A Touch of Grace – What It Takes to Forgive

Years ago I had a profound experience – a touch of Grace. It left me doubled over and weeping as I marveled at Christ’s love for me. It was a moment so personal and sacred that I am hesitant whenever prompted to share it. I had been listening to one more story of childhood abuse. It was horrific. How can people do such things I thought? And then I thought, how can God allow such evil on earth resulting in unbearable suffering? I felt anger… and the more I thought about it, the angrier I became. It wasn’t long before I found myself enraged at sin and the world around us, but even far more so at God! How could He permit such things to take place? Why would He?

Then it happened… in the midst of my rage, I had a most unusual experience. Acts 2 speaks of a time when young men see visions. It was crystal clear… I was whisked back to the time of Christ’s crucifixion, standing on the hill as Christ was being laid upon the cross. Soldiers began the process of piercing Him with nails. I stood near his side beneath his left arm as it was being stretched across the beam. The soldier stuck the nail into his wrists and swung a couple times to drive it through to the beam. And then…the soldier looked at me and nodded as he held up the hammer. It was clearly a motion for me to grasp the hammer and take a few swings to drive the nail in further. I hesitated a moment – this vision was as real to me at that moment as any other moment in real life – I hesitated, but not long. I remember in my rage taking the hammer, shaking my head up and down affirming his suggestion… and with a surge of energy, striking the nail several times with as much force as possible. As the hammer came down and the nail drove further, a new surge went through me – a felt surge of twisted satisfaction! In the swirling mix of thoughts and emotions, my rage felt satisfied with my having taken it out on God Himself! (As I write this, even now I shudder at the audacity, the insolence, the hell-deserving consequences of my actions!)

But then, the most amazing thing – the touch of Grace! In the midst of my vile satisfaction, I turned my head to look at Him. What I saw and heard next undid me. It touched me profoundly. I saw love in His eyes, and heard grace in His voice as He said to the Father on my behalf: “Father forgive him, for he doesn’t really know what he is doing!” I broke down and wept. Instantly the vision was over. I was still weeping over all of what had happened… how I could have done and felt what I did… but mostly How HE – Jesus – could forgive me as He did and in the midst of my murderous rage!

In Matthew 18, Christ spoke a parable of what He has done for each of us and in turn what he asks each of us to do regarding to forgiveness. A man was forgiven a preposterously astronomical debt – 10,000 talents – the equivalent of one laborer’s wage for 150,000 YEARS! That same man turned around to one of his debtors and refused to forgive him even though the size of that man’s debt was nothing in comparison to what he had been forgiven. This man’s debt would have taken only 100 DAYS of a laborer’s wages!

The reality is – we have all been infinitely and wonderfully forgiven! It is not possible to repay our debt to Jesus Christ! Today, or tomorrow your wife or your husband will stand in the need of forgiveness. What will you do? Will you drive the nail deeper and make the wound greater? Or will you forgive as you have been forgiven? There is a book entitled Hurt People Hurt People. Will you hurt the one who hurt you or will you extend that touch of Grace as it was so extravagantly extended to you?

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