Its funny how things come together from time to time. Seemingly unrelated things taking place that when there is one piece that comes a connection is made between them all. The things in the last 24 hours are – blooming irises at our house, another Rob Bell podcast, and yesterday’s Scripture reading from Luke. Luke 17 begins with a series of short sayings of Jesus, one of which concerns forgiveness.
*If another disciple sins, you must rebuke the offender, and if there is repentance, you must forgive. And if the same person sins against you seven times a day, and turns back to you seven times and says, ‘I repent,’ you must forgive.” The apostles said to the Lord, “Increase our faith!” The Lord replied, “If you had faith the size of a mustard seed, you could say to this mulberry tree, ‘Be uprooted and planted in the sea,’ and it would obey you.*
I was on a walk yesterday while listening to one of Bell’s podcasts, entitled Seeds and Switches, where he focused on the way that we in the West live in a mechanistic switch-based culture today – things are either on or off. You want light? Turn on the light switch. You want something ordered? Next day (or same day) delivery from Amazon. Frustrated with an employee, fire them and hire the next person in line…the list goes on whether its with the food we order and eat, the internet speeds we like to have, and so forth. The Bible, however, is not about switches, but (as Bell put it so well), its about seeds. About seeds that are buried in the ground and take time to grow and develop and mature. You don’t plant a seed and it grows to full size by the next day.
In the podcast, he spoke about the process of forgiveness as one example. The process of forgiving someone for a wrong done to you isn’t a switch that is turned on or off. It can be a lengthy process. As I thought further about what he was saying and about these words from Luke, I imagined forgiveness like the seed that began these irises that are in full bloom around our house. They are perennial plants that grow up into these beauties each year, but they started with seeds. Seeds that were buried deep and took time to take root and eventually grow. And each season, they grow into these beautiful blooms, but eventually they fade away and go fallow once again and the process begins anew.
Forgiveness feels this way – its a process that can take time to forgive. Its a process that often needs to be repeated time and time again. Its a lengthy process. But forgiveness, both for ourselves and for others, can result in the beautiful blooms of wonder and hope and freedom and joy. I give thanks for the ways that Jesus speaks of forgiveness here – its like the seed planted and the bloom that eventually appears year after year.