Seeing the Heart…and forgiving anyway
Sometimes the best way to cover the ground that lies up ahead is to let go of the miles behind you. You’ve heard the cliché, “Just let it go.” Yeah, I have, too. And as much as I hate to admit it…I think they are right.
Forgiveness and bitterness, freedom and being paralyzed by the terrors of this life aren’t always as far from one another as they might feel. Truth. I am finding that the difference between which camp in which my feet reside often has more to do with where I am choosing to stand than it does the circumstances themselves.
There is a man whose story in the gospel has always captured my attention. He was paralyzed, unable to walk on his own. Frozen in the spaces he found himself in. Unable to move. Unable to gain any ground on his own.
This poor man, however, had people who were willing to bring him to Jesus. They still had hope for his future, even if, perhaps, he did not. And though I love that his friends were willing to go to crazy lengths to get him where he needed to be (see Mark 2), what impacts me far greater is the clarity that the Son of God had for his life and what this man ultimately needed most.
Jesus saw his heart. He knew that what paralyzed this man more than his body’s lack of ability to move was his heart’s inability to melt.
And as Jesus spoke into the hushed room, His words surprised everyone who heard them…
“…He said to the paralyzed man, “Son, your sins are forgiven.’”
Jesus always sees beyond the needs that scream and wail and leans in to the deeper ones that whisper. He knew (like He always does) that you can change the trajectory of a person’s life by changing their heart. He looked not at his circumstances, but at his heart. He didn’t blame. He didn’t explain.
He gave him what he needed most.
You see, Jesus had a grander vision for this man’s life. He saw the man, saw the hope glistening in the eyes of his comrades, and then told him his sins were forgiven.
Forgiveness always changes lives. Always.
And in that simple, yet profound word, He lifted this man’s eyes from the dirt and the struggle. The bitterness and the grief of all the brokenness he had endured, years of feeling left out, left behind…forgotten, disillusioned, frustrated…melted alongside the hardness of his heart.
Though the scripture doesn’t specify the man’s response or the look on his face when Jesus declared this beautiful gift over him, but I imagine him slowly lifting his downcast eyes to meet the kindness in Jesus’ face. Perhaps a flicker of his brow as he considered those words and what they meant for him personally.
Later, as Jesus deals with the skepticism in the crowd, He also tells the man…
“‘I tell you, get up, take your mat and go home.” 12 He got up, took his mat and walked out in full view of them all.”
This man, finally free from all that weighed down, “got up, took his mat and walked out in full view of them all.” I love it! This paralyzed man heard the words of forgiveness, the free gift, that was offered to him. And then he got up and “walked out” to a redeemed future that now lay open before him.
The question that burns on my heart today is what is it that is paralyzing you from walking out into the good plans and purposes that Jesus has for you today? Is there hurt, rejection, fear, disappointment that just won’t let go of your arms and legs so you can run into the freedom that already belongs to you?
Beloved, if you know Jesus as your Lord and Savior, He has spoken these same beautiful words over you, too…
“Your sins are forgiven.”
All that is left for you to do is lift up your eyes and believe it, sweet friends. Then get on up and go home…to all the incredible spaces that freedom, healing, and forgiveness afford.
The song I want to share with you today is from the band Consumed by Fire, and is entitled, “Giving Over.” It talks about the power of opening those clenched fists of unforgiveness – for yourself and for others – and giving all of it over to the One who is Healer. Enjoy.
With joy for the journey,