The scrambled egg incident…

It was a few months ago when I was awoken by my five-year old whispering.  “Daddy, I’m hungry.  I want some scrambled eggs.”  To which I replied, “O.K. little man, I’ll get up and make you scrambled eggs.”  Without any hesitation he responded, “No, I want to make the eggs.”

I was surprised, to say the least.  However, perhaps I shouldn’t have been.  He and his younger brother have been assisting me in the kitchen for years now.  They know where many of our common ingredients and utensils are.  They have helped me add ingredients to bowls (including cracking eggs).  They have helped me mix ingredients.  They have assisted by putting oil in pans and pouring mixtures in to be cooked.  They have learned how to carefully stir,  flip and remove foods with the use of a spatula.  In retrospect, I had gradually taught them all of the parts required to prepare a few dishes on the stove top all by themselves.  Now, on this otherwise quite normal morning, my five-year old woke up and thought to himself, “I know how to make scrambled eggs all by myself.”  And that was exactly what he wanted to do. With just a bit of supervision and encouragement along the way.

I followed him downstairs and watched as he went to get the step stool and turn on the stove.  “This one?”  he asked as he reached for the knob to turn on the burner.  “Yes, that one.”  I responded.  “What number?  Here?”  he asked.  “Number 6.  Yes, that’s good.”  I answered.  He proceeded to take out the eggs and a bowl.  He added a little salt and water into the eggs and mixed them.  He poured some olive oil in the pan and then added the eggs.  He gently mixed the eggs around in the pan and flipped them over.  Finally,he got out a plate, put it next to the stove and scooped the eggs onto his plate.  I took a little taste of the eggs my little chef had prepared.  They were good.  He thought so too.

While this is not the first life skill our children have learned, this skill seems so…grown up.  In fact I know many adults who could not make scrambled eggs nearly as well as my little man.  Am I proud of him? Absolutely!  But as I think about the fact that he has been so well schooled in this skill, I find myself asking what other abilities I am instilling.  I am pretty sure that I have said this before, but I think it is worth saying again.  Our children are our apprentices in life.  They may not end up doing what we do for a living, but they are learning how to live through our raising of them.  Through our presence and our absence, through our intentional and unintentional influence, they are being shaped into their futures.  They will follow our lead or they will wander from the lack thereof.

My prayer is that just as my eldest has begun to learn the art of cookery, our children will grow in their capacity to practice their trust in God each day.   If the scrambled egg incident has taught me anything it is that a great way to lead them to this goal is to invite them to observe and then participate with me as I follow Jesus.   I can let them repeat after me as I pray and then ask them to offer their prayers.  I can invite them along as I help others and then encourage them to do the same in their own lives.  When they need to be forgiven I can share with them how much I love them and how much God loves them, and what He did for them in Christ, and then encourage them to do the same when others need forgiveness.  By inviting them to observe and then join me in trusting God, I may find myself waking up one day to one of our kids saying, “Daddy, I have a problem.  I don’t know how to solve it.  Will you come pray with me?”

Forgiveness

Forgiveness is tough! And you might think it should be easier with those you love and live with every day, but those are sometimes the hardest people to forgive.  It’s all those familiar little and not so little ways they fail us every day, time and time again, that start to wear on us.  Sometimes it is those little things that we find the hardest to let go of.  But forgiveness is a huge part of what is means to be a follower of Christ.

Many people see church going folk as hypocrites; as holier than thou types.  And unfortunately there are many of those among our ranks.  However, we are not supposed to be that way.  We are supposed to be humble…caring…forgiving.  Our faith is all about God’s desire and capacity to forgive us and to reverse the effects of all that we have screwed up in the world and our lives.  Just as we trust in God’s desire and ability to forgive us – a fact that is made clear in the ministry of Jesus – followers of Jesus are to extend that same forgiveness to those who have hurt them.  We are called to forgive from the heart all who have hurt us.  Can it be said anymore plainly than it is in the prayer Jesus taught, “Forgive  us our sins as we forgive those who sin against us.” 

Remember Jesus took the penalty of your sins, of your parents’ sins, of your spouse’s sins, of your children’s sins, of your ex best friends sins, of your sworn enemies sins.  He took it all.  That is the message we have been given to proclaim and live out in the world.  And that means not simply sitting back and watching the people who have hurt us squirm, and suffer as God passes judgment on them.  Forgiving from the heart is about letting them know they have forgiveness.  Not just from God but from you. Put simply, forgiveness is about giving undeserved pardon in response to wrongs done and right actions not being done.  That’s it.  It is undeserved.  It cannot be earned.  It cannot be paid back.  It is free and clear. 

