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Snorkels and Skittles



It was a beautiful day at the beach! Sunshine, great surf, wave boards and sand castles all gave the thirty teens I brought plenty to do!


There was this one little gaggle of tween-age boys that dug a long, shallow hole and started burying people up to their neck in nice, cool sand. I smiled and looked away, but when I looked back, one kid wearing a mask and snorkel was being completely cover with sand, with only the snorkel sticking out!


I was out of my chair in a flash, but not before one of the boys started poking Skittles down the snorkel hole!


“Get him out… Right now!” I shouted, and they all looked up at me, surprised and bemused.


“Whuuuut?” Clueless and giggling, the Skittle-stuffer kept feeding candy down the snorkel!


Just then, the buried boy bursts out of the sand like a human volcano and gave them a tongue-lashing rivaled only by my own!


Needless to say, they were shooed off to find something else to do, preferably something that didn’t block anybody’s airway! You’d think they would know not to mess with the one life-giving avenue that boy had. A Skittle went from something tempting and attractive to a life-blocking barrier, just like that!


I tell you this story because it leads me to think on the topic of forgiveness. I’ll explain…


It started with the Lords’ Prayer. Jesus’ disciples asked Him to teach them how they should pray, so He gave them the important basics like this:


“Our Father in heaven, hallowed be your name.

Your kingdom come, your will be done, on earth as it is in heaven.

Give us this day our daily bread,

and forgive us our debts, as we also have forgiven our debtors.

And lead us not into temptation, but deliver us from evil.

For if you forgive others their trespasses, your heavenly Father will also forgive you, but if you do not forgive others their trespasses, neither will your Father forgive your trespasses.”

(Matt. 6:9-15 ESV)


Here’s the thing…


When I read this last part, I was dumfounded because it sounded at first like an exchange or payment was required for forgiveness. “If I forgive, then and only then will God give me His forgiveness.” I had twisted it around, taking it to mean that God’s gift of forgiveness was not a gift at all but had to be earned. If God’s love is given freely, then why isn’t His forgiveness?


When I heard forgive us our debts, as we also have forgiven our debtors,” what I heard was that if I do not forgive others, God will withhold His forgiveness from me. He will do to me what I am doing to others. I asked myself, “Is this the God I know and love?”


BONUS SIDE SERMON: I do see this verse differently now, but please use me as your cautionary tale, people. If you ever read a verse that sounds contrary to God’s character of love, grace and mercy, do more research! Don’t stop there and let it poison your heart against God.


If you believe God is good, truly good, and a verse is sounding like He is not…

  • Check the context in which it is said or done, reading before and after.

  • Cross reference with other passages to find a broader meaning.

  • Discuss with your pastor or someone you respect for their Bible knowledge.

  • Take a knee, pray for insight and wisdom. If it worked for King Solomon, why not you?

This helped me a lot! I am very grateful I didn’t stop with that first misunderstanding. My story with God would have been very different if I left it there.


Sermon finished.


Back to main idea. Thanks for taking a sidestep with me. You’ll thank me later!


Strangely enough, God’s Spirit inspired me with this snorkel idea!


Imagine yourself under the sand with only a snorkel to breathe through. Now, imagine something gets stuck in your snorkel…maybe Skittles? You would probably start suffering from that barrier pretty quickly.


The Lord’s Prayer and following verses are not about God withholding His forgiveness but about Him teaching us how to keep the path open to His forgiveness. If I hold a grudge against others, I AM cutting myself off from God’s mercies. I AM clogging up the life-giving avenue that God sends His forgiveness through. My unwillingness or inability creates the barrier…Not God.


WHEN WE DO NOT FORGIVE,

WE ARE THE ONE’S SHOVING SKITTLES DOWN THE SNORKEL!


I like Skittles. Doesn’t everyone? They can be sweet and tempting, but maybe so is holding a grudge or punishing someone by refusing them forgiveness. Who among us hasn’t been tempted to hurt people back when they have hurt or wronged us?


But to give in to that temptation is to cut myself off from the life-giving breath of God’s forgiveness. We choke, we gasp and we die under the anger, resentment, and judgement we have stuffed in our “snorkel.”


Friends, I want better for us! God wants better for us!


What can you do today to start opening up your “snorkel?”


Is there forgiveness that God can help you give? Ask Him.


Are there “Skittles” stuck in there? Let them go.


Is it time for you to come to God so He can clear your heart out? It’s time. Come.


Friends, may you breathe freely from here on out and be filled with God’s love and mercies!


Shalom,

Namra

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