The Power to Forgive

Day 2 of 5 • This day’s reading


Keeping the Stream Pure

As founder of Summit Leaders, I take people on outdoor expeditions around the world. A few years ago, I took a team rafting through the Grand Canyon. Our adventure started about two hours north of Flagstaff, Arizona.

Where we started, the canyon is only a few hundred feet deep. The water is crystal clear with a nice green tint. You can see all the way to the bottom of the river. After a safety lesson, and a few basic paddling tips, we set out on our six-day journey deep into the canyon. About two miles into the trip our guide pointed to the right. “Looks like the Paria is running,” he said. “Say good-bye to the clear water.”

I looked ahead and saw a nasty stream of brown water flowing into the crystal-clear Colorado River. In no time, our nice, clear river was brown and milky, and it stayed that way for the rest of the six-day trip. That one tiny, muddy seasonal stream miles upriver turned the mighty Colorado River into a cloudy mess.

In today’s passage, King Solomon talks about the importance of diligently guarding or keeping your heart protected. Our hearts are meant to be pure and clear. But if we aren’t careful, hurt and bitterness can flow in and pollute the clear waters of our hearts.

When we don’t release hurt it turns into resentment. In both Spanish and French, the word sentir means to feel. When we re-sentir something we feel that emotion over and over. We relive the event. And resentment can have dire consequences in our souls. It’s like drinking from a polluted water source – it won’t go well.

But forgiveness is the filter that can clear out the pollution from hurt in our hearts.

When I lead teams into the outdoors, I always bring a top-of-the-line water purification filter. It removes pretty much anything in the water that can harm you. I’ve pumped water from stagnant streams and not gotten sick. Those filters are expensive, but I purchase a new one for every trip. The price is absolutely worth it to make sure the team doesn’t get hurt by unclean water. We sit around in a circle every night and take turns pumping pure water for the next day.

I wonder what could happen in our lives if we developed a daily habit of filtering out those offenses that can build up and taint the clear, flowing streams of our hearts. What if every evening we processed what happened to us through our own filter of forgiveness and decided to not let the sun go down on our anger?

Forgiveness can actually become a daily habit that keeps us free and clear from resentment.
It helps us keep the waters of our hearts flowing pure and clear so we can be a life-giving source to others.