I had the unique experience of visiting a small local chapel with a dear friend with the intention of giving some things up to Jesus. It was an exercise in forgiveness, pure and simple, and it was one of those quiet, beautiful moments that I love to reflect on in my spiritual journey.
I was instructed by this friend to come with a list of things that I would be reading outloud to Jesus and after I did this, she walked me up to the altar and helped me place them under a good-size, heavy gold statue of a cross. This act, of course, symbolized me leaving this burden at the cross and recognizing that Jesus had died for everything that was on my list. She told me that the people who took care of the chapel were meticulous in their upkeep and that the list would probably be picked up shortly and thrown out, but not to worry about anonymity and such.
Time went on and the contents of that list would occasionally creep into my thoughts, not surprisingly. So I would brush the thoughts away and remind myself that it was done and behind me. I heard recently that forgiveness, like most emotional and spiritual work, is like the ringing of a bell. The actual ringing takes place once but the echoes of the bell may continue, always fading with time, and you remind yourself that what you’re hearing are just the echoes and nothing more.
This weekend, five months after visiting the chapel for the first time, I found myself alone and walking right by, so I went in to pray for a few minutes.Since no one was there and my curiosity tends to get the best of me, I snuck up to the altar, hoisted that cross back a bit, and gasped to find my list still intact after all that time.
I brought it back to my pew and sat there to read it, strictly out of fascination. It pained me unfortunately to see so many of the same issues and feelings present in my life, and so I recommitted it all to Jesus and put the papers back under the cross.
But here’s where it gets interesting.When I told my friend about this – the one who took me there the first time – she mentioned that she had taken another dear woman to do the very same thing a few months back and that my list hadn’t been under there when they did hers.And, when I was there this weekend, my list was the only one.
I don’t believe in spooky kinds of things. But I do believe in God. And I believe in His intimate timing. And I believe He knew I’d be walking by that chapel on a cool Sunday afternoon and that no one else would be there that day. And I believe in messages. And I believe in Love.
So I was sharing this whole thing with another friend today and she said, “Maybe God wanted you to know that He’s still got you…” And, I said, “And that maybe He’s still working on all of it?” “Yeah,” she answered, “and you need to give it all up to Him…and you need to keep hoping,” she added. (I’ve got amazing friends.)
So today, I’m resting in a message sent that whispers a promise of constant Presence and Peace in the middle of this crazy life.