Monday, January 22, 2007

Seventy Times Seven

In our first year of marriage, when Steve was still in law school and I was working 2nd and 3rd shift as a nurse, we bought a brand new Saturn. We were proud of that car for about two weeks, and during those first couple of weeks, it seemed like every time I turned my head I saw a Saturn.

"Wow, where did all these Saturns come from? Did everyone buy a Saturn in the past two weeks?"

Of course not. I was just recognizing the Saturns that were already there. A top of mind awareness kind of thing.

These past weeks, the issue of forgiveness has been at the top of my mind.

It started when Chloe asked me, "Mom, what's 70 times 7?"

"140. Wait, I mean 490." (Never was a numbers person). "Where did you hear that?"

"In the Bible."

Thought so. And so I explained to Chloe that 70 times 7 was Jesus' way of saying that because we have been perfectly forgiven by God, we can and should forgive others--as often as it takes.

That night, Steve came back from a meeting where a church leader asked Tim Keller, the pastor of Redeemer, how to deal with team members who were not complying with whatever program requirements.
"I'll tell you the first thing you do," he said. "The first thing you do is forgive them."

That's not what I was expecting him to say. But it's right on.

After that, I ran across a quote from Lewis Smedes, a reformed theologian. "The first and often only person to be healed by forgiveness is the person who does the forgiveness."

And Philip Yancy, "The only thing harder than forgiveness is the alternative."

Then there are all the times that I've been able to practice forgiveness and be forgiven, as the weather turns colder and the apartment seems to shrink and we all step on each other (literally and figuratively) way too often.

It's easy for me to think that when I forgive, I am benevolent and kind, bestowing the gift of gracious pardon onto the person who is so much more sinful and wrong than I; that I forgive for their benefit.

I thank God that he forgives me for that.


Lorraine said...


Anonymous said...

You always seem to be so right on! Thanks for sharing your experiences. Reading them helps me to be more aware in my own life. I thank you for that. :)
Kristi in South Bend