The Father’s Forgiveness
Tuesday, March 03, 2015
Numbers 14:19 – 20 19In accordance with your great love, forgive the sin of these people, just as you have pardoned them from the time they left Egypt until now.” 20The LORD replied, “I have forgiven them, as you asked.”
There’s a story of a father in Spain and his teenage son who had a relationship that had become strained. So the son ran away from home and fell into a life of sin. His father, however, began a journey in search of his rebellious son. Finally, in Madrid, in a last desperate effort to find him, the father put an ad in the newspaper. The ad read: “Dear Paco, meet me in front of the newspaper office at noon. All is forgiven. I love you. Your father.” The next day at noon in front of the newspaper office 800 “Pacos” showed up. They were all seeking forgiveness and love from their fathers.
Each of us is a Paco. We have rebelled against God. We are afraid of the consequences of our sin, so we try to hide ourselves and run away so we will not be found out.
Following the first sin ever in the Garden of Eden, Adam and Eve tried to hide themselves from God. They knew their relationship with their Creator was broken. They knew their guilt and felt its shame.
God came looking for them. He called out to them. “Where are you?” Now think about this. Almighty, Eternal, All-knowing God knew where they were. His question was not a fact-finding one. God’s question was an offer of forgiveness and restoration. The humans heard it with fear, but God was providing them an opportunity to respond in faith.
When the Father extends His arms of love in an act of forgiveness, we can run to Him in faith rather than run away from Him in fear. Even though the consequences of our sin may remain, the restoration of our love relationship with the Father completely overshadows any of the pain of our sin.
The human consequences of Adam and Eve’s sin were permanent, but the Father covered all of their shame and guilt with His sacrifice. His offer of forgiveness is so magnificent because the restoration of relationship with the Father far exceeds in value any of the lingering effects of our sin.
Imagine the joy you can bring to another person’s life if you were to see them the same way. They are suffering in their sin. They need to be forgiven. They need to know that someone will love them even while they are suffering the consequences of their sin.
Years ago I had a young man in my office who confessed to me that he has been stealing from local stores. He even stole a larger item from outside a business and dragged it behind his car to his back yard. He wanted to know what to do. I told him that he must immediately go and confess in person to the people from whom he had stolen and return the merchandise. He was scared. He knew that he could be arrested and charged with theft. He knew it meant paying restitution and possible jail time.
As we talked, I led him to understand that the pain of the guilt he would carry by not confessing would be much more severe than the pain of the court system. He also began to understand that his greatest need was to know that he and Jesus were in right relationship, and if that were true then nothing could separate him from the Love of God. He agreed that he wanted the love of the Father more than the stuff, and more than his image and reputation. He has confessed and faces stiff fines and jail time, but he is learning that the love of God is far more satisfying than what the world can offer.
As a part of our conversation, I promised him that I would go through this with him, and that nothing he has done could stop me from loving him and serving him. That was a key turning point. Even though he had not sinned against me personally, I was still tempted to separate myself from him until he got his act together. The Holy Spirit showed me that what he needed was someone to walk with him while he got his act together.
Maybe that’s what God is showing you also. Have you separated yourself from someone because of their sin when God may be calling you to forgive them and walk with them through the restoration process? Sure that takes time and energy, and it’s hard work that may not result in anything but more pain. But remember the cost of our forgiveness.
Go looking for that person. Call out to them as God calls out to you – not in a spirit of judgment that produces fear, but in a spirit of grace that offers forgiveness.