Wednesday, November 30, 2011

What does "forgive" really mean?

As an English major, it's kinda of "my thing" to know what words mean. For instance...

verb (used with object) grant pardon for or remission of (an offense, debt, etc.); absolve. give up all claim on account of; remit (a debt, obligation, etc.).
3. to grant pardon to (a person).
4. to cease to feel resentment against: to forgive one's enemies.
(found at

As a Christian, I understand this word in a different way than just the clinical definition.

1 John 1:9
-- If we confess our sins, He is faithful and righteous to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness.

But as a person? I have trouble with it.
There is a situation right now in my life that requires forgiveness. A big ole' bucket o
f it.
And I am having a hard time pouring that forgiveness out.

In my head I say, "But if I forgive this, it looks like I'm agreeing with the action. It looks like I'm saying, 'No hard feelings, let's be besties always!' or 'Why didn't I think to do it that way? Brilliant!' "
All of these thoughts were so far from where my mind was on the matter.
I could accept the new situation. I could even to a point understand the path that was chosen. But forgive-like-I-was-OK-with-the-choice? So not there.

Until I talked to my friend. My trusted friend. My friend who I can go without weeks talking to (but would never WANT to) and still be able to confide in her and talk and laugh. She is that kind of an amazing, only ever gonna have one or two of them in your life, hang-on-to-for-dear-life kind of friends.

She simply said: Forgiveness doesn't mean what's done is right.

Can that be it?


Because what she said was so totally the Biblical way to think of things. Take the verse I quoted above. The sin that we confess, does Jesus ever say it is right? Nope. In Romans, there is so much time spent of calling sin what it really is, not sugar coating it or trying to justify it. It exists. It is part of us. And it is a problem. But we are also promised forgiveness for it. Does forgiveness make it right? No. It makes it forgiven. Jesus still calls sin "sin." It is still something that needs to be confessed, needs to be made right. Once it is, Jesus doesn't dwell on it. It is done. Forgiven & forgotten, because that is His way.

And you are saying right now, "Laura, that was really obvious. I mean really really obvious."
Yes. Yes it is. But sometimes new situations throw me for a loop. If it doesn't fit the formula, sometimes I have a hard time wrapping my head around it. Even for myself, I have a hard time believing the "confessed, forgiven, forgotten" thing. I think that if I still remember my shortcomings, Jesus must too. Sometimes I think I humanize Jesus a little too much. Yes, He was God and Man, but He was perfect. That means when He says that forgiven sin is forgotten sin, He isn't lying. I think for my situation I was somewhat getting the forgive part down, but totally NOT the forgetting. I would say in my head that I forgave, but constantly was rehashing the whole situation in my head, constructing arguments and debates justifying my anger, my hurt.

My friend's words echoed in my head for days. And I think, maybe, I've reached forgiveness. It took me a while. It was hard. I'm still not sure I can understand it all the way. But if Jesus can forgive and forget my sins, that is one area in my life where I want to work to be like Him.

Tuesday, November 29, 2011

Happy Birthday, Jack!

Today is C.S. Lewis' (or Jack, as he was called by his friends) birthday.

One of my favourite quotes from him is about reading and how it can take you to so many places and experiences without you ever needing to go outside. I found the quote in high school and wrote it down and kept it for years. I cannot for the life of me find that paper. When I do, I promise you will see it!

I read The Four Loves, a fabulous book and favourite of mine, while I was still in high school. I read it again after because there was so much good stuff in it. One of the things Jack says that stuck out to me is this:
“To love at all is to be vulnerable. Love anything and your heart will be wrung and possibly broken. If you want to make sure of keeping it intact you must give it to no one, not even an animal. Wrap it carefully round with hobbies and little luxuries; avoid all entanglements. Lock it up safe in the casket or coffin of your selfishness. But in that casket, safe, dark, motionless, airless, it will change. It will not be broken; it will become unbreakable, impenetrable, irredeemable. To love is to be vulnerable.”

I love that he never says that love is a waste of time. I love that he acknowledges that love is a risk. I love that he makes not taking a risk sound worse than being vulnerable and loving.

Do you have a favourite C. S. Lewis quote? Book? I would love to hear what you love best about Jack & why!

Monday, November 28, 2011

Not to be morbid...

...but happy (belated) death day, Clive Staples Lewis!

photo credit here

Last Tuesday, November 22, marked the 48th anniversary of his death. Current Resident Director at The Kilns, Dr. Debbie Higgens, wrote about Lewis' last day on earth on her blog last week, with Warren Lewis' (CSL's brother) description of the events of the day. If you have a chance, check it out. I think I'm going to need to put the biography she quotes from (Green & Hooper) on my Christmas list!

I think it would be a pretty fair assessment to call him my favourite author of all time. He is, at least, one author I would have given just about anything to meet. I imagine, that if we had met, we would have been friends. We share a love for books, fantasy, children's stories, tea, walks down British lanes, time with friends and, of course, Jesus Christ.
Most of his religious work (or actually, most of his work period) is very scholarly and sometime seems inaccessible to most people, learned or otherwise. I do not believe this was his true nature. He was a scholar, so I would expect his work to reflect that; but he was also an adult man who wrote stories for children very well. In all I read about him, I imagine him to be a very jovial, hobbit-like man, fond of his pipe and home. All in all, a very down to earth, non-pretentious kind of man. (Though not without his faults, as I am sure Joy Gresham Lewis would tell us!)

I wish I really knew why I was so fascinated with his life. He was, after all, just man. No different from the rest of the members of the body of Christ or any other Christian professor. Perhaps it was his journey to Christianity, the long road (30 years!) with atheism and then his amazing and beautiful insights into his new-found faith. Whatever it is, I join with Dr. Debbie when she says we should celebrate "a life well lived for our Lord Jesus Christ!"

If you missed doing anything honorary on his "death day," fret not! His birthday is right around the corner! Let's celebrate C. S. Lewis' birthday together on November 29th by commenting on this blog entry with your favourite book, quote or random tidbit about Jack!