Some people give up something for Lent. As I reflected on this spiritual practice, I asked The Lord if He wanted me to give up something.
His Answer was quick.
I was baffled. I thought I was already doing that. However, The Lord clarified.
“I want you to forgive unconditionally.”
He reminded me that even as the soldiers were driving the nails into Jesus’ Body, He said, “Father, forgive them. They do not know what they are doing.”
That always seemed like a big leap to me. The Roman soldiers certainly knew what they were doing. They had been trained for the job. They had brought all the right tools to carry it out. They knew they were torturing and killing people. They were experts at it.
How could Jesus say they did not know what they were doing?
He said it because He knew they could not see the larger picture. They did not understand the full implications of their actions. They did not understand they were committing a crime against God Himself.
Jesus saw them as they were, so tied up in sin they could no longer see The Way, The Truth and The Life even when He was right in front of them.
Jesus came to set the captives free. In His Moments of forgiveness, He offered them a Full Pardon.
We don’t know how many accepted His Pardon. We just know the first drops of Jesus’ Blood fell on them.
I think of all the times in my life when I have sinned. Sometimes I knew I was choosing sin. Sometimes I honestly did not know. Even now, there may be times I sinned and did not know.
But as I reflect, I recognize that each and every time, Jesus turned to The Father and said, “Father, forgive her. She does not know what she is doing.”
Can I do any less with those who hurt me, past, present or future?
What if we used Lent as a starting point to unconditional forgiveness?
Instead of trying to forget those who hurt us, what if we deliberately remembered them? But instead of seeing them as sinful people, what if we asked God to reveal to us how they look freed and restored by His Grace and His Mercy that flows through us?
Learning unconditional forgiveness will undoubtedly be a continuing journey for me. Maybe that is why Lent lasts for a whole season. God is mercifully giving us time to reset to His Heart.
I invite you to join me in my Prayer to begin the Lenten journey.
Father, please forgive me for not fully forgiving. I have said I forgave, but I was quick to run to that closet where I store up hurts.
I was quick to review them again, trying to prove how right I was and how wrong they were.
I was quick to keep a record of wrongs. I know you said our sins you would remember no more. I know Paul said Love doesn’t keep a record of wrongs, but I do. Father forgive me.
I have spoken wrongly when I said “he/she will never change.” Father, forgive my lack of faith in Your Ability to make everything and everyone new.
I have made my forgiveness conditional. I have put limits where You put none. I have attempted to get others to pay me to forgive them. Father, forgive me.
Thank you for all the times You put your arms around me and whispered, “I forgive you. You don’t know what you are doing.”
As You forgave me, I must forgive. As you have loved, I am now privileged to love others. Thank You, Father.
Be kind and compassionate to one another, forgiving each other, just as in Christ God forgave you.