“Daddy, I want you to go first!” said my three-year-old son, Micah.
“But I didn’t bring my suit bud.” Not to mention that I didn’t want to go down the Slip-n-Slide we’d just set up in my parent’s yard.
“Daddy please!” *cue giant puppy dog eyes.*
Little did I know that God was about to use my three-year-old son to teach me a profound lesson.
Under silent protest, I went inside to find something I didn’t mind getting wet. I knew Micah didn’t get it and was afraid, and that he needed me to show him how it’s done. I came back out, got a running start and splashed down the slide. My son went right after me and we couldn’t keep him off it for hours.
We were at my parent’s house that weekend for a much-needed change of scenery. My wife and I have been walking through an extremely difficult situation, dealing with uncertainty, betrayal, and hurt that has stretched our faith and our marriage but has also made us stronger. While we have peace that passes understanding from God, we are dealing with bitterness and anger.
At the height of our turmoil, Micah refused to go down the Slip-n-Slide. But after I showed him how, he looked at us and said, “I watched daddy go first and now I’m brave.”
And God used that to speak to me in one of the most powerful ways I’ve ever experienced.
In that moment I needed the reminder that I watched God go first. Mankind has rebelled against him since the creation, yet God made a way to reconcile us. Jesus was spit on, abused, betrayed, tortured, and killed, and yet from the cross He prayed, “forgive them Father.” He looks at the depths of my own rebellion and, by faith, sees Christ’s righteousness, a grace I don’t deserve.
Because I watched my God go first, I can be brave to forgive others too. When I am tempted to harbor bitterness against those who have wronged me, I remember that God went first and died for me while I was yet a sinner. Thank God that, in Christ, “…we do not have a high priest who is unable to empathize with our weaknesses, but we have one who has been tempted in every way, just as we are—yet he did not sin.” (Hebrews 4:15)
Jesus suffered all and much more than we suffer in this earthly life, yet he knew no sin. Knowing no sin, he was able to be sin for us that we may become the righteousness of God. And because God did that for us, we can forgive others. May we rest in the debt He paid for us so that we may be empowered to forgive our debtors.