It’s funny how you can be going along in life thinking you’re doing pretty well, and then run smack-dab into a character issue you THOUGHT had been dealt with. Well, actually, “sad” is probably a better choice of words.

Yesterday I wrote about forgiving terrorists and waiting patiently for God’s grace. I really thought that the issue of forgiveness was under control in my life. I mean, come on, if you’re ready to forgive terrorists you must be doing ok, right???? Well, as it turns out, not so much. It seems I missed some internal cues two days ago, and God needed to draw my attention to some unforgiveness in my life. Not once, not even twice. He needed to hit me with it THREE TIMES before it sank through my hard head. (Or is it my hard heart??)

Today’s verse is a straight-to-the heart arrow:

So, as I mentioned, Lesson One was battling with the issue of forgiving Taliban and Haqanni while images I had received that morning of bodies dumped on soccer fields were fresh in my mind. While I was screaming for justice, God was reminding me that I got mercy. He reminded me that, when I was destroying the lives of people, He was patient with me and led me to repentance. And He reminded me that He sees the whole picture, while I can barely grasp that there even IS a picture to be seen. Wonderful reminders, great lessons — BUT not enough to sink in. I needed Lesson Two.

God provided that later in the afternoon in a conversation with one of my best friends as we discussed some all-but-unknown elements behind the shooting of Jacob Blake in Kenosha, Wisconsin in August, 2020. My friend had spent the weekend with Jacob Blake’s pastor, and Lesson Two began as my friend recounted his conversation with Pastor James E. Ward Jr about the things that never made the news in the wake of Blake’s shooting.

For years, Pastor Ward had been teaching how to overcome injustice with a biblical attitude that combines embracing forgiveness with an active determination to love and work together for the best possible outcome. He calls this biblical perspective “Zero Victim.” Julia Jackson, Blake’s mother, had heard it often as she sat in Pastor Ward’s church; as it turns out, she learned her lessons in active forgiveness much better than I have evidently learned mine.

Just after leaving her son’s hospital room on the day he was shot, Julia was mobbed by the media as she exited the hospital. There was blood in the water, and the news sharks were circling and hoping for an angry, explosive outburst from Blake’s mother that would dominate the news cycle. My guess is that most of you never saw video from that encounter, I know I never did; it was repressed because it didn’t fit the narrative of Black Lives Matter and the folk who wanted to raise money and reputation on the backs of others’ pain.

When the reporters were shouting over one another and asking Julia Jackson what she was going to do now that she’d visited her son, her answer stunned them. Her response was that she intended to go and find officer Rusten Sheskey, the man who shot her son. She wanted to tell him that she loved him, that she forgave him and didn’t judge him; but most of all, she hoped that she and Sheskey could work together for peace and stability in their Kenosha community and beyond.


BLM raised tens of millions of dollars using the Kenosha shooting as a talking point. (Not a nickel of which was used to help Jacob Blake, by the way.) The ensuing riots left even more division, death and destruction in their wake. But Julia Jackson kept loving and forgiving. Pastor Ward and the rest of the folk at Insight Church near Chicago kept loving and forgiving. They loved Jacob Blake so well that he ended up coming to Christ; and now Jacob is learning to love and forgive, too.

But Lesson Two in active forgiveness just slipped right by me!!! Oh, I thought it was a wonderful story. I even wrote it down so I could share it with my wife. I just forgot to look at MY HEART and see if I was holding any grudges. To refer back to a phrase from my youth, light had still NOT dawned over Marblehead.

Then came Lesson Three. My wife and I were discussing a situation that would require a conversation, an apology and an expression of heartfelt forgiveness. As we were discussing it together, my frustration was on full display. It became quite obvious that the problem with me giving “an expression of heartfelt forgiveness” was going to be the heartfelt part. Finally, as amazing as it may seem, the light came on !!

How can you love the Lord your God with all of your heart, all your soul and all your strength when you’re holding back sizeable chunks of your heart so you can soak them in self-righteousness, or self-pity, or anger, or unforgiveness, or any of a thousand other sins? Well, obviously, you can’t.

So now we’re back to asking the ONLY ONE who can …

As they say in baseball – “Strike Three !!!! You’re out!”

And I am !! I’m out of excuses, because I’ve been forgiven SO MUCH that I have no right to even consider not forgiving someone else. I’m out of options, because Jesus said, “For if you forgive others their trespasses, your heavenly Father will also forgive you, but if you DO NOT forgive others their trespasses, neither will your Father forgive your trespasses.”

Some bible versions use the word “sin,” instead of trespass. Others use transgression, offense, failure, wrongdoing, or even faults. No matter what you call it when your brother or sister in Christ hasn’t lived up to your standard, Christ makes the choice He’s left you very clear. If you want to be forgiven, then you must forgive. There’s no middle ground—forgive or forget the deal.

So I’m now looking forward to the upcoming discussion. My eyes are where they truly need to be — ON ME !!! I want to be able to love the Lord with A-L-L my heart. I love God so much, He does in me what I cannot do in myself.

Well, that’s my story; what about yours? Is there a wound or some pain in the past that you’ve not forgiven … yet? A pain so deep or so great you don’t think you have it within you to forgive? You may be right, you know. Perhaps you don’t have the capacity within you. But the key to that door begins with a prayer of eight simple words …


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