This gives us a clear picture that in order to fully forgive, we must let a piece of ourselves die. And what for? Because there is new life on the other side. When a mother nurses her baby, her body will actually take vital nutrients from itself and put them into the babies milk. Now let’s take it all the way to our breath. We need fresh air to live, and that means we must let go of the old air, for we cannot be sustained on that. We need THIS breath for right now.
“Only if you first seek inner forgiveness will your confrontation be temperate, wise, and gracious. Only when you have lost the need to see the other person hurt will you have any chance of actually bringing about change, reconciliation, and healing. You have to submit to the costly suffering and death of forgiveness if there is going to be any resurrection.” – Tim Keller in “Reason for God”.
You may or may not believe in the Bible’s story of Jesus, but allow me to use it as a powerful image of how forgiveness gives new life, even if at a cost. It is as follows: Jesus came with a powerful message of love as opposed to law: of opportunity as opposed to obligation. The extent of Jesus’ claims angered the powerful people of that day and so they had Him killed. As He was dying, He said the words “Father, forgive them for they know not what they do.” What a powerful phrase. Unimaginable forgiveness was given with His last exhaled breath.
So what happened next? The Bible says that three days later there was a resurrection of life. Can you picture what that might look like? That suddenly, on the other side of forgiveness, a gasp of breath as fresh air fills empty lungs, eyes blink open searching for light, and a once broken heart roars back into action. All that had been heaped upon that body, mind and heart was now gone and had been replaced with newness, with freedom, with fresh life. Amid the scars of wrongs done, supernatural healing had taken place and somewhere in the middle of it all was a new breath that birthed a dawn of a new day.
Will you do the work necessary to completely exhale from a place of unimaginable forgiveness so that you can inhale the life-giving aroma of grace and peace? It is not your right, it is your gift to breathe forgiveness, both given and received, until your lungs are full, and to do that again and again.