One day a while back, a man, his heart heavy with grief, was walking in the woods. As he thought about his life that day, he knew many things were not right. He thought of those who had lied about him, back when he had a job.
His thoughts turned to those who had stolen his things and cheated him. He remembered his family that had passed on. His mind turned to the illness he had that no one could cure. His very soul was filled with anger, resentment and frustration.
Standing there that day, searching for answers he could not find, knowing all else had failed him, he knelt at the base of an old oak tree to seek the one he knew would always be there, and with tears in his eyes, he prayed:
“Lord – You have done wonderful things for me in this life. You have told me to do many things for you, and I happily obeyed. Today, you have told me to forgive. I am sad, Lord because I cannot. I don’t know how. It is not fair Lord. I didn’t deserve these wrongs that were done against me and I shouldn’t have to forgive. As perfect as your way is Lord, this one thing I cannot do, for I don’t know how to forgive. My anger is so deep Lord, I fear I may not hear you, but I pray that you teach me to do this one thing I cannot do – Teach me To Forgive.”
As he knelt there in the quiet shade of the old oak tree, he felt something fall on his shoulder. He opened his eyes. Out of the corner of one eye, he saw something red on his shirt. He could not turn to see what it was because where the oak tree had been, was a large square piece of wood on the ground. He raised his head and saw two feet held to the wood with a large spike through them. He raised his head more, and tears came to his eyes as he saw, Jesus hanging on a cross. He saw spikes in His hands, a gash in His side, a torn and battered body, deep thorns sunk into His head.
Finally, he saw the suffering and pain in His precious face. As their eyes met, the man’s tears turned to sobbing and Jesus began to speak.
“Have you ever told a lie,” He asked? The man answered, “Yes, Lord.”
“Have you ever been given too much change and kept it?” The man answered, “Yes, Lord,” and he sobbed more and more.
“Have you ever taken something from work that wasn’t yours,” Jesus asked? And the man answered, “Yes, Lord.”
“Have you ever sworn, using my Father’s name in vain?” The man, crying, even more, answered, “Yes, Lord.”
…the questions continued… “Have you ever?” The man’s crying was uncontrollable, for he could only answer, “Yes, Lord.”
Then Jesus turned and bowed his head. The man felt something fall on his other shoulder, he looked and saw that it was more blood. When he looked back up, his eyes met those of Jesus, and there was a look of love that the man had never seen or known before.
Jesus said, “I didn’t deserve this either, but I forgive you.”
When I once suggested to a man that he must try to forgive the sinner although understandably, the sin was awful, he angrily replied, “Never, never”. I was very shocked, yet I could understand his terrible hurt.
If only we could turn back that clock!
However, Jesus turned the clock back for all of us. That’s also something we don’t readily accept. God is both loving and, today, merciful; talk to him.