Chapter 16: A Morning of Sorrows
P218 The man standing next to him looked a bit like Papa; dignified, older and wiry and taller than Mack. He had silver white hair pulled back into a ponytail, matched by a gray-splashed mustache and goatee. Plaid shirt with sleeves rolled up, jeans, and hiking boots completed the outfit of someone ready to hit the trail. “Papa?” Mack asked.
Q: Did this change surprise you in the book? Why/ why not? What does this tell us about the author’s understanding about God?
P219 Papa – This morning you’re going to need a father.
Q: When do we need God to be a father in our lives? Why?
Matthew 7:11 If you, then, though you are evil, know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will your Father in heaven give good gifts to those who ask him!
Matthew 12:49-50 Pointing to his disciples, he said, “Here are my mother and my brothers. For whoever does the will of my Father in heaven is my brother and sister and mother.”
P220 Papa – I suppose there is something very special about an only begotten son. That is part of the uniqueness in which I know him.
Q: Do you ever wonder about God relationship to Christ? What does it teach us about being a parent, a son, or a daughter?
John 3:16-17 For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life.
1 John 4:9 This is how God showed his love among us: He sent his one and only Son into the world that we might live through him.
P221 Mack – thinking – And then last night’s celebration topped it off, including the reconciliation with his father – so much healing with so little spoken.
Papa – I understand Mackenzie. We are coming full circle. Forgiving your dad yesterday was a significant part of your being able to know me as Father today.
Q: How do we imprint our earthly father’s characteristics onto those of God? Does this help or hinder our relationship with God?
P222 Papa there was no way to create freedom without a cost, as you know. I knew that my creation would rebel, would choose independence and death, and I knew what it would cost me to open a path of reconciliation.
Could I have prevented what happened to Missy? The answer is yes.
Papa – At this point all I have to offer you as an answer is my love and goodness, and my relationship with you. I did not purpose Missy’s death, but that doesn’t mean I can’t use it for good.
Q: Why would Papa’s statement have angered or disappointed Mack? Have there been occasions in our own lives where we thought God should intervene? What happens to our beliefs when He doesn’t?
Psalm 13:1-2 How long, O LORD? Will you forget me forever? How long will you hide your face from me? How long must I wrestle with my thoughts and every day have sorrow in my heart? How long will my enemy triumph over me?
P223 Papa spoke gently and reassuringly. “Son, this is not about shaming you. I don’t do humiliation, or guilt, or condemnation. They don’t produce one speck of wholeness or righteousness, and that it why they were nailed into Jesus on the cross.
Q: Is this a biblical view of God or one that the author has? Does God reject humiliation, guilt, or condemnation?
John 3:17-18 For God did not send his Son into the world to condemn the world, but to save the world through him. Whoever believes in him is not condemned, but whoever does not believe stands condemned already because he has not believed in the name of God’s one and only Son.
John 8:9-11 At this, those who heard began to go away one at a time, the older ones first, until only Jesus was left, with the woman still standing there. 10 Jesus straightened up and asked her, “Woman, where are they? Has no one condemned you?”
11 “No one, sir,” she said.
“Then neither do I condemn you,” Jesus declared. “Go now and leave your life of sin.”
1 John 3:19-20 This then is how we know that we belong to the truth, and how we set our hearts at rest in his presence whenever our hearts condemn us. For God is greater than our hearts, and he knows everything.
P224 – Papa – Mack, for you to forgive this man is for you to release him to me and allow me to redeem him.
Papa – Forgiveness is not about forgetting, Mack. It is about letting go of another person’s throat.
Papa – because of Jesus, there is now no law demanding that I bring your sins back to mind. They are gone when it comes to you and me, and they run no interference in our relationship.
Q: What do you think about these statements regarding forgiveness and sin? Why would forgiving someone else allow God the freedom to redeem that person? What did Jesus do to change the demands of the divine law? How does that help us relate to God today?
Matthew 6:14-15 For if you forgive men when they sin against you, your heavenly Father will also forgive you. But if you do not forgive men their sins, your Father will not forgive your sins.
2 Corinthians 2:10-11 If you forgive anyone, I also forgive him. And what I have forgiven-if there was anything to forgive-I have forgiven in the sight of Christ for your sake, in order that Satan might not outwit us. For we are not unaware of his schemes.
Colossians 3:13 Bear with each other and forgive whatever grievances you may have against one another. Forgive as the Lord forgave you.
P225 – Papa – Forgiveness does not establish relationship. In Jesus, I have forgiven all humans for their sins against me, but only some choose relationship.
Papa – Forgiveness is first for you the forgiver…to release you from something that will eat you alive; that will destroy your joy and your ability to love fully and openly.
Papa – When you forgive someone you certainly release them from judgment, but without true change, no real relationship can be established.
Q: How does forgiveness affect our relationships? Are their people in our lives that we cannot seem to forgive? Have we been unforgiven by other people?
P226 – Papa – Forgiveness in no way requires that you trust the one you forgive. But should they finally confess and repent, you will discover a miracle in your own heart that allows you to reach out and begin to build between you a bridge of reconciliation.
Q: How can trust be built up after forgiveness? What happens to our relationships when those we truly forgive see the error of their ways? Is this how God operates with us?
Mark 11:25 And when you stand praying, if you hold anything against anyone, forgive him, so that your Father in heaven may forgive you your sins.”
Luke 17:3-4 “If your brother sins, rebuke him, and if he repents, forgive him. 4 If he sins against you seven times in a day, and seven times comes back to you and says, ‘I repent,’ forgive him.”
Hebrews 8:12 For I will forgive their wickedness and will remember their sins no more.”
P227 – Papa – Just say it out loud. There is power in what my children declare.
Don’t let the anger and pain and loss you feel prevent you from forgiving him and removing your hands from around his neck.
Son, you may have to declare your forgiveness a hundred times the first day and the second day, but the third day will be less and each day after, until one day you will realize that you have forgiven completely. And then one day you will pray for his wholeness and give him over to me so that my love will burn from his life very vestige of corruption.
Q: How does this suggestion about learning to forgive someone else in stages relate to your own experiences? Does God forgive in stages like this?
P228 – Papa – Don’t ever discount the wonder of your tears. They can be the healing waters and a stream of joy. Sometimes they are the best words the heart can speak.
Q: How true has this been for you? Why do we fight back our tears? What is their purpose?
P230 – Not a word had been spoken except for Mack muttering occasionally under his breath, “I forgive you…I forgive you…”