You’ve heard of #100HappyDays? Well, I stole the idea and adapted to fit my blogging schedule.
Every day is filled with reasons to be thankful. And yet the majority of my day isn’t spent being thankful. That’s got to change. God sent his son to save me - HUGE reason to always be thankful. And I’ve been freed to live a new life through Christ, released from fear, doubt, shame and self-reliance, equipped with love to serve others and blessed with all kinds of daily tasks and jobs to express my love. And that’s just the big stuff.
This is #100ThankfulWeeks to praise Him. I’m sharing one simple thing I’m thankful for each week. Because there can never be to much thankfulness.
Week 36: Forgiveness
There’s a story in the Bible about a woman who weeps over Jesus’ feet, washes his feet with her own tears, dries them with her own hair and breaks a crazy-expensive jar of perfume over his feet. From the moment Jesus enters the building until the moment he finally addresses her, she doesn’t leave his feet.
In Luke’s gospel, she is known to be a woman who has lived an obviously sinful life. John’s gospel names the woman as Mary, the sister of Lazarus, whom Jesus raised from the dead. None of the gospels tell us why she was crying. In fact, the gospel writers don’t record any words from the woman during these moments with Jesus.
Yet at least some of the others who are present with Jesus, watching the woman weep and kiss Jesus’ feet, are indignant with her behavior. The host of the meal secretly and silently clucks his tongue at Jesus’ willingness to be touched by a woman of ill-repute. Even Jesus’ disciples antagonize the woman, accusing her of excessive waste.
I don’t know why the woman was crying because the writers never say, but I can imagine. The same reason I cry: because I’m ashamed of my life, because I don’t deserve forgiveness, because I desperately need help. Like the woman, I know there’s one person who can help me and despite everything I’ve done, has already helped me. He loves me. Despite it all, he still loves me. Even though I’m a disgusting sinner, he loves me so much he’s forgiven me.
I don’t know how the woman responded to the disapproving looks, clucking tongues and accusations from the others present. But know how I feel. Small, disgusting, ashamed, worthless, defenseless, scared and desperate. Desperately clinging to hope despite all the doubts. What if all my accusers are right and Jesus won’t forgive me? What if I’ve made too many mistakes, turned away too many times? What if turning back to him isn’t enough? What if I’ve misunderstood and he turns me away?
And I would be crying harder. Hoping. Clinging to him and not daring to look up from his feet. I know I’d deserve it if he pulled away and left me with a broken jar of perfume in a crowd of accusers. Because that’s what I deserve and even tears won’t wipe out what I’ve done.
But Jesus doesn’t pull away. In all of the gospels, Jesus instead defends the woman’s actions and faith. He silences his host and his disciples and commends her faith and extravagant demonstration of love for him. In Luke’s gospel, Jesus shares a parable with his host and concludes with a simple fact: “I tell you, her many sins have been forgiven - as her great love has shown. But whoever has been forgiven little love little.” Then Jesus turns to the woman and confirms his love: “Your sins are forgiven.”
I don’t know what the woman did next, but I know I would have cried harder. Not out of sadness, but out of joy and happiness and gratitude. Out of safety and security, knowing that the only one with the power to save me has declared it complete. He has freed me from my life of sin. He has given me hope. He hasn’t pulled away, he hasn’t joined with my accusers, he hasn’t abandoned me to my doubts and fears.
Forgiveness clears the way for love. Forgiven, it’s possible to feel his love and to trust it. It’s possible to follow him, to clear out the cobwebs and refocus on what his love calls me to be. Forgiveness is incredibly powerful. It’s enough to make anyone weep at the feet of someone who loves them that much. To forgive all the stupid, selfish things. To love them despite it all. I think I know why the woman was crying: tears of gratitude, tears of joy, tears of faith and hope. But most incredibly, tears of love for the one who loved her.
Which is harder - asking for permission or asking for forgiveness? Cause I can never decide.