Have you ever noticed that blame is never beautiful?
Deferring responsibility may be celebrated, but it only entices others at the expense of creating victims. Forgiveness though, that is beautiful. It has the power to free the victim and the guilty party. Jesus forgave his executioners while it was happening, not holding their responsibility against them for crucifying the One whom they did not know.
Jesus says, “You did it, but you didn’t know, and I offer you my embrace.”
It is beautiful yet fearful. The Psalms state forgiveness makes God fearful because God is the only one that can truly cleanse us from our wrong. And that is terrifying, yet equally terrifying is the Spirit God gives that enables us to forgive. I am presently overwhelmed by this, primarily because of having to take responsibility for myself.
I am responsible for my anger, even rage, for what I do with my feelings, for who absorbs it, for how I act in light of the temptation to despair. I am responsible for what I do with my time so long as God allows me to wake up to new mercies every morning. Nobody else gets to choose what I do with my day or how I heal, except me and God.
I’m reading the Chronicles of Narnia for the first time and I am currently on Book 4 Prince Caspian. Until yesterday, it was my least favorite of the books, until Aslan came and talked to Lucy. I’ll share the excerpts, you can fill in the meaning.
“I didn’t mean to start slanging the others. But it wasn’t my fault anyway, was it?” asked Lucy.
The Lion looked straight into her eyes.
“Oh Aslan, you don’t mean it was? How could I–I couldn’t have left the others and come up to you alone, how could I? Don’t look at me like that… oh well, I suppose I could. Yes, and it wouldn’t have been alone, I know, not if I was with you. But what would have been the good?”
Aslan said nothing.
“You mean,” Lucy said rather faintly, ‘that it would have turned out all right– somehow? But how? Please, Aslan! Am I to know?
Jesus, I mean Aslan, says “No” to the answer of what would have happened in the past if we had obeyed. Instead he offers a way forward in forgiveness. Because He has already made a way.
Oh how Lucy wrestles internally without an immediate reply, without an answer to the why.
“Oh dear, oh dear, said Lucy. “And I was so pleased at finding you again. And I thought you’d let me stay. And I thought you’d come roaring in and frighten all the enemies away– like last time. And now everything is going to be horrid.”
“It is hard for you, little one,” said Aslan. “But things never happen the same way twice. It has been hard for us all in Narnia before now.”
Lucy buried her head in his mane to hide from his face. But there must have been magic in his mane. She could feel lion-strength going into her. Quite suddenly she sat up.
“I’m sorry, Aslan,” she said. “I’m ready now.”
No.. body… else. Nobody else can have a relationship with Jesus for us, and we shouldn’t want someone else to have it for us. I should want it for myself. I should want his lion heart love for myself because Jesus will not leave me alone especially when I bury my head in my pillow with tears crying out for help.
I made the choice to move back to New Jersey. I made the choice to switch jobs. I made the choice to yell and curse and critique the body of Christ. I made the choice to get my hopes up and make my heart vulnerable and spend time with the dying. I make the choice to be quirky and weird, to dress like I don’t care, to get a cat, to write, to wrestle, to reflect too much, and all of it could become a vapor in a moment because I am responsible but not always in control.
And that’s where the surrender comes. That’s where the “I’m sorry, I’m ready now,” comes into play. I can get up and go. Forget about blame and go and not let love be hindered.
Forgiven much, love much.
I have one more passage if you’ve gone this far. It’s Aslan to Susan, Lucy’s sister, who didn’t believe and could not see Aslan longer than her other 3 siblings.
“You have listened to fears, child, ” said Aslan. “Come, let me breathe on you. Forget them. Are you brave again?”
“A little, Aslan,” said Susan.
Me too, Susan. Add our little to Christ’s infinite much and I’m hopeful we will be more than okay. I’m hopeful that I will stop getting angry, then exhausted by the restlessness of my soul. I’m hopeful for the breath and wind of the Spirit to overcome me each day, to posture myself to move and live and have my being in Christ.
Responsible, yet forgiven and more beautiful than blame.
Set apart, beloved, no longer hindered by shame