Posts Tagged ‘forgetfulness’

moving onThe reunion story between Jacob and Esau is the Old Testament way of foreshadowing grace to come. Esau had every right to resent Jacob and even hate him for Jacob’s deceptions. Instead, he extended unmerited grace. Time did the first part of the healing (over twenty years) and the two brothers did the rest. They chose to let go of the past.

Genesis 33:1a, 3-4
Jacob looked up and there was Esau, coming with his four hundred men . . . He himself went on ahead and bowed down to the ground seven times as he approached his brother. But Esau ran to meet Jacob and embraced him; he threw his arms around his neck and kissed him. And they wept.

They didn’t talk about the past, but they both knew what had happened between them. Jacob poured out his plea through the giving of very generous gifts (220 goats, 230 sheep, 30 camels plus their young, 50 cows and bulls, and 30 donkeys). Then, when he himself came forward, he bowed down seven times (and his children likewise). This gesture in this time and culture indicated that the other person was superior. By bowing seven times, Jacob was accepting the position of vassal to Esau. (See discussion by Dr. Claude Mariottini)

Instead, like the story of the prodigal son, Esau greets his brother warmly with an embrace. We do not know if this change of heart was from the beginning when he first heard of Jacob’s coming or if Esau’s heart was touched by the gifts and Jacob’s obeisance. Nonetheless, their embrace was a willingness on Esau’s part to start over. To let go of the vows for revenge and deceptions.

But Jacob does an interesting thing. Despite Esau’s offer to accompany Jacob or leave additional men, Jacob demurs. I see this as wisdom. Their unspoken agreement is tenuous at best. It’s one thing to initiate peace but another to live it. By keeping their households apart (Jacob buys land near Shechem), they can have their understanding without putting themselves at close proximity where old habits and memories could peck away at their resolve to live amiably.

In the same way should we remember this wisdom. When we forgive, especially in those most difficult cases (abuse, brokenness, and a bevy of other human sorrows), we should not expect the heart to follow quickly. Instead, we must give space and time and new patterns to develop.

I can choose to relinquish my losses from the past, but I must still be wise in building my future.

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Hard to believe: but we do forget the good things and miracles. Paul laments about the Corinthians, Moses about the Israelites, and Lord knows what head shaking is going on in heaven about me. Haven’t there been miracles and signs & wonders in my life too?

II Corinthians 12:11
Now I have been [speaking like] a fool! But you forced me to it, for I ought to have been [saved the necessity and] commended by you. For I have not fallen short one bit or proved myself at all inferior to those superlative [false] apostles [of yours], even if I am nothing (a nobody).

For awhile, after something wonderful has happened, we talk about it and share the story and give praises to God who touched our 3-D world with a word and changed everything in an instant. For a very brief season, we are amazed and astounded. Wow! God did that? God healed me. God saved me from being hurt in a car accident. God brought my children back. God provided food, clothing, shelter, and a job, etc.

But we humans, and I know how human I am . . . we tend ask, “what have you done for me lately?”

I stand convicted of this.

As I read through Paul’s dealings with the Corinthian church, I can hear his deep frustration and hurt.

He’s like a mother who is astounded at her beloved child for whom she did everything, and yet, here is the kid in the Detention Center or pregnant or in the hospital for a drug overdose or laid out in a morgue. How could they forget our love? Why didn’t it matter?

Paul gave and gave of himself but still, it was not enough to sustain the faith over the distance. Jesus gave and gave too. And yet, people didn’t get the message at the root of their beings either.

The parable of the sower [Matthew 13:1-23] is about us too. More of us are the rocky path, the shallow soil and the thorn patch than good rich soil. We hear the truth, we see the truth, but we don’t remember.

Forgive me Lord. Keep me mindful today. Keep me mindful of your works and your word. Keep me mindful of you.

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I Corinthians 13:4b-6
. . . It [love] does not envy, it does not boast, it is not proud. It is not rude, it is not self-seeking, it is not easily angered, it keeps no record of wrongs. Love does not delight in evil but rejoices with the truth.

If love is not these things, perhaps it’s a good idea for me to consider the antonyms. I can’t really “do” or “practice” a “NOT.” So I looked them up.

The opposite of the verb envy is to be confident or contented, to be generous and giving. Do I reflect love in this way? Is my love toward others unwavering and confident. Am I content with the love I have as well as the love I can give. Interesting though, these are actually “states of being.” I cannot practice contentment and confidence, not really. I can turn a corner and choose. And generosity comes from within. Generous giving comes from confidence and contentment. So, perhaps, “not envying” what others have is indeed the first step toward contentment.

The opposite of boasting is to be modest, quiet, and deprecating (playing down what one has). It’s not that I don’t have the “stuff” or the relationships or the love or the ability, it’s that I don’t brag about what I have. This brings to mind the “ugly American” who travels with a chip on his/her shoulder, expecting service up to certain standards. It’s an “I deserve” attitude. All of those cliches like “keeping up with the Joneses” are counter to the basics of not boasting. Our of pride in the accomplishments of our children, we often provide litany after litany of their successes, their grades, their jobs, their scores.

The opposite of rudeness is kindness, politeness, and respect. This I can practice, if I choose to do so. The more kindness I show, the more politeness, the more respect, the less rude I will seem. Politeness has gone out of favor. Our children do not recognize politeness as necessarily important. But do we realize that love requires this of us? If I love my children, I should also be kind, polite and respect them for who they are in each stage of life. It is my job to model that.

The opposite of self-seeking is similar to the opposite of envy — it’s giving, benevolent, and caring; moral and ethical. This is the essence of mindfulness of “other.” These are the traits of the humble. Really, it reminds of stepping out of costume, the selfish costume, and showing the tender center within. It’s casting off the habit of selfishness.

The opposite of anger is joy, pleasantness, calm and being soothing. I cannot practice joy, it’s a result, but I can be pleasant instead of not, I can look for my inner calm and bring it to the surface, I can be soothing to the one who is hurting. I cannot be angry if I am doing any of these other things. There is no longer room for anger.

The opposite of “not keeping a record of wrongs” must be forgetfulness, choosing to “not recall” or dismiss the offense. And of course, forgiveness. They go hand in hand.

The last antonym for “not delighting in evil” is provided for us and is a surprise: rejoicing in truth. I would have thought it would be delighting in “good,” but instead, Paul chooses truth as the powerhouse to overcome evil. I can indeed practice truth and with it, I will be able to walk away from evil and lies.

The opposite of pride is humility. And each one of these opposites is embraced in this one word. Oh Lord, I am so far. Give me courage to embrace and exercise those aspects of love that will help me evolve truth in humility.

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