THE BLACKS AND WHITES OF FORGIVENESS I wish I could say that after a long and fruitful life, traveling the world, I had learned to forgive all my enemies. I wish I could say that merciful and charitable thoughts just naturally flowed from me on to others. But they don't. If there is one thing I've learned since I've passed my eightieth birthday, it's that I can't store up good feelings and behavior--but only draw them fresh from God each day. Maybe I'm glad it's that way, for every time I go to Him, he teaches me something else. I recall the time-- and I was almost seventy--when some Christian friends whom I loved and trusted did something which hurt me. You would have thought that, having been able to forgive the guards in Ravensbruk, forgiving Christian friends would be child's play. It wasn't. For weeks I seethed inside. But at last I asked God again to work His miracle in me. And again it happened: first the cold-blooded decision, then the flood of joy and peace. I had forgiven my friends; I was restored to my Father. Then, why was I suddenly awake in the middle of the night, rehashing the whole affair again? My friends! I thought. People I loved. If it had been strangers, I wouldn't have minded so. I sat up and switched on the light. "Father, I thought it was all forgiven. Please help me do it." but the next night I woke up again. They'd talked so sweetly too! Never a hint of what they were planning. "Father!" I cried in alarm. "Help me!" Then it was that another secret of forgiveness became evident. It is not enough to simply say, "I forgive you." I must also begin to live it out. And in my case, that meant acting as though their sins, like mine, were buried in the depth of the deepest sea.... And so I discovered another of God's principles: We can trust God not only for our emotions but also for our thoughts. As I asked Him to renew my mind He also took away my thoughts. He still had more to teach me, however, even from this single espisode. Many years later, after I had passed my eightieth birthday, an American friend came to visit me in Holland. As we sat in my little apartment in Baarn he asked me about those people from long ago who had taken advantage of me. "It is nothing," I said a little smugly. "It is all forgiven." "By you, yes," he said. "But what about them? Have they accepted your forgiveness?" "They say there is nothing to forgive! They deny it every happened. No matter what they say, though, I can prove they were wrong." I went eagerly to my desk. "See, I have it in black and white! I saved all their letters and I can show you where...." "Corrie!" My friend slipped his arm through mine and gently closed the drawer. "Aren't you the one whose sins are at the bottom of the sea? Yet are the sins of your friends etched in black and white?" For an astonishing moment I could not find my voice. "Lord Jesus," I whispered at last, "who takes all my sins away, forgive me for preserving all these years the evidence against others! Give me grace to burn all the blacks and whites as a sweet-smelling sacrifice to your glory." I did not go to sleep that night until I had gone through my desk and pulled out those letters--curling now with age--and fed them all into my little coal-burning grate. As the flames leaped and glowed, so did my heart. "Forgive us our trespasses," Jesus thought us to pray, "as we forgive those who trespass against us." In the ashes of those letters I was seeing yet another facet of His mercy.... Forgiveness is the key which unlocks the door of resentment and the handcuffs of hatred. It breaks the chains of bitterness and the shackles of selfishness. The forgiveness of Jesus not only takes away our sins, bit makes them as if they had never been. __________ From "Tramp For The Lord" by Corrie Ten Boom with Jamie Buckingham (Christian Literature Crusade and Fleming H. Revell Company: Fort Washington, Old Tappen, 1974) pp. ------------------ Yesterday's history. Tomorrow's a mystery. Today is a "gift." That's why we call it "the present." What will you do with your gift of today?