God Who Is Ready To Forgive
"But you are a God ready to forgive, gracious and merciful, slow to anger and abounding in steadfast love, and you did not forsake them." (Nehemiah 9:17 NRS)
God is the God who forgives. He is also the God who is ready to forgive.
Nehemiah 9:17 doesn't just say God forgives. It adds that extra dimension: He is "ready to forgive."
What does that mean about God? What does that mean about you and me?
The word "ready" makes me think of a runner at the starting line of a race, feet positioned in the blocks, poised for action. Ahead of the starting gun, the announcement: "Ready, set..."
The "ready" is almost a question.
"Are you ready? Are you ready to run this race?"
The runner's readiness at that moment has to do with so much more than whether or not he's in place to run that race.
To be ready, the competitor had to assign value to the race ahead of time. He had to decide it was worth the work, the effort. He had to determine that the possible outcome of the race was worth taking a chance on, even if a desired result did not come to pass. He had to go the distance. He had to follow through on commitment. He had to keep going when he wanted to quit.
God who is ready to forgive assigned value to the race of forgiveness at the very beginning of time. He decided we were worth it. He determined that the possible outcome of the race—the gain of the prize of our souls—was worth taking a chance on even though the desired result, because of our free will, was not guaranteed. He went the distance from heaven to earth to the cross to the grave to earth and back to heaven again.
Can you see God poised at the starting line of forgiveness, just waiting for us to humble ourselves and ask for it? He's so ready to forgive, there's nearly a false start, except that nothing about God is ever false.
"Ready?" If this is a question, God's answer is always, "Yes."
"Ready?" What is my answer? Am I ready to run the race of forgiveness? Have I counted the cost and decided my relationship with God, which unforgiveness trips up, is worth the work? Have I determined that the possible outcome of running this race is worth taking a chance on, even though one specific result—because of the free will of the person I'm forgiving—is not guaranteed? Have I figured out that if I truly run this race, I will gain a certain prize: the favor and blessing of God?
When forgiveness is needed, I want to get ready for it. I want to see the value in it. I want to put in the work. I want to set my feet in the starting blocks. And when the gun goes off, I want to be ready to run the race.
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I'd love to hear from you! Feel free to tell me what you really think. Years ago, I explained to my then-two-year-old that my appointment with a counselor was "sort of like going to a doctor who will help me be a better mommy." Without blinking, she replied, "You'd better go every day." All of which is just to say I've spent some time in the school of brutal honesty!