Falling Short of the Mark: Rivers of Faith, Part 3


Seagulls and the sea

Many times we think we have figured out the things that are troubling us, only to discover how wrong we are.

Faith puts its trust, not in us, but in the One whose comprehension is far above ours! "Trust in the Lord with all your heart and lean not on your own understanding; in all your ways acknowledge him, and he will make your paths straight." (Prov 3:5-6 NIV)

Take for example that poor paralytic. He had tried in vain to understand his situation, but instead of worrying about the "why"s, he decided to put his trust on the One who really could make a difference in his life: "Some men brought to him a paralytic, lying on a mat. When Jesus saw their faith, he said to the paralytic, 'Take heart, son; your sins are forgiven.'" (Matt 9:2 NIV)

Interestingly, this paralytic had a bigger need than healing itself, and Jesus saw directly through him and forgave his sins.

Notice that the paralytic didn't turn back to Jesus and cry: "No, no. You have it wrong! I want to be healed!" He simply accepted Jesus' forgiveness. And while caring for his primary need, Jesus also took care of his secondary one (See verse 6b). Truly healing and forgiveness go hand in hand.

Too often we approach God with the wrong request. Just like that young man who once uttered that petition: "Lord, if I was rich, I could really make a difference in this world. Imagine all the people I could help." Truly, this was not his deepest need.

Much bigger needs, such as a hunger for God, for acceptance, for forgiveness, lurk in the deepest recesses of our hearts. If we don't address these, we will easily fall short of the mark and discontentment will continue to hold us in its grasp.

I have met so many people who wish they could change their past. They realize how they have hurt others, even their loved ones, through their actions. If only they could take this away! They hunger for forgiveness, but they receive indifference instead, and indifference is far worse than anger.

But if we hunger to be forgiven, others must be hungering for our forgiveness as well! They, too, have made wrong choices, and if we could walk in their shoes for even one minute, we wouldn't be able to keep ourselves from forgiving them. They need love and acceptance just like we do!

"Forgive as the Lord forgave you." (Col 3:13 NIV)

We do indeed have a deep longing to be forgiven by others, as well as by God. But let's remember that forgiveness is a matter of faith: We either accept God at His word or we don't.

"If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just and will forgive us our sins and purify us from all unrighteousness." (1 John 1:9 NIV)

Our God is faithful and just and will indeed forgive our trespasses. But we need to believe that what He has promised us is really true.

Forgiving others is also a matter of faith, that can only be done through Jesus Himself, who died in agony on a rugged cross, so that we could experience forgiveness (See John 15:13)!

I was raised with a cousin who was like a sister to me. We shared every toy we had with one another, and as we grew older, we shared all of our joys and fears.

One day, all of this changed. It was the day her father died. On that day, she turned against both me and my mother (her aunt), kicking us completely out of her life. And we are still trying to figure out why!

I could have become angry at her for her unjust actions. I could have even begun to hate her the way she apparently hates me. But thanks be to God, neither hate nor unforgiveness filled my soul. She is still my little sister after all! Instead I started praying for her even more earnestly. Every time anyone asks me if they can pray for me, I ask them to please pray for my cousin, Frédérique.

Since this time, this eagerness to forgive others has followed me around. We may not always understand the actions of others, for they too, have experienced strenuous circumstances, but at least we can decide to love and forgive them, standing in faith at what Jesus commanded us to do: "Love each other as I have loved you." (John 15:12 NIV)

Looking at it that way, love is really a question of faith!

Rob Chaffart

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