Forgiveness does not mean condoning what has been done. Forgiving means abandoning your right to pay back the perpetrator in his own coin.
- Desmond Tutu
“Look, Mom,” Gabriel says. “Look at the maple tree!”
My son is supposed to be doing his math, but he’s standing at the window, palms pressed on glass. I can’t help but smile at the wonder in his eyes when he looks over his shoulder.
“What about it, Gabe?” I ask.
“Green buds. I can see them from here. It’s been bare for so long. But now I see green.”
I leave my chair and stand at the window, too. He’s right. The thin, twiggy, winter-bare branches are bearing new buds. It’s a light green. The gentle wash of spring. It’s the color of new life after months of bleak and cold.
“It’s beautiful,” I say.
“It is,” Gabe says. He smiles. His deep dimples, a pass-down from my father, show.
Gabe and I return to our chairs. We both have work to do. But as I give spelling tests and listen to read-alouds, I think about the joy that this new growth brings to those who witness. And I wonder: Does our spiritual growth bring such joy to God?
After a sin struggle, when we allow his strength to break through. New life. When we offer forgiveness over a hurt that’s clouded a heart dark. New life. When we release ourselves from the grip of an idol and relinquish that sacred spot to the Lord. New life. When we open ourselves to his Word, and not only let it settle on our minds and ears, but allow it to press far into the sweet caverns of our spirits. Spiritual growth and new life.
It must be precious for the Lord to stand, looking and observing, in compassion and grace, and appreciate this powerful, simple beauty.
It surely brings joy.
Lord, let me reach for you until I’m rich with fresh growth and life. Amen.
Shawnelle Eliasen and her husband Lonny have been married for twenty-five years. They have five sons and raise their bevy of boys in an old Victorian near the Illinois banks of the Mississippi River. Their sons, Logan, Grant, Samuel, Gabriel, and Isaiah, range in age from twenty-one to six with Shawnelle home teaching the youngest three.
Shawnelle has been writing for six years, contributing regularly to Guideposts magazine, Daily Guideposts devotional and other inspirational publications. She would say that life with her men moves faithfully, on fast forward. But it’s her heart’s desire, her passionate prayer, to see God’s goodness and glory in the fullness of her days. She longs to see Him in the unexpected moments, unexpected places, changing the ordinary to extraordinary and bringing quiet, sustaining grace.