A few weeks ago or so, I had an incredible, personal, touching encounter with God. I was sitting at a desk, overwhelmed with a sense of my sinfulness, my helplessness and my longing for the help of God. As I sat there, God directed my mind to some thoughts which I hope I’ll never forget.
I realized how incredible God’s forgiveness is. I was reminded of how much Jesus suffered for my sins...my sins. I was reminded of how I have always known that Jesus died for my sins, but for too long, I did not think much about what He went through for me. I need to digress a little and share a little background on my walk with God before returning to this particular experience.
At age 11 (and possibly before then), I knowingly lived a life apart from God. I had an intellectual knowledge of what He had done for me, but my heart was not surrendered to God and I took His death on the cross for granted…or rather hardly ever thought of it at all. How selfish of me! How selfish and hurtful to God! And yet, Jesus was merciful to me.
Throughout my teens, I was grateful for all that God did for me: for the changes in my life and heart. I had an active relationship with the Lord, but something was missing. Throughout my teens, and up to age 21, I don’t remember being especially touched by what Jesus went through for me on the cross and I don’t remember mourning for what my sins had done to Him.
God understood the way that I was. He understood my selfishness, ignorance and unbelief, and He also understood my sincerity, my love for Him and for others and my desire to please Him. He was merciful to me.
While in a state of brokenness at age 21, God showed me mercies through other people which melted my heart and caused me to finally be willing to think about the cross (I used to avoid thinking much about the cross). When I did, I saw that there was NO way that I could save myself. I saw that I couldn’t even pay the penalty of my own sins by dying for my own sins. I saw that I had only one hope: Jesus. I saw that rejecting His blood bought offer of salvation would accomplish only one thing: breaking His heart. That’s all.
This thought was too much for me. My walk with Him, which was already sincere and earnest, became even more so. My love for Him grew. I saw Him in a new light. The experience was so incredible that I felt as though I had never known Jesus before. This experience ebbed and flowed and swelled and grew until I was led, as a result of this experience and other very significant ones as well, to be rebaptized about a year and a half later.
Back to today’s story: I was going through a darker patch in my Christian experience, and God’s forgiveness was the most desirable thing on earth to me. I was reminded of how much Jesus suffered for my sins…my sins. I was reminded of how I have always known that Jesus died for my sins, but for too long, I did not think much about what He went through for me (part of this paragraph is copied and pasted from the second paragraph in this blog-post).
Now, I realized how kind He has been to me: how, throughout my life, even during times when I did not really love Him, Jesus has kept on loving me. Even now, whenever I sin, Jesus is quick to forgive me when I come to Him in repentance. Why? What is in this for Him? But Jesus forgives me because He loves me…and why I can’t fully understand, but I’m grateful and I love Him too.
I accept Jesus’ forgiveness, His love and His power to live like Him. I want to love others with the love that He has for me and for all of us. I want to forgive more fully: not just so that I can release anger and bitterness from my own heart (which is wonderful!), but also so that my heart can be filled with love for even those who may not love me. I want to pray for people who may be against me, and to reconcile with them whenever it is safe to and possible for me to do so. I want to put myself aside. I want to comfort and encourage those who hurt me, letting them know that through Jesus, they may be forgiven and transformed. I want them to know that I believe that they can and will become different people if they will only take hold of Jesus’ strength. This is the kind of forgiveness that I see in God and it warms my heart.
“For thus says the High and Lofty One Who inhabits eternity, whose name is Holy: ‘I dwell in the high and holy place, With him who has a contrite and humble spirit, To revive the spirit of the humble, And to revive the heart of the contrite ones.
For I will not contend forever, Nor will I always be angry; For the spirit would fail before Me, And the souls which I have made.
For the iniquity of his covetousness I was angry and struck him; I hid and was angry, And he went on backsliding in the way of his heart.
I have seen his ways, and will heal him; I will also lead him, And restore comforts to him And to his mourners’.” Isaiah 57:15-18 (NKJV)
“I will bear the indignation of the LORD, because I have sinned against him, until he plead my cause, and execute judgment for me: he will bring me forth to the light, and I shall behold his righteousness.” Micah 7:9 (KJV)
” And when they were come to the place, which is called Calvary, there they crucified him, and the malefactors, one on the right hand, and the other on the left.
Then said Jesus, Father, forgive them; for they know not what they do. ..” Luke 23:33-34 (KJV)
Thank You so much for your incredible love for us. Thank You so much for the forgiveness that You freely extend to us whenever we are sincerely repentant for our sins. Thank You that You make us willing to be repentant when we ask You for help. Please fill our hearts with Your love and help us to extend it to everyone we meet. Help us to delight in mercy just as You do (Micah 7:18 ). Please help us to remember how You have forgiven us and to forgive each other too.
Thank You so much for Your deep and selfless love for each and every one of us.
In Jesus’ Name Amen
I quoted Isaiah 57:15-18 from the New King James Version®. Copyright © 1982 by Thomas Nelson. Used by permission. All rights reserved.