Coming soon to a couch near you! We’ve been booking some intimate home shows in the Portland area this summer and are looking for some more homes to invade. So if you would like to host an Acoustic Living Room Concert please let us know!
I was recently reading this passage in Micah 7, and was struck by the imagery of God hurling our sins into the deepest, dark depths of the sea.
Who is a God like you, who pardons sin and forgives the transgression of the remnant of his inheritance? You do not stay angry forever but delight to show mercy. You will again have compassion on us; you will tread our sins underfoot and hurl all our iniquities into the depths of the sea. —Micah 7:18-19
Have you ever seen the creatures that live at the extreme, dark depths of the ocean? Most of them are blind and fairly frightening to behold; definitely not something you would want to find at the end of your fishing line if you were to pull one up. I like this dual meaning to having our sins cast into the deep. Once there, they are not meant to be retrieved or pulled back up. Indeed it should be impossible to find them again down in the dark, where no light reaches, but if we were to somehow snag and retrieve them they would be ugly to behold—that is if they weren’t completely crushed to nothingness first by the extreme pressure and weight of the water at those depths!
With this in mind, I find it interesting that when we forgive others who have wronged us we often try to get away with only tossing the memory into the shallows at the very edge of shore. It’s like we want to be able to have them close at hand and easily accessible to fish them out whenever we want to revisit the hurt and feed the bitterness. But we are called to forgive just as God has forgiven us, to forget and remember their sins no more!
Get rid of all bitterness, rage and anger, brawling and slander, along with every form of malice. Be kind and compassionate to one another, forgiving each other, just as in Christ God forgave you. —Ephesians 4:31-32
I love this quote from Corrie ten Boom, who of all people had cause and perhaps according to the world’s standards the right to hold onto a grudge and harbor bitterness for her captors and tormentors.
When we confess our sins, God casts them into the deepest ocean, gone forever … Then God places a sign out there that says No Fishing Allowed! —Corrie ten Boom
This is the model we are to follow. We are to forgive and forget, cast the bitterness and anger into the deepest ocean and then obey the posted “No Fishing” signs!
Therefore, as God’s chosen people, holy and dearly loved, clothe yourselves with compassion, kindness, humility, gentleness and patience. Bear with each other and forgive one another if any of you has a grievance against someone. Forgive as the Lord forgave you. —Colossians 3:12-13
I was inspired to start working on some song lyrics that speak of this “No Fishing Allowed” concept. Here are my initial thoughts that will perhaps change as the song is more fully formed.
If our forgiveness is no more
Than minnows in the shallows
Then we’ll be too quick to reel it in
When bitterness snaps its jaws closed
We’ll just reel it in
Instead of seven inches down,
Let seventy times seven fathoms drown
Our hurt, our anger, our sense of deep betrayal
Let the depths of the deep drag them down, down, down
No, there’s no fishing allowed
When we forgive those who’ve wronged us
Just like our Father forgives
We’re to leave it behind
Just forget about it
As far as East is from the West
That’s how far he has cast them away
All our iniquities sink into the depths of the deepest sea
The sign says, “No Fishing, Please!”
I find I take bitterness’ bait
Swallow hook line and sinker
When those ugly bottom feeders rise
I think to myself, “Look what’s for dinner”
But he has called us to release
Not to catch, release, then re-catch
Instead of angling for anger
Let’s let love for our neighbor be the day’s catch
Let’s let our bitterness sink
Into the depths of the deepest sea
Where the sign says, “No Fishing, Please!”
I for one am so thankful that God does not hold our sins in remembrance or pull them out and dust them off to remind us of our shame and guilt. No, instead he blots them out as if they never happened and remembers them no more!
I, even I, am he who blots out your transgressions, for my own sake, and remembers your sins no more. —Isaiah 43:25
He does not hold on to his anger or nurse a grudge, nor does he repay us according to what we deserve. Instead he sent his only Son to die in our place and pay the penalty for our sins, so that he could look at us and truly see us as spotless and blameless in his sight—for he sees the perfect white Lamb of his Son when he looks at those of us who are buried and hidden in Christ!
Praise the Lord, my soul, and forget not all his benefits—who forgives all your sins and heals all your diseases, who redeems your life from the pit and crowns you with love and compassion, who satisfies your desires with good things so that your youth is renewed like the eagle’s. The Lord is compassionate and gracious, slow to anger, abounding in love. He will not always accuse, nor will he harbor his anger forever; he does not treat us as our sins deserve or repay us according to our iniquities. For as high as the heavens are above the earth, so great is his love for those who fear him; as far as the east is from the west, so far has he removed our transgressions from us. —Psalm 103:2-5, 8-12
It’s not just a good idea to forgive others in this manner, but it is something that we are called to do.
For if you forgive other people when they sin against you, your heavenly Father will also forgive you. But if you do not forgive others their sins, your Father will not forgive your sins. —Matthew 6:14-15
And yet, even in light of these verses, we so often like Peter try to hem and haw or bargain with the Lord. What if I forgive them seven whole times? That is surely a great amount and I should be crowned a saint for my long-suffering and patience, right? I’ve already forgiven them so many times, and yet they still continue to hurt and wrong me. When is enough enough? Jesus reply is that we are to forgive again, even when it seems an innumerable number of wrongs have been stacked against us!
Then Peter came to Jesus and asked, “Lord, how many times shall I forgive my brother or sister who sins against me? Up to seven times?” Jesus answered, “I tell you, not seven times, but seventy-seven times. —Matthew 18:21-22
May this be a gentle reminder to all of us the next time bitterness comes knocking and we are tempted to cast our line into the shallows to reel it back out again. First we need to throw it out into deeper waters, and then we need to obey the posted limit—zero, No Fishing Allowed!