Storming the Castle
I am not a hiker. I don’t buy gear at places with words like “mountain” and “equipment” and “co-op” in the title; where they sell ice picks and grappling hooks like they are useful for something other than storming an enemy castle. I see the outdoorsy types shopping with certainty as they pick up their multi-tools and propane camp stoves and dehydrated food packs with confidence. I see them and wonder how we live in the same city and have such vastly different expectations of the kind of day we might have. Some people expect mountains. I expect a computer screen and a cup of coffee that is always going cold. My childhood imagination is a little disappointed about this. Grappling hooks seemed like an essential bit of gear in my earliest days, just as quicksand seemed like a more serious and ubiquitous problem than it has actually turned out to be. Life as an adult is far more mundane. I don’t outfit myself for storming enemy strongholds and setting captives free. I buy facial moisturizer.
Sometimes I get a glimpse how different my life would look if I took God at His word.
Understanding flashes like white light on the crest of a wave that dazzles for a moment as water, light and perspective create a symmetry of brilliance; a divine ray of wisdom shining into the gloom of human understanding for a brief moment of beauty. It disappears as the wave subsides, but the memory of the light is burned unforgettable onto my retinas. One such revelation is that my childhood imaginations are closer to the truth than what my eyes can see. There is a dragon. There are enemy castles that need to be overthrown. There are high walls to scale. There are many captives to set free.
Not for nothing did the prophet Elisha pray for his servant who was overwhelmed at the size of the enemy forces arrayed against them, “Open his eyes, LORD, so that he may see,” (2 Kings 6:17) Our battle is not against flesh and blood and it rages all the time.
I do need a grappling hook after all.
Forgiveness is like a grappling hook. It is the line we throw up into the dark that finds purchase and is strong enough to allow us to climb over the impossible divide of being sinned against. It is a spiritual tool that we get from Jesus Himself, and we need to learn to throw it with accuracy. Fortunately, (or, unfortunately) there are no shortage of opportunities. We need to grow strong in the practice of scaling walls--we need to grow strong in forgiveness because this is our God-given tool to get behind the enemy’s walls and collapse his kingdom from within. God has given us these orders. He has also equipped us for the task. He commands us to forgive, and gives us His grace to accomplish it.
“Which is easier to say, ‘Your sins are forgiven,’ or to say, ‘Get up and walk,’?” (Matt. 9:5)
Forgiveness is a spiritual exchange and a testimony of hope that broken things: relationships, hearts, even bodies can be made whole--stronger, unconquerable through the grace of Jesus Christ working within us that which we could never manufacture on our own.
Un-forgiveness is nothing less than rebellion and idolatry; giving precedence to our own emotions and opinions over the command of God. We are the covert soldiers of Christ in an evil land. We cannot afford to hesitate and nurse our grievances. We can’t climb the walls if we don’t use the equipment that God made for us. And so here’s the inescapable fact--the dazzling flash of understanding that illuminates and blinds as the waves of circumstance crest into a parabola of conviction--forgiveness is an easy throw when you realize how much you need to be forgiven. This is the good news. We forgive because we know how desperately wicked and in need of forgiveness we are. We forgive because we’ve known the paralyzation of sin and longed for the healing of forgiveness. We have seen the collapsing of the enemy’s stronghold around our own lives when the Son of God scaled the fortress of the kingdom of darkness and urged us to get up and walk.
(This article was originally published in the Jan/Feb 2017 issue of live Magazine.)