The air was bone-chillingly cold and the wind might have bitten right through your knit hat, had you stepped outside. The winter season had stretched long and dark across West Michigan and Stephanie and I were beginning to sense the cabin fever syndrome setting in around our little bungalow.
Go outside and play? Well, it just was too bitterly cold today. And as any parent might expect, a direct symptom of cabin fever among small children is a varied assortment of antics that usually result in some kind of injury.
And today, our five-year-old son, Hudson (the usual creator and instigator of crazy and injurious antics), decided to try a little stunt: throw cars at his little sister’s head or better yet, begin a gallant sword fight against the young fair maiden who has no shield or sword with which to defend herself. With one bonk on the head and a well-timed sword swipe on the arm, our two-year-old girlie, Everlynn, had finally endured quite enough.
With a loud wail and a waterfall of tears, our daughter, who now lay crumpled up on the living room floor, quickly summoned Stephanie and me from the kitchen.
“Hudsy…ahuh…Hudson hit – he hit me!” sobbed Everlynn.
The offending knight-in-shining-armor had conveniently (and quite rapidly) darted across the room to his favorite hiding place behind a large stuffed armchair.
“Hudson, did you hit your sister?” we asked.
“No… I mean yes, yeah I hit Everlynn,” Hudson remarked with a pouty lower lip.
Stephanie leaned down to look our little guy in the eyes, “Hudson, you need to ask Everlynn for forgiveness and you need to ask Mommy and Papa for forgiveness, too, because you have disobeyed us by hurting your sister.
Hudson hemmed and hawed, desperately trying to change the subject. But finally the words slowly trickled out of his mouth with a great sigh, “I’mmmm soorrry, Everlynn, will you forgive me?” Our spunky little daughter gleefully soaked up his sign of remorse and gave Hudson a big hug around the neck.
Hudson then turned to look up at us with his glassy, puppy-dog eyes that were now brimming with tears and squeaked, “Mommy, Papa, will you forgive me for hurting Everlynn?
Stephanie and I immediately reached down to cover our munchkin in warm, reassuring hugs, and said, “Yes, Hudson, we forgive you. Thank you so much for apologizing to Everlynn. We love you so, so much.”
You could see a cheeky smile surprise his tears as they rolled down his face. Hudson reached out for another hug and wiped his tears away on my shoulder.
“I love you, Papa.”
“I love you, too, Hudson.”
Before Hudson ever confessed to hurting his sister we already knew what he had done and before he requested our forgiveness we had already forgiven him. The forgiveness was and is always and already present in our hearts for him. Why? Because he is our son and we love him! He is ours and we are his.
Our doctrine of salvation states that we believe God has already forgiven us of our sins: past, present, and future, through the completed work of Jesus Christ (cf. Col. 2:13; Psa. 103:12). Yet so often we think and act as if we need to earn his forgiveness – as if His love is conditioned by our words and actions. We so easily get caught into the trap of believing that God loves us more or less on the basis of what we do. And we get very busy performing, rather than growing in the hope of our believing.
But God says, “Therefore there is now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus…” (Romans 8:1)
The apostle Paul boldly declared, “For I am convinced that neither death, nor life, nor angels, nor principalities, nor things present, nor things to come, nor powers, nor height, nor depth, nor any other created thing, will be able to separate us from the love of God, which is in Christ Jesus our Lord.” (Romans 8:38-39)
We wanted to hear Hudson admit to hurting his sister and to request our forgiveness. It’s incredibly important that he learns to recognize his failures and hurtful actions. He needs to admit, confess, repent, and receive mercy. However, the forgiveness was already given from the overflow of our love before he ever mouthed the words, “will you forgive me.”
God draws us to recognize and confess our sins, too. Knowing and expressing the depth of our sin-struggle draws us back to His unending mercy. Turning in humility to God is His Spirit-led path of changing us to becoming more like Jesus Christ.
So we repent.
We fall to our knees in desperate need.
Tears flow as we see our own inadequacy.
But in this Father-son-daughter relationship, His forgiveness is always and already present in His heart for us.
Pastor Milton Vincent wrote, “In justifying me, God declared me innocent of my sins and pronounced me righteous with the very righteousness of Jesus. God also allowed His future and present wrath against me to be completely propitiated by Jesus, who bore it upon Himself while on the cross (1 John 2:2). Consequently, God now has only love, compassion, and deepest affection for me, and this love is without any admixture of wrath whatsoever . . .
When I sin, God’s grace abounds to me all the more as He graciously maintains my justified status as described above (Romans 5:20-21). When I sin, God feels no wrath in His heart against me (1 Thess. 5:9-10; 1 John 2:2). His heart is filled with nothing but love for me, and He longs for me to repent and confess my sins to Him, so that He might show me the gracious and forgiving love that has been in His heart all along. (1 John 1:9).” From A Gospel Primer for Christians: Learning to See the Glories of God’s Love, pg. 62-64.
God is ready and waiting with a never-ending, overflowing forgiveness for His children. And by His grace, we can turn to Him, look up into His glorious and loving face, and let our tears fall upon His shoulders. For those who are in God’s family through believing in Jesus Christ, the forgiveness never runs out. His love never stops.
We are always forgiven. Turn to Him today and receive His love and Life anew.
I highly recommend Milton Vincent’s small yet profound book (quoted above). By purchasing his book through the Amazon link below you will partner with us in meeting the growing technology costs required to maintain www.GraceExposed.org:
Listen to the audio devotional “Always Forgiven” delivered at North Park Baptist Church of Grand Rapids, MI on Sunday evening, 4.6.2014 simply by clicking on the play button below: