“Father, forgive them…” The first words uttered by Jesus after His scourged body was nailed to the cross. I’ve been pondering that…. and its meaning.
Keeping with this theme of forgiveness, here is an open letter I wrote to an “adopted” child:
An open letter to my child. To find peace, you must forgive.
My darling child,
You are deeply troubled. You feel the world closing in on you and you feel you are a failure. You are not.
You are in anguish. So many things are not going well for you right now. And things past continue to burden your heart. You must find peace in your heart and mind to go on.
My child, you feel rejected. You despair. But there are so many, many blessings in your life. You know this, yet you cannot enjoy these blessing because you are so full of uncertainty and anguish.
You asked me to pray for you, and I have done just that. This morning, I knelt in the sanctuary of my church, seeking guidance. And through the Holy Spirit, Jesus has responded.
As I was coming home, I tuned to a radio station I seldom listen to. The message was from Ephesians, and I quote a portion of it here:
13But now in Christ Jesus you who once were far away have been brought near by the blood of Christ. 14 For he himself is our peace, who has made the two groups one and has destroyed the barrier, the dividing wall of hostility, 15 by setting aside in his flesh the law with its commands and regulations. His purpose was to create in himself one new humanity out of the two, thus making peace, 16 and in one body to reconcile both of them to God through the cross, by which he put to death their hostility. 17 He came and preached peace to you who were far away and peace to those who were near. 18 For through him we both have access to the Father by one Spirit.
My child, the past is done. It cannot be changed or undone. You must confront your own heart. You must unburden yourself of the pain and anguish, of the guilt you harbor although you are guiltless.
Child, you must forgive those who have brought this pain to you… forgive finally and completely.
Child, I know that confrontation does not come easily to you. You are gentle and caring and loving of heart. But the anguish you feel has caused you to build walls that must come down. And to do this you must accept, fully, the help of the Holy Spirit, brought to you as a gift from Christ Jesus. You must forgive, repent for the void of love in your heart.
For the one nearest you, the one who has sought forgiveness, express it openly, and with the love that is in your heart.
For the others who have hurt you so deeply, forgive them in your heart. Unburden your heart once and for all, completely. For those who have not sought your forgiveness, you need not express it to them. To them, it would be hollow. But to God, through Christ Jesus and the power of the Spirit, free your heart of this pain.
My child, until you forgive, fully and without reservation, you will not feel the forgiveness of God, even though you have been forgiven. It will not be easy. But this is something you must do.
Dear child, this forgiveness will not release you from the other burdens you carry. But it will free you to address them with God’s assistance.
I turn to a long neglected, but favored book from my past on Zen. “Peace of mind is not at all superficial really. It is the whole thing.” If you do not have peace of mind, and of heart, as you address these other difficulties in your life, child, you will just build those past problems into everything else. Lay them at Jesus’ feet. His shoulders are broad. His burden light. He will carry this burden for you.
Child, as a father loves his children, I love you. Just as your Father in heaven loves you.
You live always in my prayers and in my heart, child.
Find solace, shalom in that.
With the love of a father,