Friday, June 02, 2006

Fear and Forgiveness

Psalm 130
A song of ascents.
1 Out of the depths I cry to you, O LORD; 2 O Lord, hear my voice. Let your ears be attentive to my cry for mercy. 3 If you, O LORD, kept a record of sins, O Lord, who could stand? 4 But with you there is forgiveness; therefore you are feared. 5 I wait for the LORD, my soul waits, and in his word I put my hope. 6 My soul waits for the Lord more than watchmen wait for the morning.7 O Israel, put your hope in the LORD, for with the LORD is unfailing love and with him is full redemption. 8 He himself will redeem Israel from all their sins.


I was just diving about amidst the Psalms, as I am occasionally wont to do and read again the De Profundis. Yet this is called a "song of ascents", and what begins in profoundly anguished pleas ends in hope. But that we knew.

This time I stalled on the section I have in blue text "But with you there is forgiveness; therefore you are feared." Not loved, not adored, not admired, not longed for or revered. Feared. The psalmist builds a direct link between forgiveness and fear.

OK I know the phrase "to fear God" -- but I think there is a deeper hit to be obtained here - I have spent a lot of time this year on issues of forgiveness. And it strikes me that we do fear those who have the power to forgive us. We fear that they might withhold the forgiveness, or in giving it, draw close to us in a way that we find uncomfortable, a way which makes us uneasy. If someone forgives me, it is like they move one inch closer inside my personal space. They remove a barrier that I may have wanted in place.

When I open myself to the awareness that I am forgiven by God, in addition to gratitude, I am overwhelmed with an awesome sense of responsibility and an almost searing sense of intimacy where nothing of who I am is hidden from He who is still so hidden from me.

Here I am still fumbling around issues related to forgiveness. Will I ever learn? I am strangely comforted by the psalmist who found fear inside forgiveness. It is a thing that can bury its meaning in the deepest parts of who we are, and then ask us to dig through the deepest and darkest layers of ourselves to unearth it.

4 Comments:

Blogger Maggie Rose said...

*a bowed head*

7:25 AM  
Blogger The Harbour of Ourselves said...

there is real upside down life, where forgiveness gives birth to fear....pure love i suppose scares the shit out of us all...

11:36 AM  
Blogger beth said...

"...responsibility and intimacy"...wow. I am currently struggling with this in a minor way, as I learning to say what I mean, speak loudly about my pain and pray like crazy that I won't be left because of it...to be willing to dialogue towards forgiveness and then accept it. To work through forgiveness means that I have to accept responsibility for the intimacy I crave...it's so hard...

Pure love scares the crap outta me, but it's all I want...
Thanks for sharing your heart...

10:04 PM  
Blogger Mata H said...

Forgiveness...I think it is a much wider and more complicated thing than I ever imagined. And I think I'll be thinking through it and feeling through it and groping through it for the rest of my life. The what of forgiveness. The how. The when. The why.

11:53 PM  

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