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God: source and model of forgiveness

February 12, 2024
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Daily Scripture

Isaiah 55:6-8

6 Seek the Lord when he can still be found;
    call him while he is yet near.
7 Let the wicked abandon their ways
    and the sinful their schemes.
   Let them return to the Lord so that he may have mercy on them,
    to our God, because he is generous with forgiveness.
8 My plans aren’t your plans,
    nor are your ways my ways, says the Lord.

Daily Reflection & Prayer

DID YOU KNOW?
Darryl Burton serves as a Connection and Care pastor at Resurrection Leawood. Unjustly convicted of murder, he spent decades in prison, but full evidence finally acquitted him and he attended Saint Paul School of Theology. Darryl preached on February 11, and signed his new book Innocent: A Second Look, now available from The Well bookstore at Resurrection Leawood.

The prophet Isaiah said God forgives generously. “God’s ideas and God’s plans are often different from ours…. [Israelites] have to give up their formulation of how they should be restored, give up their plans, and believe that the word of promise and commission that God has issued will indeed produce its fruit in their restoration as a people. They don’t have to hesitate about doing so; God will be quite happy to pardon them.” * Pastor Darryl Burton found God’s forgiving power despite unjust imprisonment.

  • Isaiah 55 observed that God’s loving, merciful ways are very different from our natural patterns. How does Isaiah’s picture of the gap between God’s mercy and our ways of relating speak to your heart? Are there persons (or groups of people) to whom you do not want to show mercy? Can you trust that God’s ways are indeed different from, and higher than, ours?
  • Two chapters earlier, Isaiah 52:13-53:12 declared that the person God called “my servant” would conquer evil, not by brute force, but by taking all of evil’s worst upon himself. “God’s power is at its greatest not in his destruction of the wicked but in his taking all the wickedness of the earth into himself and giving back love.” ** How do stories of redemption rather than revenge show that God’s higher ways absorb and destroy evil’s power to lastingly hurt others?
Prayer

O Jesus, I’m not God—but you can shape me to be more and more like you. I offer my life to your re-shaping hand, because in the end your forgiving way of life is the best way to live. Amen.

GPS Insights

Mindy LaHood

Mindy LaHood

Mindy LaHood serves as a Worship Experience Specialist at The Church of the Resurrection. She loves all things related to worship and enjoys working with our talented team of staff and volunteers. One of her favorite things to read about and study are stained glass windows, and she considers herself very blessed to work and worship in a place with such a magnificent window.

Forgiveness. It’s a word we hear often, but truly understanding and practicing it can feel like an uphill battle. We all know the sting of hurt; the simmering anger that can take root after someone wrongs us. And let’s be honest, sometimes the hardest person to forgive is ourselves.
I get it. I truly do. In 2015, my world shattered with the end of my marriage. The pain felt like a physical weight, stealing my breath and leaving me gasping for air. But amidst the wreckage, I discovered a profound lesson about forgiveness.
God, in his infinite wisdom, showed me that forgiveness wasn’t about condoning the actions of those who hurt me. It wasn’t about pretending the pain didn’t exist. It was about releasing myself from the grip of that pain, choosing not to let it define me or control my future.
It was hard. Grueling, even. But as I began to forgive, I also began to feel more free. The burden that had weighed me down started to lift. It wasn’t about someone else–they might never know the weight I released–but about the power I reclaimed over my own life. Forgiveness wasn’t a gift to them; it was a gift to myself.
But the journey doesn’t end there. Forgiveness also extends inwards; towards the person we see in the mirror. As a self-proclaimed perfectionist, I’m no stranger to the harsh voice that criticizes every misstep. But I’m learning that holding onto guilt and self-blame only imprisons me.
The truth is, we all make mistakes. We stumble, we fall, and sometimes we leave a mess. But just as God’s forgiveness washes over our imperfections, we can extend that same grace to ourselves and others. It doesn’t mean ignoring shortcomings and wrongdoings; it means acknowledging them with compassion, learning from them, and choosing to move forward with kindness, not condemnation.
I’m not claiming to have all the answers. Forgiveness is a complex, constant work in progress. But when hurt and anger threaten to fill my heart, I find peace in remembering God’s unwavering forgiveness and the true freedom it brings.
I think lessons in forgiveness are a sure constant throughout life, but the reward in each opportunity to forgive is a life unburdened, a heart open to healing and love. God doesn’t want any of us shackled by pain, anger, or an unforgiving spirit. In him, we can find the strength to forgive others, and ourselves. It’s a journey, not a destination, but with each step, we inch closer to the freedom that forgiveness truly offers.

© 2022 Resurrection: A United Methodist Church. All Rights Reserved.
Scripture quotations are taken from The Common English Bible ©2011. Used by permission. All rights reserved.
References

* John Goldingay, Isaiah for Everyone. Louisville: Westminster John Knox Press, 2015, p. 212-213.
** T. Desmond Alexander and Brian S. Rosner, ed. The New Dictionary of Biblical Theology. Downers Grove, IL: InterVarsity Press, 2000, p. 222.