Daily Devotions
 

Hello Good Shepherd!

During these summer months our Daily Devotions will continue with Good Shepherd’s Pastors along with Jen Jarman and Matthew Petersen each taking turns writing them week by week.  The topics and themes will be as varied as the Staff members themselves!  We hope you will check us out each day as you continue your daily Vine Time with God.  Open yourself to what God is saying to you through this writing, and pray that the Spirit will bring forth fruit from your life for the sake of the world. 

Also, as a way to encourage each other, use the comment box at the end of each day’s devotion to leave a thought, a prayer or a reflection of your own.  

Pastor Heidi Johns

Daily Devotion
Pastor Heidi Johns

Daily Devotion

Forgive us our trespasses as we forgive those who trespass against us….

Two stories of forgiveness have helped shape my understanding of the power of this prayer petition.  The first came out of rural Pennsylvania in 2007 when a man walked into an Amish school house and killed five young girls before killing himself.  It was a horrific tragedy that rocked the Amish community.  But almost immediately after it happened, the Amish community came forward with words of forgiveness for what the man had done.  They put their words into action as they collected money to help the widow of the man who enacted such violence against them.  Just a day after their buried their own daughters, several Amish members attended the burial of the killer, and offered their words of comfort to his family.

The second story came in 2015 shortly after Dylan Roof walked into an African American church in Charleston, North Carolina and shot and killed 9 people as they attended Bible study. The families of the slain where allowed to speak directly to Dylan Roof at his first court appearance.  We might expect that they would speak words of anger, resentment or even hate.  Instead, they spoke words of forgiveness to him.

To be honest, I’m not so confident forgiveness would be on my mind if something as tragic happened to people I loved.  I suspect that even the Amish, and the families of the victims in North Carolina weren’t completely at a place of forgiveness when they spoke the words of forgiveness.  What they did, however, from the very beginning, is that they set their intention.  They spoke the words that revealed their intention to not get stuck in bitterness or anger.  They planned to move to forgiveness, healing, grace. 

It’s extraordinary, and it’s what the Lord’s Prayer invites us to do.  Jesus sets up the prayer to flow this way.  First comes God’s forgiveness for us.  Then, in response, comes our forgiveness for others.  Our ability to forgive is anchored in the forgiveness we have already received from God.  If we are honest with ourselves, we know that we also do not deserve the forgiveness that God so quickly and lovingly extends to us.  Receiving that forgiveness hopefully softens our hearts towards those who commit infractions against us.

Hopefully none of us will ever have to forgive the magnitude of pain caused to the Amish community in Pennsylvania or the church community in North Carolina.  But perhaps their intention towards forgiveness, along with this petition from the Lord’s prayer will invite us to set our own hearts towards the intention of forgiving those who have hurt us.  It is a process that is paved with prayer.  May God give us the strength to start the journey.

Reflection: When have you experienced forgiveness from another when you have felt undeserving?  Is there a journey of forgiveness and healing that God is inviting you to begin?
 

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