the freshness of forgiveness

'first snowfall'

During the night, another dusting of snow freshens the ground and traces barren branches with clean white flakes.  Old paths are covered, folded into mounds rising and falling in unexpected places where winds have blown, changing much while we have slept.  Beyond our control, innumerable unique frozen crystals have fallen, layer upon layer, grace upon grace, to meet us in the morning with beauty and new beginnings, graceful and gratefully forgiving of the grey brown patches of soiled snow and scattering of broken twigs so visible the night before.

Assessing the day just passed, we may have lain down to sleep at night with wintry weather sifting round the dwellings our souls as we wondered how entrenched positions of divide could ever change, how certain events which have left tracks of resentments and hurt could ever be erased, how hope-filled vision might exchange the tired rut of sameness walked on well worn paths which no longer lead to life.

“Answer me when I call, O God of my righteousness!  You have given me relief when I was in distress.  Be gracious to me and hear my prayer!  O men, how long shall my honor be turned to shame?  How long will you love vain words and seek after lies?  But know that the LORD has set apart the godly for himself; the LORD hears when I call to him.  Be angry, and do not sin; ponder in your own hearts on your beds, and be silent.  Offer right sacrifices, and put your trust in the LORD.”  (Psalm 4:1-5)

We close our eyes and see where silted tracks of less than perfect track records within ourselves and those around us mar a landscape once so full of promise and expectant dreams to be the people we are meant to be as those who name the name of Christ, those who’ve known the snow white blanket of Christ’s mercy covering our crimson stains.

Yet truth remains.  Strained relationships often fleck the holy ground of unity with unsightly words, words which fail to make amends and leave peace unheard amidst debris of brokenness.  The cold unrest of swirling egos show what we must do to choose the dress of holiness and reconciling love prepared as a bride ready for our groom.  As he is slow to anger and abounding in a glorious pure and steady love, we can choose to let the built up rifts drift away, not taking them to bed but letting forgiveness rise in our hearts to begin afresh instead.

‘Love of God which covers a multitude of sin, work within us through the watches of the night to do in us what only you can do.’

We call to him again believing that he sends his peace with power to change the shape of hearts throughout the night of darkened days.  In movements of his Spirit Wind, he intervenes, redeems, makes us clean in Christ to rest in peace.  He clothes us in white garments of his love to love in fullness til we see him face to face in that new day when all will be made new.   And so, we position ourselves through surrendered choice to relieve the burdens of others … and he falls gently on our souls to seal his reconciling grace along the intermingled branches of those with whom we live.

“In peace I will both lie down and sleep; for you alone, O LORD, make me dwell in safety.” (Psalm 4:8)

May we awake to fresh displays of his mercies, new every morning, having fallen on our souls far beyond our control during the night of our questions and quest for spiritual growth to walk in new ways  …   washed in his love …  covered with the new possibilities of hope forgiveness brings in each passing day.

“Lord, freshen the ground of icy resistance to help us come clean with honest assessments of our need for your grace within ourselves and within the situations and relationships you call us to serve.  Cover us with a blanket of forgiving love given, received, and charting fresh courses in the days ahead.  Make a new path in the snowfall of your gracious work with clear footprints so we will follow only you as we exercise the leadership you have given, forgiving others as you have forgiven us, displaying a peace that passes all understanding and gives complete rest in you.

Holy Spirit, for each dear servant chilled to the bone in cross drafts of unforgiveness and the sleeplessness to peace that brings, shivering in shame or shaking in fear to let it go, warm hearts to fall trustingly as a child at sleep into the depths of your suffering love poured out for us in Christ who, in the nighttime of his anguish prayed the prayer, ‘Father forgive them, for they know not what they do.’   Let peace, gentle peace dust us every day with your unending love. Amen.”

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