A 40 Year Journey learning FORGIVENESS.

  • June 8, 1972 Charleston, WV Graduation Day for George Washington High School

Later the same day these photos were taken with my mom & dad, I was among hundreds of fellow GW graduates receiving our diplomas. As I’ve written this piece, I’ve realized with some irony that my dad was 40 years old the day I graduated.

After some growing up “trials” as fellow students, we made it!

We had our dreams and fears, but mostly we all had a measure of HOPE for the future.

  • Unknown to me that day, and millions of others around the world for some time, was the atrocity playing out for a little girl in North Vietnam, 9 year old Kim Phuc. She definitely was NOT experiencing HOPE that day as the napalm bomb burned her clothes off and her skin away. The terrible phrase attached to her life was “Napalm Girl”. Her story is told here: (The Long Road to Forgiveness)

Her world famous photo was taken (AP photographer Nick Ut) as she fled from a napalm bomb attack in Vietnam, a turning point in the era of that horrific war. Her story, in the link above, is compelling in its forgiveness attributes. That forgiveness set her free to live with hope. One day while visiting a library years after the attack she “found a Bible.For the first time I started believing my life had a plan.”, she has said.

40 years, more than once, has proven that HOPE often is realized through times of strife being overcome by the key of forgiveness. Forgiveness may need to be of ourselves for actions, inaction, or failure; or forgiveness may need to be towards others’ actions, even atrocities, against us. It can even be as simple, and difficult, as not harboring resentment towards God for things that happen like disasters in life of many forms.

Lives have changed or do change dramatically over 40 years.

  1. I’ll likely attend a Graduation Reunion later this summer. My dad, who was 40 when I graduated, is now gone on to heaven. I lived my life in the grace of forgiveness on many fronts yielding HOPE.
  2. You can see in the story that Kim Phuc has lived out HOPE. (The photographer, Nick Ut, received a Pulitzer Prize for the photo.) Forgiveness was the key that unlocked her door to HOPE.
  3. Moses lived past his failure to allow God to use him to change the course of history. Moses really understood forgiveness in big ways. And he was a way God brought HOPE to millions.

Many people on this earth have little knowledge of HOPE. You do have some knowledge of HOPE, though. Or, you certainly can know it.

How will we catalyze HOPE for ourselves and others? Let’s try beginning with the key of FORGIVENESS. Accepting Christ’s forgiveness for ourselves is the best place to begin.

Luke 6:27-28 “But I say to you who hear, Love your enemies, do good to those who hate you, bless those who curse you, pray for those who abuse you.”

Let us know how forgiveness has or will unlock your doors of HOPE!

Blessings! JD

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