Did you know falling out of an airplane is a good illustration for forgiveness?
Recently I went tandem skydiving as I checked one more thing off my bucket list. On the ground, I was given step-by-step instructions and suited with a harness that would attach me to my instructor. Even as we rode the plane to a height of 13,500 feet, I was given a reminder of the instructions and description of what would happen. As we – the instructor and I – neared the drop site, we inched forward on a bench at the center of the plane; we inched because we were closely attached by secure hooks and clips. We dropped to the floor of the plane and scooted forward to the edge of the open exit area of the plane. My feet were hanging over the edge and I could hear the rush of the wind and see only open sky. My whole body was dependent upon being securely strapped to my instructor. My instructor spoke into my ear, “remember, we will rock forward and back and at the count of three we will fall forward out of the plane. And don’t worry, I’ve got you.”
“I’ve got you” is what Jesus tells us – in the moments of life, and especially in the moments of forgiveness. As the Lord’s Prayer reminds us, “Forgive us our trespasses as we forgive those who trespass against us…,” we are not meant to carry the burden of unforgiveness – a burden that can hold us back and weigh us down. When we forgive others – or maybe even ourselves, we are letting go and letting God handle the future. If we try to hold on, we not only hold ourselves back from growing in trust but we miss the pure freedom of grace.
Grace is the bliss that comes from free falling with Jesus – being fully dependent on Him – especially when we admit need forgiveness from sin or that someone has sinned against us deserves forgiveness.
At the moment we went out that open doorway, I had to trust the instructor had the ability and the care for me as a student to carry the responsibility of the flight and subsequent safe landing. Jesus has the ability to deal with sin – our sin and the sin of others – and carried that responsibility to the cross. By His care for us, we are able to know the joy and bliss of grace – a gift best received and given when we are secured, closely to our all-knowing Teacher. Just as my instructor’s reputation was invested in me landing safely, our witness of the living God is invested in our being able to receive forgiveness for our sins and to offer forgiveness to others .
“Letting go and letting God” is not easy, like the moment I was staring down at ground 13,500 feet below me. I had learned all the instructions, but now the time came to really put it into practice. The view from that high altitude perspective reminded me God always knows and sees the bigger picture, while we often only get the earth-based view. For it is often our limited view that informs our withholding of our need to forgive and need to be forgiven. Forgiveness allows us the freedom to get an unobstructed view of God’s work – through grace – in our lives.
While we learn about forgiveness on the ground, it is only when we “let go and let God” that we understand why our Savior wants us to experience the freedom forgiveness brings. And what a grace-filled and freeing experience it is.