There’s an interesting and unique dynamic among the people of Israel. A tension that must be lived with on an everyday basis. There’s no escaping this daily reality.
How to live with in grace and live with unimaginably pain filled memories. How to live in freedom and not live in fear. How to look forward and not be afraid to look back.
I’m not an extensive traveler. But in my limited excursions, I can tell you what I have come to observe with my eyes. I’ve seen the unimaginable poverty of Haiti. Exposed to the bleak conditions of India. Experienced the paralyzing despair of the Deep South. Observed the grim wrinkle-laden faces of the post-Communist Eastern Europeans.
Everyone wears their pain. We each just wear it differently.
Then there is Israel. A people and a land who live with the daily awareness that most of the world is against them. Not indifferent towards them. Actually against them. Weapons are trained on them from literally every direction. Simply for being Jews.
In So Cal we live with the possibility of an earthquake on a daily basis. We know that the Big One is coming. We also know it has been over 25 years since the last significant quake hit us. So still knowing that the possibility exists, we live as though it hasn’t happened. And won’t happen again.
But earthquakes don’t have faces.
Today, we met a family who saw the face of terror.
The Ortiz family. Their son opened a package on The Jewish holiday of Purim. A time of gift-giving. This ‘gift’ was a bomb that cut through his entire body. By the grace of God, he is alive and living a somewhat regular life, attending college in New York. But how do you go on living, knowing the horrific combination of pain, anger and fear that lives in your heart!
How do you get out of bed? How do you laugh again, knowing that there are people who want you to die? How do you give gifts again, living with the memories of your son’s blood on your walls? How do love again, when the resentment and anger rise with you in the morning?
These were the questions we had for our new friends. Their answer I will never forget. It may be the most important reason for my coming to Israel this year:
Forgiveness freed the hands of God
While I know and believe in a Sovereign God, I found this answer to be compelling on so many levels. Because the essence of the Christian faith is predicated on God’s unmerited forgiveness to His incredibly rebellious creation. Once forgiven by God, the highest form of love by the forgiven is indeed forgiveness. It may be the most certain and powerful expression by those who have come to understand our own depravity in the face of God’s unwavering offer of grace to those who can comprehend even a small fraction of our unworthiness of such kindness.
Forgiveness frees the hand of God
It allows the flow of grace to continue unobstructed.
It allows the expression of the Gospel to have a face.
It allows the recipient to discover the trailhead to the headwaters of continuous refreshing.
It allows the captive to be set free. And remain free.
It is what sets the Christian faith apart from all others.
So today I choose freedom. It’s why Jesus came into this world.
Will you choose it as well?