By Tammy Priest
Friday, January, 13, 2017
And be kind and compassionate to one another, forgiving one another, just as God also forgave you in Christ. Ephesians 4:32 HCSB
I saw his face across the room, and wanted desperately to crawl under the nearest rock. But there wasn't one to be found.
I'd entered the University Chapel for my first student discipleship gathering. As a baby Christian, I was wide-eyed and joy-filled. And thrilled to be invited to worship with this family of faith.
Until I saw him.
Memories flooded back from one of my worst moments in college. Fueled by lostness and loneliness, and sparked by alcohol, I'd made a fool of myself and thoroughly embarrassed a nice Christian guy in front of a lot of people. I was kindly advised to never show my face in that place again.
That experience was just one in a giant heap I'd dropped at the foot of the Cross. I'd asked God to collectively forgive my pile of brokenness so I could move on. But here was a living reminder of very broken days.
He'd caught my eye and was walking toward me.
Panic set in. "I'm so, so sorry," I gushed. He cocked his head. "For what?"
Really? I thought, with some guilty anger. He's making me go there? Fine. I deserve it.
"For that night I made an idiot of myself. I'm so sorry! I was a mess back then and I'm so sorry."
He shook his head. "I don't know what you're talking about."
"Yes you do. I --"
"Tammy." His tone stopped me. Eyebrows raised and eyes kind, he spoke slowly. "I. don't. remember. that."
I was dumbfounded. Then overwhelmed.
This guy hadn't literally forgottenwhat happened, but he'd chosen to forget. He'd chosen to look at me as a new creation in Christ. Without shaming me first.
Forgiveness suddenly became a reality, not a nebulous spiritual term. Yes, God knows all. But when we've cried out and taken cover under Christ's atoning blood, He chooses to forget. And, like my friend, God isn't in the business of shaming people who seek His redemption.
Because of the grace this friend extended, I also experienced a vivid picture of what it meant to forgive someone in Christ. To choose not to remember. To release them. Release me.
I left that evening feeling even lighter than when I'd walked in. I couldn't wait to start forgiving people I'd harbored bitterness toward for years. Not because they'd asked for or "deserved" it, but because it's what had been done for me, both by a friend and God.
Take time to really ponder the forgiveness God has extended to you, thank Him for His redemption of your brokenness, and ask Him to give you a spirit of forgiveness toward others.
Lord, help me to comprehend the forgiveness You extend to me. It came at such a great cost, and yet You offer it to me freely. Help me to accept it and believe it. And help me to extend that same grace and forgiveness to others. Even when I don't think they "deserve" it. Give me joy in the forgiveness You give to me, and through the forgiveness I extend to others, in Christ my Redeemer. Amen.
© 2017 by Tammy Priest. All rights reserved.
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Originally published Friday, 13 January 2017.