When I was a Hospice Chaplain, I was trained to use this list of  5 phrases to help patients deal  with end of life issues,  They are:  (1) “I forgive you”…(2) “Please forgive me”….  (3) “Thank you”….  (4) “I love you”….   (5)  “Goodbye”  The first two are the most important in my experience.   Many times I have seen patients who “hang on to life” and suffer until issues involving them are worked out.

As I am approaching end of life I am paying attention to all of them and feel that I have accomplished most of them.

I’m passing them on to you for two reasons:   (1)  You don’t have to wait until a terminal illness to be aware of the importance of these things in your relationship with loved ones.   If you or a loved one dies suddenly  due to an accident you will not have a chance to express them and deal with them—-so do it now.   (2) Because I feel the first two that deal with forgiveness  are extremely important for everyone.

Forgiveness is the foundation of all relationships.   Without love and the forgiveness that grows out of it enduring  relationships with God or with our fellow human beings is impossible. If we do not feel that God forgives us we cannot forgive ourselves, and if we cannot forgive ourselves it it is impossible to forgive others.

Both Old and New Testaments from Genesis to Revelation are narratives of God’s forgiveness.  Adam and Eve are guilty of eating the fruit of the Knowledge of Good and Evil that God told them they would die for doing.   Yet God, while driving them out of the Garden did not kill them but fashioned clothes to cover their nakedness.   Even Cain, who killed his brother Abel was protected from being slain wherever he went by the “mark of Cain.”  In Revelation the last and final words are that God will create a new heaven and earth and that sorrow and suffering and death shall be no more and in this new Jerusalem where God rules “they will be my people and I will be their God.”  Both Jeremiah and Isaiah contain similar prophetic  words.  (read Jeremiah 31.)

God is a God of love who seeks relationship with God’s creation.   God’s actions prove that to do so there must be forgiveness.    Without  God’s forgiveness for all of us who are broken and lost, there would be no relationship.

If you truly believe God forgives us for the many times when we have done the wrong thing instead of the right thing; that we have hurt rather than healed; that we have lied rather than told the truth; that we have been selfish rather than caring; that we have disregarded our neighbor rather than loved our neighbor; that we have held a grudge instead of forgiving those who hurt us.    If God can forgive you with all the thing only you know about and still love you—-then you can forgive yourself and then be able to forgive others who have hurt you and restore relationships that have turned sour because of grudges held.

Read the parable of the Prodigal Son in Luke 15:11-32.  The son hurt his father deeply when he collected what would be his inheritance before his father died and spent it foolishly.   When the son came back in rags planning to beg to be his father’s hired hand he was welcomed by his father with a new robe and with a feast and dancing after his father ran out onto the road and greeted him with open arms as he was returning home,  This is a picture of what God’s forgiveness is like, Jesus told his disciples.

Part of the prayer that Jesus taught his disciples was:   “Forgive us our debts as we forgive our debtors.    Forgiveness is important.    Ask yourself if there is someone you need to ask for forgiveness or that you hold a grudge against and needs to hear your forgiveness.  Don’t wait—tomorrow may be too late!!





4 responses to “Forgiveness

  1. Elisabeth Wilkinson

    Dear Jim,
    You always asked such great questions in U.S. History. One morning you asked us if we would mind if a black person moved to our town and we all said, “oh sure!” You kept this up until the black person was going to move in next door to us. THE CLASSROOM WAS HUSHED!!!! Some of us talked about the question later feeling somewhat hypocritical and ashamed.

    Anyway I’ve thought about this question: “What would I ask God?” My first thought was that I don’t think I would ask him anything that I haven’t already asked him in my lifetime.
    My second thought(after reading my favorite parable of the Lost Son), is that the son didn’t ask things like, “Dad why didn’t you tell me not to go out into that world by myself?” “Dad, why didn’t you tell me my money was going to run out and that I may end up working minimal jobs?” “Why didn’t you tell me I’d feel alone and lost and ashamed, etc.”
    The Father and the son were so joyous and blessed to see each other there were no questions. I think that’s what I would do, not ask any questions. I admit I ask questions now in prayer and I’m hoping that When I see our Lord face to Face, all will be clear.

    Love you Brother Jim,

    • Elizabeth—It is so good to hear from you and I appreciate your comment which is well stated and shows a great deal of spiritual maturity on your part. I agree with you that when “the old things have passed away” there will be a new thing–the Kingdom of God–=that will replace all of the pains and troubles of this life so that it will no longer be necessary to ask God questions about our former life on earth. Thanks for your comment. Love you! Jim

  2. I absolutely love this: “If we do not feel that God forgives us we cannot forgive ourselves, and if we cannot forgive ourselves it it is impossible to forgive others.” Thank you for sharing this time in your life. You are truly an inspiration ❤ love you dearly.

  3. Pingback: Forgive – and move on – Wrestling with Faith – Dancing with Jesus

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