Forgiven Flaws, Faux Pas, Fig Trees and Monkeys

“I tell you, her sins—and they are many—have been forgiven, so she has shown me much love.  But a person who is forgiven little shows only little love.”  Luke 7:47

Have you been forgiven a lot, or just a little?

As a child growing up, our family traveled from Houston, Texas to Van Nuys, California every other summer to spend time with my mother's side of the family.  We would stay in my grandparents' small two-bedroom, one bath home, built in the 1920's.  It was small in size, but it was big in love, and we all looked forward to the visit.  My Grandpa Cliburn had Parkinson's disease, yet he still went out each day to work in the yard.  My father took great pleasure in helping him.  And, my mother became a much-loved daughter again, enjoying a return to that most familiar and comfortable role of her own childhood.  My wonderful author uncle, Alan, lived in the home, and still does.  He entertained us with songs, games, and his timeless, treasured writings, often jumping around a corner to catch a candid photo.  

My mom would take me in the afternoons to get lime yogurt at the local grocery store while picking up little things we needed for our visit.

There was a giant, twisted old fig tree in the backyard of Grandma Tis's house.  My brother, sister and I would spend hours climbing in that tree, playing make-believe.  Once, we actually found a chimpanzee in the tree and wondered if our make-believe games had gone a little too far.  It reportedly escaped from a movie set nearby.

In the summer of 1976, the Cliburn family all gathered in the backyard, beneath the shady canopy of the old fig tree to celebrate each other and the August birthdays.  Grandma Tis and I had spent all morning picking lemons and making homemade lemonade for the party.  It happened to be my 10th birthday, and I was so excited to see aunts, uncles and cousins I rarely saw and loved so much.  

As the guests began to arrive, Grandma Tis sent me out with the pitcher of lemonade to fill the glasses.  I was so excited to pour the concoction we had worked hard to make.  But sadly, I spilled the entire pitcher all over the table, and instead of cleaning it up, I ran away to hide out of embarrassment.

Have you ever done that?  Have you ever run away, rather than confronting a mistake, an accident, or even a sin?

Spilling a pitcher of lemonade as a child is not a sin, but that small event taught me something very big.  My sweet Uncle Alan came and found me in my hiding place.  He wiped my tears and told me I was forgiven, that there was a fresh pitcher of lemonade on the table, and I didn't have to pour it if I didn't want to.  He told me there was a party going on, and that it just wasn't the same without me.

What love. 

Isn't that just like God?

God still finds me in my hiding place.  In fact, He has become my hiding place.  He wipes my tears and reminds me that He loves me, that life is a celebration—even when it's hard—and that the party is just not the same without me.

It's not the same without you, either.  Do you know that?

The smell of fig trees and the taste of lime yogurt and lemonade still take me back to that place in Van Nuys so long ago, and I remember the love.

May we remember, and may we celebrate God today—for all that He has done.  May we all know that we have been forgiven much that we might love God and others much.

And, may you have the best day you’ve ever had in your life.

Goodnight, Runners.


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