Freedom to Forgive

Today I needed a piano break. My piano breaks are those times when I just need to melt into a peaceful place and reflect for a bit. Not to say that I play well; I still wish I would have paid more attention during my elementary school piano lessons, but I was more interested in other things then.

I have always had a piano in my home. Well, except for the year or two when Ken promised he would learn how to play if we bought an organ instead of a piano because his Dad was a church organist for his entire life. Ken's playing career never did pan out, so I was allowed to get my piano back, and Ken decided to excel at golf instead. Gospel music has always sustained me. I feel the simplicity of the music with words that often speak to the very heart of both despair and hope.

A few weeks ago, a co-worker and friend was in deep despair and took his life. I knew he was depressed, but never dreamed that he was hurting so very much. I was angry. I was sad. I felt guilt. All those human emotions littered my way and I kept stumbling through the days with uncertainty and doubt.

At the memorial service, the pastor acknowledged Brett's despair and how those left behind can hardly fathom the deep pain that brings someone to the point of suicide. He reminded us that this senseless and tragic incident was Brett's choice. No one else chose it for him. But then the pastor walked to the middle of the sanctuary and reached out his hands to those left behind to deliver a message of encouragement and forgiveness. "It's not your fault," he said. "You could not have done anything to change the outcome. You are forgiven. Jesus died on that cross and laid down his life so that you can be free."

During a Bible study many years ago, I remarked that I believe that I don't have to ask Jesus to forgive me. I believe that I am forgiven because I am a child of God. A discussion ensued following my bold philosophical announcement. I further explained that instead of asking for Jesus to forgive me, I would far rather focus on asking for forgiveness from those here on earth whom I have wronged. Last week, a dear friend called me to remind me about the discussion we had on this topic during our Bible study. He said he gets it now. He didn't then.

Forgiveness starts with me. I am harder on myself than on anyone else. I see my own failures, inadequacies and shortfalls and am certain that everyone else sees them too. What if we choose to see us as Jesus sees us? How can that change how we feel about ourselves?

Put away the fear, uncertainty and doubt and replace it with courage and joy. We are so blessed. Quit beating up on yourself. Oh yes, there will always be those hard days. But today during my piano break, I turned to this song and was reminded how much I am loved.

The Way That He Loves
The way that he loves is as fair as the day
That blesses my way with light
The way that he loves is as soft as the breeze
Caressing the trees at night
So tender and precious is he
Contented with Jesus I'll be
The way that he loves is so thrilling because
His love reaches even me [editorial comment: oh how I love that phrase!! Even me!]

The way that he loves is as deep as the sea
His Spirit shall be my stay
The way that he loves is as pure as a rose
Much sweeter he grows each day
His peace hovers near like a dove
I know there's a heaven above
To Jesus I'll cling - life's a wonderful thing
Because of the way he loves

W Elmo Mercer

W. Elmo Mercer was born in 1932. He had no musical background and no college degree. He took two years of piano lessons in 4th and 5th grade and became a church pianist at age 13. He has now written more than 1,600 songs and had about 600 of them published/recorded. He lives in Nashville now with his wife and continues to be involved in evangelism work there.

You are a child of God. You are forgiven. Forgive those around you and be fully blessed!

Carole Schumacher

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