Early one morning a young man knocked on the door of a parsonage in a small town in Wisconsin. His shoulder were sloped downward as if his stooped bearing might cause one’s eyes to slip off his form and spill into a world other than his own.
It was early March and winter’s presence withered in fine lines of blowing snow along the streets, lingering like skeletal fingers in a final but futile grasp for survival.
Moments later, the pastor opened the door. Neatly dressed, he offered a warm smile to the visitor.
“Ah, Tim, I see you found the place.” He extended his hand. “I’ve just made some coffee. Come in please, I want to finish our conversation from the other night at the church.”
Tim took the offered hand and followed the pastor into his office to sit across from him in an identical wing chair flanking a window. Still wearing his worn navy pea jacket, he looked directly into the pastor’s face. “I’ve been thinking, about what you said, about forgiveness.”
The pastor handed him a mug of coffee. “And, what are your thoughts?”
Tim accepted the mug, cupping it with his hands, red and chaffed from the outside winds. “Thank-you, …?”
“Wayne, call me, Wayne, please.”
“Thank-you, Wayne.” He set the mug down on an end table to pull a new Bible from the pocket of his jacket. “I’ve been reading from this Bible you gave me. Especially the scriptures about forgiveness.”
“Yes, go on.”
“It says God has removed our sins from us a far as the east is from the west. That he will remember them no more.”
Smiling, Wayne responded. “From the Psalms and Hebrews. You have been busy.”
Tim looked down into the Bible. “Is it true?”
“At church last Sunday, you accepted Christ into your heart as your Lord and Savior. Because of this, yes, it is true. It is one reason the New Testament is called the Gospel – Gospel means Good News. Too good in fact for some to ever believe.”
“But, I…I don’t feel it.” He kept his eyes diverted, softened his voice. “I’ve done some pretty miserable things…”
Wayne raised a hand. “We all have, Tim, and once we confess them, that is where our faith comes in – to believe what the Bible tells us about God.”
Tim looked up into the pastor’s eyes. “Do you ever hear from God, you know, hear him telling you, yes I’ve forgiven you?”
Wayne set his coffee down. “You’re struggling with guilt, aren’t you?”
“Like I said, I’ve done some pretty miserable things.”
“Tim, listen to me. The very first time you prayed to God, he was listening. And, he was faithful to forgive and forget your sins, just as it says in the Bible. You have to believe that. He loves you and doesn’t want you walking around burdened with guilt and condemnation.
“For him it’s a done deal. You’re the one resisting this truth. And, every time you bring up a past forgiven sin, I can just picture God scratching his head, wondering: Gee, is this something new? Did I miss something here?”
Tim smiled at this. “Being omnipotent, I guess that would be pretty hard for him to do.”
“Impossible, in fact.”
Tim seemed to relax and picked his coffee back up. “So, have you ever, you know, heard from God?”
“We each hear from him in our own ways. And, yes I’ve heard from him, many times.”
“How? What did he say?”
“The first time was when I decided to become a pastor. I was struggling with a lot of the same questions you’re struggling with now – about old transgressions I kept bringing before him.”
“And, his reply was a simple three letter word. Succinct and in a way, showed me God also has a wonderful sense of humor.”
“Just one word?”
“That was all it took.”
“What was it.?”
Wayne leaned forward. “That, my friend, is what I’m praying is something you’ll hear from him personally.”
Two weeks later, following a Sunday service, Wayne greeted Tim on the steps of his church. Tim’s countenance seemed transformed.
“I’m taking you heard from God, Tim.”
“I did, Wayne; and thank-you.” He shook his hand warmly.
“And I can probably guess what he said.”
Tim beamed. “You probably can. When I brought up my past, he answered with what I’m thinking is the same answer he gave you.” He leaned forward, smiling. “A simple three letter word: "Huh?"'
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