Recently I’ve read Rich in Years: Finding Peace and Purpose in a Long Life, by Johann Christoph Arnold. It’s a Plough Publishing book, and I recommend it and anything published by Plough, including the beautiful and thoughtful quarterly magazine of the same name.
I’ve been thinking about this gift of having a long life, and learning to embrace it. I have friendships more than a half century old, I’ve been able to make some music longer than that, and as I get older my faith seems deeper, and perhaps more certain — if you can say that faith is certain –or maybe it is richer. I’m learning to seek more peace.
In the sixth chapter of Hosea the prophet wrote: For with hearts like an oven they approach their intrigue; all night their anger smolders; in the morning it blazes like a flaming fire. All of them are hot as an oven, and they devour their rulers. All their kings have fallen, and none of them calls upon me. (Hosea 6:5-7)
Those images: hearts like an oven, smoldering anger — most of us know what this is like. Most of us are too familiar with what it is like to be so angry, so chronically resentful that there is always a smoldering fire, always a heart like an oven ready to heat.
True for you? It’s been true for me, way too true and for way too long. In the Big Book of Alcoholics Anonymous, on page 66 we can read: It is plain that a life which includes deep resentment leads only to futility and unhappiness. To the precise extent that we permit these, do we squander the hours that might have been worthwhile…we found that it is fatal. For when harboring such feelings we shut ourselves off from the sunlight of the Spirit.
How much of my time, of my years, have I squandered, wallowing in resentments and endless replays of “what shudda happened!” How much time — maybe enough time.
In Rich in Years the point is beautifully made to reconcile our lives. Make peace with others, make peace with yourself, make peace with God. Forgive…easy to do, impossible to do, essential to do if we want a life of freedom.
In forgiveness we become free,from that bondage of resentment. Right now, this is the life we have. Christ came to announce the coming of the kingdom of God, salvation by the forgiveness of sin — we gain our lives by confessing the hurts we’ve held on to, the “cherished resentments” we have so valued, and by offering and receiving forgiveness. Try it today. And try again tomorrow. And the next day. And when you think you fail remember this: for whenever our heart condemns us, God is greater than our heart, and he knows everything… (I John 3:20)
Give a gift worth giving this Christmas. Give the gift of forgiveness to that special person…and to you.
Thank You for sharing this. This was definitely a powerful message. Merry Christmas Frank and hug Brenda for me. So grateful for you. You have definitely taught me through the years how to be a better Christian.
God bless you Margy, and Merry Christmas to you and Ed. Thank you for your kindness!
One of the hardest things to do I think is to truly forgive. How amazing is it that God forgives s?
Amen, Gwen, Amen!