“Therefore let it be known to you, brethren, that through this Man is preached to you the forgiveness of sins;” Acts 13:38
I have a problem. I’m a sinner. As much as I don’t want to be, I simply can’t help myself. I believe everyone has their 2-3 most favoritest sins of all. I certainly have mine.
The noble, completely faithful wannabe part of me stands guard…periodically…against temptations. Like Gandolph in Lord of the Rings, he stands alone on the bridge, barring the way of the demon rising from the pit.
Meanwhile, my inner Smeagol waits in the shadows.
“Smeagol only wants the temptationses to look at. Smeagol won’t be bad and take the temptationses. We just wants a look. My precious temtptationses!”
Like some pathetic figure, I argue back and forth in my own head, “Yes/no, yes/no, yes/no…” I completely understands Paul’s lament that he doesn’t do the good he desires and does the evil he disdains.
When I lay down at night, I’m thinking I should pray and give thanks for the day and all its blessings. Then I think it’s also time to ask for forgiveness for all the “preciouses” I clutched to my chest all day, if I should die before I wake. Some nights I can barely do it. The whisper in my head tells me that I have no right to even ask. I knew better!
Except for those times I sin as quickly as my leg jerking for a reflex test. Someone trips over something at the mouth of that particularly dark cave deep inside me and…
RELEASE THE KRAKEN!!
Yeah, I don’t deserve forgiveness. I don’t even deserve to ask for it, crouched low to avoid the lightning. Just lie here. Shrivel up. Accept the inevitable.
Like most people, I’m not very good at accepting compliments. I feel a bit embarrassed. Someone gives me a gift, and I feel a bit awkward. I’m the husband, the dad. I don’t get gifts. I’m supposed to give them.
Accepting forgiveness, especially when you have the need to do it every…day, is a tough gig. But here’s something I remember learning a while back. Accepting something graciously from someone is a giving of sorts also. If someone goes to the trouble of shopping, buying, wrapping, and delivering a gift, honor that gift with acceptance. Anything else is a slap in the face, right?
So, in my mind, which we all know runs a little on the weird side sometimes, I see Jesus rising from the grave. He’s standing with His back to us on a small hill, arms spread wide, in a pure white robe, the glory of God backlighting our Saviour in His moment of triumph. Slowly He turns to face the camera…er, us…a brilliant smile lighting His face, looking to bestow His forgiveness on His grateful followers, and we see…
…nothing. An empty field. Crickets chirp. Cut back to Jesus’ face, which falls perceptibly. He might turn back toward the light of God, throw His hands in the air.
“I did all that for this?!?” My mind has Him saying other things, which I’m pretty sure He wouldn’t say, but you get the picture.
Ask for forgiveness. Accept it. Rejoice in it! It’s what Jesus is hoping for. After all that He did, should we ignore it, because we don’t feel worthy? Jesus gave us every indication that we are worthy. To Him. He loves us. That’s why He endured all of those temptations and horrors.
As Paul warned, we shouldn’t sin more “so that grace may abound.” We still resist. However, when the inner Smeagol has his way, when the kraken bursts forth, Jesus is there with His free gift of forgiveness.
Honor the gift!