by Ken Rolheiser
Lent’s Journey of Forgiveness 

Stories that touch the heart are worth repeating. 

A bitter man was walking in the woods one day. As he thought about his life, he remembered those who had lied about him and cheated him. He thought about his family that had passed on and his illness for which there was no cure. His very soul was filled with anger, resentment and frustration.  

Searching for answers, he knelt at the base of an old oak tree. Tearfully he prayed: "Lord, today, you ask me to forgive; I cannot. It is not fair. I didn't deserve these wrongs done against me and I shouldn't have to forgive. I cannot do it. I pray that you teach me to forgive." 

As he knelt there, he felt something fall onto his shoulder. He opened his eyes and saw something red on his shirt. He could not see the oak tree anymore, but only a large square piece of wood in the ground. He raised his head and saw two feet held to the wood with a large spike through them. He raised his head more, and tears came to his eyes as he saw Jesus hanging on a cross. He saw spikes in His hands, a gash in His side, a torn and battered body, and deep thorns sunk into His head. Finally, he saw the suffering and pain on His precious face. 

As their eyes met, the man's tears turned to sobs, and Jesus began to speak. "Have you ever told a lie?" The man answered, "Yes, Lord." "Have you ever been given too much change and kept it?" "Yes, Lord" And the man sobbed more and more. "Have you ever taken something from work that wasn't yours," "Yes, Lord." As Jesus asked many more times, "Have you ever…?" the man's crying became uncontrollable, for he could only answer, "Yes, Lord." 

Then Jesus turned His head from one side to the other, and the man felt something fall on his other shoulder. He looked and saw that it was the blood of Jesus. When he looked back up, his eyes met those of Jesus, and there was a look of love the man had never seen or known before. Jesus said, "I didn't deserve this either, but I forgive you." 

In another Internet story a man was driving in the rain with his six-year-old daughter Aspen.
Suddenly she spoke, "Dad, I'm thinking of something." "What are you thinking?" he asked. 
"The rain," she began, "is like sin, and the windshield wipers are like God wiping our sins away." 
After the chill bumps raced up his arms, he was able to respond. "That's really good, Aspen." 
How far would this little girl take this revelation? So he asked, "Do you notice how the rain keeps on coming? What does that tell you?" Aspen didn't hesitate one moment with her answer: "We keep on sinning, and God just keeps on forgiving us." 

Lent is a time of forgiveness. How important is it that we forgive? Jesus tells us: “If you forgive others their failings, your heavenly Father will forgive you yours.” (Matthew 6:14). And again, Jesus says: “And when you stand alone in prayer, forgive whatever you have against anybody, so that your Father in heaven may forgive your failings too.” (Mark 11:25).  

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