Focal Point (for publishing-06/09/05)
The Freedom of Forgiveness
Amazing Grace, sung many times at funerals and memorials carries some deep sentiments. I wonder how many of us know the words. I thought about this old hymn when I heard some men talking about their lives and the things that have them 'bugged' or ' hamstrung' or in effect imprisoned. Normally it's to do poor or broken relationships and lack of access to their children. As a result many are turning to 'anesthetics' to dull the pain and their anesthetics of choice are alcohol, drugs, web-sex and good old work - seven days a week. Now if you didn't know, John Newton who wrote Amazing Grace was once a slave trader and personally oversaw some of the deepest human misery. When he came to his senses, the pain from the realization of the misery he had caused was immense, so he turned to God for forgiveness and he got it. When this happened he realized that it was nothing but God's Grace/ favor that had set him free. This was not a new idea, for when God's Son, Jesus walked this earth he publicly announced that He had come to heal the broken-hearted and to set the captive free. John Newton sure was a captive of enormous guilt that was screwing his life up and he certainly needed freeing. As a forgiven man he wrote the hymn about the Amazing Grace that he didn't deserve that had saved a 'wretch like me'. You don't have to be a guilty slave trader to be bound in a prison of sorts, and like the men above we know that many things hold us captive. Women too, in our community need to be set free from the life of pain that for some, started from a childhood sexual abuse. The perpetrator is hardly likely to come back and say sorry, so they have to find a way of getting free from that which is holding them. Sitting with a counsellor helps, and hearing the stories of others helps us to know that we are not the only ones, but at the end of the day the choice to change from the victim position plays a big part. It's not until these women can forgive themselves for thinking that they were to blame that they can move on. Of course when we have worked some of these things out we can turn to God for the ultimate freedom. It's not a cop-out, it is what He promised to do for those He created, and it's part of the relationship of genuine friendship He desires with each one of us. Accept the Grace and welcome freedom.