Can you remember the worst thing you’ve ever done to someone else? No doubt, you’ll have a variety of failures to choose from. For all of us, some days have definitely been better than others.
As I consider my failures, I really wish I could turn back the clock and undo the damage – the cutting words, the destructive actions. But the thing is, once those actions and words are out, I can’t bring them back, any more than I can put whipped cream back in the can. No matter what I do to make amends, those words and actions have done their damage.
So what happens to the damage we’ve inflicted?
I think a part of it remains inside the person and they suffer a little bit of death, and another part gets passed on by them to others. And our legacy of death and destruction goes forward into many more lives.
How do we stop this craziness?
Asking people to forget about it doesn’t work, nor does buying people things (although my wife thinks flowers are a good place to start). The only thing that can change everything is forgiveness. Forgiveness isn’t just putting things back to how they were before the destruction. It’s much more than that. Forgiveness is a positive creative act that somehow absorbs the pain and finds a way to create love and peace out of the carnage. True forgiveness isn’t an exchange of words; rather, it’s a creating of life out of death. At this point we step way out of our league and into miracle territory—the land of God.
The Creator, who has taken some ‘punches’ from us, has not responded in kind. Instead, he responded with earth-shattering forgiveness. And it changes everything. God lives in the forgiven ones and the possibility of a new future opens for us. And not just for us. As we, the forgiven, take the ‘punches’ of others, we find a new power to forgive and bring others within range of the miracle territory. In the land of God the forgiven can now forgive, and lives and legacies are changed forever.
In this land, refugees are always welcome.