I forgive you…They are easy words to say.  Say them with me.  “I forgive you…” but it is not nearly as easy to do sometimes.  Maybe you have been hurt in ways you can’t even bring yourself to say.  Maybe it was by somebody close to you.  A family member or friend.  Someone you thought you could trust.  Or maybe you have been hurt by someone you hardly even know but what they did hurt so much that you just cannot find it in your heart to forgive them. 

I know what that feels like.  I remember a time in my life when I found myself praying to God night after night that He would help me forgive someone who deep down inside I hated – someone who I wanted to see suffer for the heartache they cause me and others I cared about.   Hear what I am saying.  Forgiving is not easy.  But God’s Word is clear.  As His people – people who know what it is to be forgiven – we are called to forgive others their sins just as we have been forgiven. 

Over the past few months I have seen and heard many, many…too many heart breaking stories of betrayal, abandonment, lies and deception.  People’s lives are being destroyed as people victimize each other.  But what is worse in my eyes than the fact that people are hurting each other, is the fact that’s people seem so unwilling to freely offer forgiveness to others.  Grudges are held for weeks and months and even years and lifetimes.  Judgment is passed, forgiveness withheld and emotional wounds don’t even have the chance to leave scars.  They just stay on the surface of our emotions as festering open sores, waiting to be bumped up against and infected.  In stead of working for reconciliation we assign blame and seek vengeance.  We want pay back. 

Forgiveness is not forgiveness if it has to be earned by the one who has sinned.  Forgiveness is only forgiveness if it is given out of love.  Forgiveness is only forgiveness when payment of the sin is taken on by someone other than the sinner.  This is what Jesus meant when He said “Love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you.” He meant forgive them and pray that they turn from their hurtful ways so that they might receive the forgiveness being freely offered to them.

Forgiveness does not mean that we make light of sin.  It doesn’t mean that sin is “ok.”  Forgiveness never means that you accept the sin.  Sin is always unacceptable.  Forgiveness does not turn a blind eye to the sin someone is committing.   Forgiveness speaks the truth in love.  It says, “What you are doing is wrong.  But I love you and want to be in relationship with you.  So, I will not hold your past sins against you.  Now stop sinning.” We do not excuse someone who is in sin.  We speak the truth to them in love.  We call them out on their sin and we offer them peace with us and God through Christ.  We invite them back into right relationship with us.

In light of our sin the ultimate way God shows love for us is through forgiveness.  If I had to sum up the whole of Scripture.  I don’t think I could do any better than to quote Ephesians 4:32  “Be kind to one another, tender-hearted, forgiving one another, as God in Christ forgave you.” 

Below are some quotes I found on the net baout forgiveness that I particularly liked.  Hope you enjoy them.

It’s said in Hollywood that you should always forgive your enemies – because you never know when you’ll have to work with them. Lana Turner.

Mistakes are always forgivable, if one has the courage to admit them. Bruce Lee

It is very easy to forgive others their mistakes; it takes more grit and gumption to forgive them for having witnessed your own. Jessamyn West

It takes one person to forgive, it takes two people to be reunited. Lewis B. Smedes

Forgiveness is the remission of sins. For it is by this that what has been lost, and was found, is saved from being lost again. Saint Augustine

Forgiveness is the answer to the child’s dream of a miracle by which what is broken is made whole again, what is soiled is made clean again. Dag Hammarskjold

Forgiveness is like faith. You have to keep reviving it. Mason Cooley

Never forget the three powerful resources you always have available to you: love, prayer, and forgiveness. H. Jackson Brown, Jr.

 A mistake is always forgivable, rarely excusable and always unacceptable. Robert Fripp

 Genuine forgiveness does not deny anger but faces it head-on. Alice Duer Miller

To be social is to be forgiving. Robert Frost

There is no love without forgiveness, and there is no forgiveness without love.” Bryant H. McGill.

Forgiveness is the giving, and so the receiving, of life. George MacDonald

Forgiveness is the final form of love. Reinhold Niebuhr

It is easier to forgive an enemy than to forgive a friend. William Blake

The practice of forgiveness is our most important contribution to the healing of the world. Marianne Williamson