Friday, September 11, 2009

Clinks and Chinks: Stories on Forgiveness

Clink, clink, clink! Most of us have heard the familiar ringing sound of something sharp or metal being tapped against the side of a glass. For example, you have probably attended a wedding in which the best man is going to make a special announcement or a toast to the bride and groom. The clinking is to say, "Listen up, I have something to speak of which is of great importance! Now quiet! And give of your full attention!"

Then there are the seemingly internal clinks that ring in our hearts and thoughts throughout the day should we choose to take notice of them. Over the last couple of days, there have been several of these little clinking, ringing alarms calling to me.They have been profound yet gentle. And I wonder, "Why?" Maybe I need to be reminded of something? Maybe God is speaking a message for my own life? Well, the clinks that have been beckoning to my heart are drawing my attention to some hindering chinks that are not God's best for me.

Before I expound on what I mean by "chinks", I would like to share a couple of stories. Just yesterday I heard a true account of an elderly man and several teenage boys. These young guys were following behind the man in their car and became frustrated as well as down right angry because they thought the elderly man was driving too slowly. They decided to follow him to his destination. As they aggresively plunged out of the car, they attacked the innocent citizen. They beat him so badly that he lost 10 of his teeth and ended up with over 40,000 dollars of needed dental repair.

Of course, the teen boys were arrested for the crime. As they sat in court with their parents facing the judge and the battered old man, the boys were ordered that they would be responsible for paying the full cost of the dental work. However, the elderly man in his grace and forgiveness chose to give the 40,000 dollars back to the boys and their parents to be placed in a college fund for each of them.

As I listened to this powerful story of forgiveness and mercy, I wondered if I would be so gracious in that situation. This man did not even know these teenagers. And I began to think of how often we all hold unforgiveness and refuse to extend grace to those who have injured us in some way. Sometimes we hold things against others and they do not even know they did something to hurt us. There was no malicious intention to begin with.

Another story that hits closer to home are of my own bouts with unforgiveness. Early in my marriage, my husband did some things that hurt me. We were in divorce court twice in one year and were separated during that time. I had so much unforgiveness toward him that I had resolved in my mind that I no longer loved him. However, through a series of events and difficult choices, we came together and found healing in our marriage. In God's grace we have been married now for 25 years and we love each other more than ever. However, we both had to choose to move forward and forgive one another.

Then there is the story of my only sibling. My brother and I were close in our childhood. However, we both were married and drifted apart. There have been many times over the years when I held unforgiveness toward him because to me it seemed he did not care any longer about our relationship. Just over the past year or so, I began to have these "clinks" or reminders that I could have lost my brother to death many years ago. He was shot with a pistol when he was 12 years old as he and a friend were playing with the loaded weapon. My brother almost died.

Just recently, he had to have surgery on his shoulder. It was not a serious surgery, but I knew he would be put to sleep. "Clink". There went the bell again. I knew I needed to and wanted to call him to say, "I love you!" And we talked as if we were kids again.

Now what about the "chinks" I formerly mentioned? What does this have to do with unforgiveness? Many times when we are startled or awakened by these awakening clinks, the little "ding ding" in our souls, God kindly brings a clear awareness of our "chinks". A chink is a fissure or a crack. When we are hurt or offended especially by those closest to us we take on some of the most painful blows and wounds. The unhealed fractures and punctures are the very "chinks" which hinder us from all the blessings God wants to bestow upon our lives. However, God in His mercy provides the very cement needed to fill those fissures and make us whole again.

As we meditate and recall the excruciating event of the terrorist attacks of 9/11,may we be reminded once again of the frailty of life. I wonder how many people in those buildings left this world with unforgiveness in their hearts? And I ponder and question how many loved ones who lost a loved one that day had unfilled chinks caused by unforgiveness? There may still be many regrets to this day.

As the Lord has been bringing some of my own chinks to the surface so that I may face them, He is being faithful to fill them with the paste of His grace. However, I have been going through the process of acknowledging that "Yes, I do have some fractures of unforgiveness". And I have realized the importance of relinquishing those to the Lord rather than trying to nurse my own brokenness in my fickle and futile strength.

What about you? Have you been hearing any soft or maybe alarming "clinks" lately? Is God gently exposing unforgiveness in your heart? Here are a few questions that may help you to see if God needs to fill your fissures of unforgiveness.

Do you generally feel "okay" about people who have hurt you with no sense of lingering hurt or bitterness?

Do you feel a loving warmth and desire for their success and happiness?

Do you feel an empathetic hurt for their hurts without a private sense of pleasure that perhaps they are getting what they deserve?

Do you miss having fellowship with them and wish you could restore relationships (even if wisdom says you can't)?

If you happened to see them walking down the sidewalk toward you, would you be happy for the encounter, or would you want to cross the street to the other side, or duck into a store to avoid having to meet them?

Are you able to feel comfortable about opportunities of being around them? If invited to a meeting or a party which they are likely to attend, would that spark a joy in your heart for the opportunity to see them, or would you decline to attend?

These are just a few questions to maybe ponder. However, I have to constantly be reminded that wounds will come and once again I will have to choose forgiveness if I want my life to be filled with peace and abundance. Forgiveness is a daily choice and a process we work through as we walk hand in hand with the only ONE who can truly bring healing. So Beloved ones, I am overjoyed that God loves us completely with chinks and all. And that He would even take time to ring out those little "clinks" to remind us of our need of merciful Father who is faithful to fill the fissures of unforgiveness. so I leave you with this question.... Is there someone you need to call today?

Blessings to all!


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