the beach. They can’t grasp the greatness until they’ve seen it for themselves.
Have you seen the greatness of God’s forgiveness yet?
No measure of teaching, preaching, and analogizing can make us really grasp what God’s forgiveness means. Even after we reach adulthood, we’re still creatures of experience. It takes a firsthand experience – recognition of how vast our sins really are – before we can appreciate how vast God’s mercy is to cover them.
Jesus gave Simon the Pharisee the example of two men who owed another money – one owed him five hundred days’ wages, one owing him fifty. The moneylender forgives both debts, but, as Simon empathizes, the one forgiven the larger sum has a greater reason to love the one who canceled his debt. But all Simon heard were Jesus’s words. He failed to realize what a vast stretch of sand he stood on, and what a great tide it would take to overtake all of those grains of sand. As a result, it’s the woman Jesus recognizes for her great love of her Savior.
Don’t Stay Stuck in a Chapter of Disappointment
rough the night, but joy comes with the morning.” Psalm 30:5b (NLT)
One Saturday afternoon several years ago, I found myself needing a project — something to occupy my hands but also reroute my thoughts from falling into an epic self-pity party.
So I wandered upstairs to the hot attic, breathed in the musky, damp smell and began scanning the room for a project. Two cardboard boxes spilling over with forgotten items caught my attention. I plopped down on the bare wood floor and began sifting through the contents.
I smiled as I pulled out various long-forgotten items one by one. Photos of my children’s cute little faces when they were young, vacation photos with sweet memories, pottery pieces with my children’s initials in the clay, painted handprints on construction paper and more sports team photos than any parent should ever have to purchase.
But when I moved a few other things around, a big white book shifted and peeked out from under the pile. My smile instantly faded.
The wedding album.
A book which used to be a treasured keepsake now held the power to evoke immense heartache. I reached over and pulled it out of the box, blowing off a cloud of dust that had settled on it over the years. I opened it up and began flipping through the pages, and with each photo my eyes fell upon, my heart sunk.
Life hadn’t turned out the way I thought it would. Wedding vows weren’t kept. Dreams were shattered. Hearts were hurting. A family was broken. Disappointment overload began to consume my thoughts yet again … until God brought a favorite Scripture verse to mind.
Over the years, I’ve often thought of Psalm 30:5b, which says, “Weeping may last through the night, but joy comes with the morning.” This verse is a great reminder that despite how disappointed or sad we may feel, it won’t last forever. We don’t have to let that disappointment keep us stuck in grief or regret, trapped in a chapter of life we don’t want to live in. Instead, we can choose to trust that God has our best interests at heart, our lives under control and good plans for our future.
Disappointment and sorrow are powerful emotions that can keep us stuck in a pattern of focusing on what we lost or mourning dreams that didn’t come true. They prevent us from believing God has good plans for us and stifle our ability to let go of what we thought was supposed to be.
We can allow disappointment to be a hindrance to our happiness, or we can trust God has good plans for us. Disappointment will lessen when we change our perspective of it, considering it a redirect from God rather than His neglect.
Trudging back downstairs from the attic, I took a deep breath and let out a heavy sigh. I realized that day that I was tired of being stuck on a torn-up page of life. As hard as I knew it would be, my heart and mind were finally ready to let go of disappointment, move forward, turn the page and trust God.
I have shed many tears over the past few years, but over time, God dried those tears. My weeping stopped, and my disappointment was gradually replaced with joy as I intentionally tried to be positive and trust God with whatever the future might hold.
God is always up to something new, yet we have to let go of past disappointments in order to embrace what is yet to come. The life that awaits us is far more important than the life behind us. It took me a while to understand this because it was hard to accept what had happened to my family, but when I finally allowed myself to believe it, life changed for the better, as did I.
Streams in the Desert – June 11
Times have changed, but life’s hard times haven’t
And the Lord’s slave must not engage in heated disputes but be kind toward all, an apt teacher, patient, (2 Tim 2:24)
When God conquers us and takes all the flint out of our nature, and we get deep visions into the Spirit of Jesus, we then see as never before the great rarity of gentleness of spirit in this dark and unheavenly world.
The graces of the Spirit do not settle themselves down upon us by chance, and if we do not discern certain states of grace, and choose them, and in our thoughts nourish them, they never become fastened in our nature or behavior.
Every advance step in grace must be preceded by first apprehending it, and then a prayerful resolve to have it.
So few are willing to undergo the suffering out of which thorough gentleness comes. We must die before we are turned into gentleness, and crucifixion involves suffering; it is a real breaking and crushing of self, which wrings the heart and conquers the mind.
There is a good deal of mere mental and logical sanctification nowadays, which is only a religious fiction. It consists of mentally putting one’s self on the altar, and then mentally saying the altar sanctifies the gift, and then logically concluding therefore one is sanctified; and such an one goes forth with a gay, flippant, theological prattle about the deep things of God.
But the natural heartstrings have not been snapped, and the Adamic flint has not been ground to powder, and the bosom has not throbbed with the lonely, surging sighs of Gethsemane; and not having the real death marks of Calvary, there cannot be that soft, sweet, gentle, floating, victorious, overflowing, triumphant life that flows like a spring morning from an empty tomb.
—G. D. W.
“And great grace was upon them all” (Acts 4:33).