Fog hangs over the Iowa landscape, covering the cornstalks, hiding the scattered trees, blocking out the sun. A few hours later, no trace of the mist remains. Blue sky stretches to the horizon, spotted with an occasional cottony cloud.
The Bible says that’s what our lives are like: “You do not know what tomorrow will bring. What is your life? For you are a mist that appears for a little time and then vanishes” (James 4:14, ESV)
For the past few weeks, I’ve been writing about the “absolute best” Bucket List. Once you know your destiny, it’s important to invite others to come along. But the fleeting nature of life should drive us to add other items to our list.
One that comes to mind is to leave no unresolved issues with others.
Recently, an unexpected death reminded our extended family of the brevity of life. In the aftermath, brothers and sisters who had not spoken in years reached out to support the mother in her grief. Not all the wounds have healed, and perhaps never will, but the process has begun. The lines of communication are open again.
Why is it so hard to extend forgiveness? Our pride is hurt, our pocketbook may be thinner, our heart may be broken. But in many cases, the other person has been harmed in some way as well.
We must look to the one ultimate example of forgiveness–Jesus Christ, who forgave those who sent him to the cross. Even as he was dying, he asked the Father to forgive them because “they do not know what they are doing.”
And in willingly giving His life on the cross, He offered forgiveness to each one of us–for everything, whether we knew what we were doing or not.
Sometimes, a broken relationship occurs and one person does not realize what he or she has done to cause hurt. Other times, the action was intentional. Either way, Christ’s command is to forgive, “For if you forgive others their trespasses, your heavenly Father will also forgive you” (Matthew 6:14, ESV). When we look at the cross and realize the depth of His forgiveness, how can we not extend a small measure of forgiveness to others?
I know that some scars are so ugly, some wounds so deep, that one cannot just decide to forgive and be healed immediately. Sometimes, it takes years of counseling to recover what was taken away.
What I am saying, though, is that life is too short to allow those wounds to fester. Let Christ put a salve on your wounds, then, with His help, reach out and begin to mend the broken relationship.
For in a few moments, your life–or the other person’s–will end, and it will be too late.