Tag Archives: forgiveness

Like Spring [Poem by Mom]

Georgia vines cover our backyard like love covers a multitude of sins. At least that is the natural order of things—with the vines, as well as with true love.

We are slowly learning about southern biology. My wife’s daily devotional times are suffering thanks to the babbling birds boldly blaring their boom boxes behind our brick abode. I’m noticing—I think, I hope—that Georgia grass grows just a bit more gradually than Iowa varieties.

I might be wrong. Either way, I know that my love should look more like Iowa grass and Georgia vines, and that forgiveness should grow more quickly in wounds of my heart.

Mom talks about these things in the poem she shares this month. If you are struggling to forgive, or surprised by your own capacity to hate, then may her words give you fresh courage.

Mom’s poem is old—first written when I was only eight. (I recall the geological events she describes from the time, but was blissfully unaware as a boy of the concurrent ecclesiological disruptions motivating her poem.) Mom has written a new introduction to her old poem. But first, here is the poem. Enjoy!

Photo Credit: Dainis Matisons via Compfight cc
Photo Credit: Dainis Matisons via Compfight cc


How persistent Spring is,
Untiring in her zeal
To carpet all that’s barren,
To beautify and heal.

Even into gashes
That man has blasted out,
Peninsulas are greening
And tiny islands sprout.

How forgiving Spring is
Of winter’s wasting shocks;
Ferns trail her every footstep
And moss adorns the rocks.

Oh, if man would mellow,
Forgive as joyously,
And seek to heal old wound scars
As conscientiously.

—Elaine Gingrich, January 1982/1985. Published in Ontario Informer, 1985.

Ken and I have been marking Bible courses for prison inmates for over twenty years. The very first lesson in the first Gospel Echoes Team course asks the student to name the most forgiving person that he knows other than God. Another question I marked last night: “What have you observed in Jesus’ relationships that could help you get along better with others?” The inmate responded with “Forgiveness is key.”

Forgiveness! This theme appears again and again in the inmates’ responses and comments and prayer requests. “Pray that my family, my wife, my children will forgive me.” “ Pray that I can forgive myself.” “I am finding it easier to forgive those who have hurt me.” “Studying these courses is helping me to forgive others.”

One student had wanted his life to end but reading the Bible showed him that he could turn his life around. He asked forgiveness of God and his loved ones and was finally able to forgive his girlfriend who left him while he was in jail. Forgiveness is transformative.

We all know forgiveness is not essential only for prison inmates. The scars that I write about in this poem have nothing to do with crime or incarceration. Sadly many Christians live imprisoned far too long in the grips of unforgiveness and bitterness. No wonder the epistles command us over and over to be tenderhearted, to forgive as Christ forgave us, and to return good for evil.

“Like Spring” was written after a discouraging season in church life. Differing opinions on church affiliation had caused our beloved pastor to move on. A few members moved away. Ken wondered why he was building our new home. The images for the poem grew out of the road construction occurring that summer past our property. The cottage trail winding between the northern lakes was redirected, blasted through the rocky hill between our circle drive. Several times rock-drilling and blasting sent us out of our trailer home to safety, and the dust and rumble of huge dump trucks and power shovels entertained my three young sons who had a front rock seat to all the action.

It was the next spring, as I walked and prayed, that I was amazed to see how soon the barren disturbed patches of earth and crevices in the rocks were again sprouting with new growth and green beauty. But then, of course, Christ is the giver of life, of new life, in nature and in human hearts. And God is love and has called us to love and forgive as He does, to join Him in the ministry of reconciliation. I think of a simple poem I wrote in my teens: “Hating Those Who Hate.”


The times when I most see the need
To love mankind,
I feel like driving this great truth
Into man’s mind.

The passion of this growing lack
Of love grips me.
I see it is our foremost great

And yet the times my being throbs
With pain at hate
Is when my heart most tends to hate
Those men who hate.

You cannot hope to help someone
You do not love—
The only answer to this need
Comes from above.

Yes, God’s way and nature’s way is better.

—Elaine Gingrich, May 26, 2016

For the rest of the poems in this monthly series, see here.

And if you enjoyed this poem, leave a comment here for Mom, or send her an email at MomsEmailAddressImage.php.  Thanks!

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A Traitor Comes to the Table [Poem by Mom]

Someday, we will feast in radiance at the marriage supper of the Lamb (Rev. 19:6-8)! Until then we often come to the table in clothes that are torn or stained. But we come hungry, nonetheless, needing the nourishment that is offered at the Lord’s Supper.

When we come to the table with stained clothes, and surrounded by others who do not yet shine as they ought, our participation must be an act of repentance and faith. It brings sorrow as well as humble gratitude. These emotions are shared yet deeply personal. My mother expresses some of these emotions in the following poem.

God bless you as you read—and as you eat of Christ’s flesh and drink of his blood. He can wash your garments anew as you partake of his feast (1 John 1:9).

Before Jesus died, He prayed that we who believe in Him might all be one. He left us a memorial service with emblems that typify unity and oneness. But sadly his followers have experienced disunity and division for centuries. How do we approach His table when our local body is not experiencing the communion of heart that we long for or when members have been torn away from fellowship?

