“Excuse me.” We say this as a polite way of asking someone to let us off the hook for an otherwise impolite action — bumping in to someone, interrupting, a burp (or something else ..) We don’t really apologize for our offensive action, but just acknowledge it’s offensiveness, expecting the other to be gracious and let it pass without hurt. Mostly, it’s habitual, said without thought or real emotion, and the one offended is left to not only deal with the offense to their social grace, but the lingering consequences as well.
Too often, we say “excuse me” to God, asking Him to overlook our offense, and go on our merry way, not truly repentant or acknowleging the “smell” our tresspass has left. We don’t want to have to stop, and clean up our mess. We don’t want to be bothered to change our course . Just “excuse” this please, and we’ll be on our way… No real work required by us.

To be truly repentant takes effort though. When we confess and ask forgiveness, we are agreeing with the other that what we did was truly wrong, that it is offensive and damaging to the relationship, and admitting to our sorrow and regret that it happened *because* of the damage to the relationship (as opposed to sorrow because we don’t like the consequences, or because we got caught..) We don’t like to acknowledge the pain of another. We don’t want to look outside ourselves. That’s very uncomfortable and often even painful, and above all, we do NOT want to cause ourselves pain. But to truly acknowledge that our actions caused pain, caused damage, and to admit that we can’t fix it, change it or erase it.. To really take responsibility for our actions and accept the blame.. That hurts our pride and our comfort with ourselves, and forces us to change and alter our course of action.

We are then asking that the relationship be restored *in spite of* the damage we caused. That’s what forgiveness truly is: that choice to remain in relationship; to desire the other’s company, good opinion and interaction; and to continue in basic faith and good will towards them; regardless of how their actions may have angered or hurt. They, in forgiving us, chooses to continue to love and want to spend time in our company, regardless of how we hurt them. What’s truly amazing is that God, in His infinate mercy, chooses to love and pursue us, despite the fact that we continually throw it back in His face, hatefully and scornfully denying how we hurt Him!

The cross was the physical demonstration of what we, in our ignorance and rebellion, figuratively and emotionally do to the heart of the Father every single time we choose to sin. The outward wounds of Christ are the spiritual damage we inflict carelessly on God’s heart, every time we commit an offense on His loving-kindness? That little white lie? A stroke of the hammer on the nail in His hands.. That harsh word of judgment? Another lash on His back with the whip.. That less-than-kind attitude while driving? Push those thorns in just a bit deeper..

Yet this is the love and mercy of God: that He would choose to suffer our tortures of Him, and continue to pursue us, knowing that history proves it will be more of the same. He tells us, “Yes, you hurt me. Yes, you continue to hurt me. But you are so important to me, that no matter what you do, I will *never* stop loving you, and I will *never* stop wanting to be with you! I can go on in relationship with you, because I value our relationship more than myself and my own wellbeing. I don’t care that you hurt me, and I will forget all about it, just to continue our relationship!”

How great the Father’s love..

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