In his poem “The Unforgiving Servant,” J. Barrie Shepherd longs to taste the freedom of forgiveness. I can relate to his desire to be free from the “jailhouse of resentment and old fears” he has built around his life.
The Unforgiving Servant
Forgiveness is the meaning of this story, Lord.
As I read I am compelled to ask myself this question,
Whom do I not forgive?
To whom in my life, even this day,
Have I been like this unforgiving servant,
Grabbing all your grace, and giving none away?
So much of daily living
can be built on grudges, hurts, and old resentments.
At times it seems as if the closer I am to someone,
the more difficult it is to forgive.
With colleagues among whom I work,
neighbors, those with whom I pass my leisure time,
fellow members of societies and clubs,
even churches, especially churches,
forgiveness is a rare, endangered species in my life.
There are the faceless grudges, too:
against politicians and the poor, the folk we punish
in our prisons by the grim conditions
in which they have to exist.
Can we forgive the old for being old and wrinkled,
for reminding us of what we will become?
Can I forgive myself, Lord,
for not living out my dreams,
for years of quiet failure and defeat?
Deliver me this night, Father,
from the prison I have built around my life,
this jailhouse of resentment and old fears;
and let me taste the freedom of forgiveness,
the liberty of living in the kingdom of your grace,
in Jesus Christ.
(A Diary of Prayer by J. Barrie Shepherd, p. 123)
Shepherd opens up Matthew 18:21-35 and reminds us that forgiveness is a life long journey.
Where have we been people “Grabbing all your grace, and giving none away?”
Last Sunday, Tammy Johnson-Roy quoted her mother during the Minute for Mission, “If you take one step, God will do the rest.” We have a chance to take another step toward wholeness tomorrow, as the three week Quest for Perfection series starts.