I have felt betrayed at times as part of the body of Christ. I have come to the Communion table with a broken heart. But it is good for me to remember the first Lord’s Supper and what happened that night. That was the night that Jesus was betrayed into the hands of sinners—betrayed all the way to the cross. It is His body that is broken again and again when His church on earth does not experience peace. And most personally—it is crucial for me to focus on the humbling truth that it was my sins that sent Jesus to the cross. Even if there had been no other sinners to be saved, my sins were great enough to demand a Calvary, and Jesus’ love was great enough that He would have died for love of me alone.

It is my own heart I examine as I approach the table. It is my own betrayal of Christ that I acknowledge, and my own gratitude for His forgiving sacrifice that I celebrate.

–Elaine Gingrich, November 13, 2015


The very night He was betrayed
Our Lord took bread and wine–
These earthy emblems, common food,
Embodied the divine.

A perfect body, perfect life
Was given to be broken.
With longing He embraced the cross
Where His love would be spoken.

The hand of him who will betray
Is with me on the table.
He hands the bread to me to eat!
“Oh Lord, I am not able!”

My sins betrayed the Holy One
To sacrificial death.
Forgiveness flowed from wounds and words
Until His dying breath.

A living bread, a bleeding bread.
My flesh gives life to you.
I, the betrayer, take and eat
And find His offer true.

—Elaine Gingrich, November 18, 2007, Communion Sunday

For the rest of the poems in this monthly series, see here.

And if you enjoyed this poem, leave a comment here for Mom, or send her an email at MomsEmailAddressImage.php.  Thanks!

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Jesus in the Room [Poem by Mom]

We all need more love than we deserve. And it is undeserved love that transforms us into who we should be.

It is love that frees us to acknowledge sin, both ours and others. And it is love that frees us from sin and from its shadow, shame.

Here is a new poem from Mom about the transforming power of Jesus’ loving presence. I’ll let Mom explain how the poem came to be.

Many books, blogs and posts today deal with the issues of sexual abuse and sexual sin in various forms. Questions of blame, shame and the process to freedom abound. Two things, it seems to me, are certain. We are all sinners in need of Christ’s forgiveness and cleansing; and everyone, no matter how heinous his sin or how deep his wounds, needs the compassion of Christians and the biblical message of truth and deliverance. If only we could always respond as Jesus would!

These thoughts framed my recent devotional reading of Luke 7:36-50, the account of the “woman who was a sinner,” who dared to enter a Pharisee’s house because she heard Jesus was there. What had she heard from Jesus’ lips that propelled her into a home where she was unwelcome, that braced her to face the scorn of the guests, and gave her the courage to approach the holy God-man? How I longed to glimpse just for a moment how Christ’s deity, veiled in humanity, expressed itself.

As I read, I seemed to slip in beside her, to see Jesus’ form lying there, to hear His quiet voice. The woman knew, without seeing His face, that He knew she was there. Just for a moment I was at her side experiencing the physical nearness of Jesus; the power of His words of clarity and compassion, able to convict and to protect; the magnetism of His readiness to deliver and forgive. His presence was like a fortress in a room full of enemies.

Just for a moment… and then I was only seeing my open Bible, but moved deeply and longing to express what I had felt when I was in the room with Jesus. Robert J. Morgan says that “the art of meditating on Scripture involves using one’s imagination.” He records how the beloved hymn “In the Garden” was written by C. Austin Miles from a vision he experienced while reading John 20. My sensation was far too brief to be labelled a vision and the poem I have written is not a hymn. But I pray this poem will bring you for a moment into the presence of Jesus, to a place of listening and hearing, so that His Word and Spirit can live through you to a needy world.

—Elaine Gingrich, September 14, 2015

 Luke 7:36-50

I slip into the dining hall,
An uninvited guest.
I heard he is reclining here—
The object of my quest.

The host disdains me—only loves
Those who return in kind.
His righteousness gives me no hope,
Blind leader of the blind.

How dare I touch this holy man
With my sin-scalding hands?
But oh, his voice is like a bell
Across interior lands.

It tolls each conscience in the room.
My tears are hot with pain.
His feet accept my ministry.
He shares in my disdain.

This man looks deep into my eyes
As father would to child,
While others only see my form,
Voluptuous but defiled.

His eyes burn as he names my sin,
Names but does not condemn.
My sin was great, but so my love!
And now he points at them.

I’m not the only sinner here.
His voice a sheltering arm
Around the shoulders of my guilt
Addresses those who harm.

He speaks forgiveness to my shame.
His voice is like a breeze
That blows the perfume of my love
To others on their knees.

Oh Jesus, are You in this room?
I bring my oil and tears.
By faith I hear forgiveness speak
Across two thousand years.

Your voice pours ointment on our wounds,
Commands our fears to flee.
Oh speak your hope into this room
Oh speak and set us free.

—Elaine Gingrich, September 5, 2015

For the rest of the poems in this monthly series, see here.

And if you enjoyed this poem (and want to encourage Mom to keep writing new ones!), leave a comment here for Mom, or send her an email at MomsEmailAddressImage.php.  Thanks!

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