Forgive Us Our Debts as We Forgive Our Debtors
The following is a chapel message a friend of mine from seminary gave at a recent prayer service. What follows is a simple, yet poignant conversation between her and the Lord about forgiving others or, rather, lack thereof. This is a conversation I know many of us (myself include) have had in our lifetimes. May we be able to forgive others as we have been forgiven in Jesus Christ...
I woke up 15 minutes late already and was out too late last night writing a paper. I stumble half blind into my kitchen, the blurry can of Lavazza coffee feels familiar to me and I grab the scoop and throw out the old filter, full of yesterday’s rejuvenation grounds.
I hit the brew button, not because I can see it, but because this is my tradition.
I trip over the cat and stumble into the bathroom. I turn the hot knob up on the shower and while waiting for it to warm up I rehearse all the things I have to do today. Stop at the store before class—first Sam’s for the event at work that I need to buy coffee and creamer for then to Trader Joe’s to get lunch for my day and a few things for a party at my house in a few days. Then I have to drive to campus—have two classes today. The first class I’m trying to keep up with the other class I’m already a book behind. Maybe I can read a bit in between classes. Maybe I need a nap already.
I take my shower, purifying myself. I ritually put in my contacts—finally I can really see. Brush my hair, blow-dry, brush my teeth and make my face look as much like the one on the front of the magazine staring at me.
I pick my clothes and put extra pair of tights on—it’s been so cold. Extra pair of socks for good measure. Zip up the boots. Zip the coat. And I’m off to the races.
I do it all without acknowledging you. Grab my keys and I’m out the door.
I leave with my hands in my pockets because who knows where my gloves are. St. Benedict said I should say, “our hands in our pockets” – Everything comes from you O Lord – I forget.
I make it to the Sam’s parking lot. Why does that person drive like that. BEEP. I think of a few choice words for the driver as he’s about to back into me. Why did that lady cut me off on my way inside the store and then slow down in front of me. Ugh. Doesn’t she know there is a world out there going on. My dead turtle moves faster than her.
Bright florescent lights hit my eyes as I flash the greeter at Sam’s my membership card. She’s not even paying attention. Why do they pay people to do jobs that they don’t even do. I make my shoes make noise so the slow walker in front of me that’s blocking the whole entrance hears me and moves out of my way.
Slow down Jamie, not everyone walks as fast as you.
I have sinned a hundred times already today and I haven’t even opened my mouth yet.
I make my way past the obstacle course of parked oversized-carts and get the coffee. I make my way to the dairy section and choose from the plethora of creamers. Land O’ Lakes. That sounds like a nice place.
And it’s sprint to the cash registers while I balance the coffee like a new born baby against my chest and hold the creamer in my hands.
I pay and make my way to the coffee grinder. But first I must move 5 mattresses that are on load carts in order to get to the grinder. I walk to the service desk to get a person’s attention to help.
“Excuse me?” She heard me but continues talking to her friends. “Excuse me ma’am?” She turns around holds her index finger up letting me know she’d help me when it’s convenient.
I wait… I move the heavy mattresses by myself while other employees watch. I have horrible ideas in my heart. I have mattress-moving self-righteousness flying out from every inch of my being.
I walk over to the service desk to get tape because the bag never reseals the right way. The service desk has a line a mile long and all the workers are just talking each other still. No one is being serviced. I see the tape there on the desk—I grab it and walk the 15 feet to the grinder. I grind my coffee and wait for the grounds to pour into the bag. I finish three of the bags and tape it up… I’m waiting for my 4th and 5th bag to finish.
One of the service desk workers finally is aware of my existence, now that I’ve taken the scotch tape. She walks over, looks at me and says, “You can walk back and forth from the grinder to the desk to get your tape. We need this to stay put.” I think of words for her. I look at her, my eyes gazing into hers tearing her down while I purse my lips and contort my face to let her know I think I’m better than her.
I eventually make it to the Trader Joe’s parking lot in Brentwood and a whole host of new unspeakable words come mind. Am I the only wise driver put on this earth? Will anyone be considerate?
In my hurry I forget I am constantly bumping into your image. As I drive, every car around me is being driven by an image bearer. When I’m in line, I am surrounded by image bearers all waiting to buy their toilet paper and hot dogs. How can I be inconvenienced by this—by THEM? I am one of them.
I am one coffee buying, line standing, old car driving, busy and tired image of God that has been forgiven SO much. I have presumed upon your grace and walk about as if the LORD of Lords owes ME something.
From the evil thoughts that entered my head that were entertained this morning to the way I interacted with others: will you help me enter wholly into your forgiveness so that I may forgive as freely, as astonishing as you have forgiven me? Help me never to see your image as an inconvenience and help me, even when truly wronged to forgive as you have forgiven me.