God, Simplified & Amplified

Psalm 130 – The 5th Sunday After Pentecost – for Sunday, June 28, 2015

“But forgiveness is with you . . .” (Psalm 130:4)

forgive-21It is fundamental for every major religious tradition.

It’s essential when (trying) to follow a Christian path.

It was a guttural shout from Jesus on the cross.

It anchored the middle of the Lord’s Prayer.

It’s what I can gift to others.

(And also receive.)

It is what I need each day.

It is what I already have.

It is . . .


It was there again today, like a welcoming hug home, in Psalm 130. In a sense, in that easy-to-read eight-versed Psalm, less than a score of words reveal the heart of the heart of the Divine nature.

If you kept track of sins, Lord, the Psalmist mused millennia ago, who would stand a chance

But forgiveness is with you.

Which can be simplified too: God forgives.

There have been many (so, so many) who have written about forgiveness before me. All of them were more articulate. There will also be many after I post this inconsequential essay far more articulate about describing, defining, and delighting in divine forgiveness.

Prior to publishing this on my website, I’ll revise it one more time and one more time and one more time in a futile effort to craft the perfect way to say the perfect thing. After all, revision is the writer’s quest for forgiveness. (And thanks be to God that the journey of writing is more important than the destination. If only I believed that . . .)

I am, before my first breath and after my last gasp, forgiven. You are, before your first breath and after your last gasp, forgiven.

There is nothing you have to do.

There is nothing you need to confess.

With an unimaginable, unfathomable, unlimited sense of a love we cannot understand, God forgives.

And forgives again.

And keeps on forgiving.

How humbled I am to (try to) serve a forgiving God. Could I have survived my long-ago divorce or the worst mistakes of my ministry or the shameful things I’ve secretly done without remembering how forgiving the Holy was, is, and always will be?

Although on most days, on those routine and humdrum days, there’s little need for God’s forgiveness.


Why do we kid ourselves into thinking the trivial is trivial?

What about my envious thoughts?

What about my snide remarks?

What about my turning aside from a fellow human’s need?

What about having too much sugar or not enough fiber?

Geez . . . what about me just being so damn lazy?

Truthfully, I’m a bundle of anxiety and uncertainty requiring constant forgiveness. I am desperately in need of forgiveness for what I do (or don’t do) to others . . . and for what I do (or don’t do) to myself.

How could I witness today’s sunrise and not sing alleluia? Instead, I worried about my weight or bank account or . . .

How could I pass by another unique human being and not say hello? Instead, I averted my eyes and fretted about my lousy, busy schedule.

Every day yields a thousand moments of intimate and inimitable joy. Instead, I choose whining and complaining.

Every day offers a thousand possibilities for growth. Instead, I piddle away precious time by judging others (or comparing myself to others) rather than learning and risking and loving.

And yet God keeps forgiving . . .

Even me, the ignorer of the sunrise.

Even me, the avoider of helping others.

Even me, the procrastinator and pontificator.

How could the Psalmist know, so long ago, what I needed to hear today?

Every damn blessed day.

God forgives.


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  1. Dear Larry, I woke up at 4am this morning and in my search for reading material I found your post. The reason I had gotten out of bed was a rush of guilt concerning people I had hurt or neglected these past few months. I yearn for forgiveness and renewal of relationship. What can I do with the wretched person I am. I was at an impossible spot in my life. How could I have done those stupid things. Then I read your article and I can only hope it’s true.

    1. In a sense, I can only hope my words are true also. While easy to find passages in the Bible (or sections of other sacred texts) about an angry or petty Creator, I claim and cling to those “other” places where God’s forgiveness and mercy are emphasized. Maybe that view is a sign of my weakness. But on my best days, I believe it’s a reflection of my deepest faith.

      Though I can’t recall which book, I think it was Marcus Borg who said that he spent much of his life not needing to seek or receive forgiveness because there weren’t many terrible things that he had done or had been done to him. I hope and suspect that’s true for most . . . few of us have done “terrible things” to ourselves, to creation, to others. But isn’t it the more trivial acts that burden our hearts? That’s certainly the case for me. We (which is to say me) are too casual, too easily callous, with our (my) words and actions. Still, I believe in God’s unabashed love, and that our healing happens by grace and with joy, rather than through divine “punishment” or “vengeance.”

      I hope and pray for you to have opportunities for the “renewal of relationships.” Thanks for sharing you open heart, John.

  2. It is wonderful to have faith that God will forgive me. As hard as it is (sometimes) to ask God to forgive me, the joy that follows the forgiveness is a blessed joy and would not otherwise occur. Your writings made me thing about the other side of the coin: We, not only God, must forgive.

    A few quotes from Devin Brown in Bringing Narnia Home:
    • “When anyone makes a genuine apology in Narnia, they are forgiven. Always. No matter what.”
    • “Everyone says forgiveness is a lovely idea, until they have something to forgive.”
    • “To be a Christian means to forgive the inexcusable because God has forgiven the inexcusable in you.”
    • “And then Aslan focuses, not on the past and the mistake she made, but on the present and the future.”
    • “We find this same forgetting-what-is-past in the parable of the prodigal son.”
    • “Aslan tells Edmond’s siblings, ‘There is no need to talk to him about what is past.’ But he never tells Edmund not to bring up what is past.”

  3. You do get me out of my box and thinking about some things I would rather not think about! Thank you for reminding me of what I know and so often forget that God is always there, and always forgives, every damn day!

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