Forgiven

A crowd of men push and shove me outside, tearing at my clothes, slapping my head. Their deep voices swirl around me from every direction, angry and taunting. The dark tone rumbles at me, thirsty for my blood.

I try to wrap my half-dressed body with my shawl to preserve what little modesty I have left. The suddenness of being discovered in the bed of my lover has not allowed me even time to think, but I know that condemnation will have its cruel way.

My heart races and chugs, pounding against my rib cage, pleading to jump out of my chest and run far away.

Clouds of dust boil about our feet as the mob rolls forward to the temple. The many sets of dusty sandals rush in unison, stomping like a judge wielding a gavel.

“Guilty!” The scribes scream out.

“Condemned!” The Pharisees spit out the word.

Hope has spread its wings and flown away. Hatred settles on me, like a buzzard taking up permanent residence.

The swells of their roaring deafen me.The roughness of their righteous indignation drown me.

Their hands throw me forward. My shoulder scrapes the uneven rocks first, tearing at my flesh. The jolt smacks my side and continues cutting down my leg.

I reach out to stop the momentum, but my hand is crushed by a sandaled foot. I lay my head down and watch the dirt and my blood mingle together on the ground.

My head has become a heavy melon. I cannot see through the black veil of my mangled hair.

My heart wrings itself dry of tears. Regret consumes me as I surrender to their hands. My guilt waits for the sharp sting of justice, ushering death. I brace myself for the pounding of the rocks, which I know will follow.

Seconds pass. Nothing.

Voices raise poignant questions through the air. “The Law of Moses says to stone her . . . what do you say?”

I inhale another weak breath through my mouth, pressed hard into the dirt.

I hear a voice, full of authority. “Let him who is without sin cast the first stone.”

Silence.

Where are the stones that should be crushing my head? Are they planning something more painful? What are they doing? My entire body throbs.

Stones begin sounding as they fall to the earth.

I cringe and gasp for my last breath.

Still nothing.

Now I feel the ground vibrate with sandaled footsteps. I hear the creak of leather coming closer and can discern the outline of a man’s foot.

I raise my heavy head up enough to peer at him through my hair. My eyes focus. Surprise jolts through me as I look into his face. I know this man.

Liquid love oozes from his chocolate eyes. Compassion flows from his smile. Holiness bathes his being, making me even more ashamed of myself. How can he look on me—an adulteress? I am not worthy of his attention.

He speaks to me. “Woman, where are they?”

I push up a little, looking around for the first time. I’m outside the temple, and the men have disappeared. Only He is before me.

He continues to question me. “Did no one condemn you?”

“No, Lord.” I speak with shock in my voice, still not comprehending what has happened.

“Neither do I condemn you. Go your way and sin no more.”

He pulls me to my feet. The touch of His hand electrifies my entire body. All my pain dissolves and I am bathed in total peace. My torn flesh is now whole.

He turns and walks inside the temple. I watch him with a clean heart, washed and dressed in the newness of gratitude and hope. Yes, I will sin no more. I am overcome, amazed that I am alive.

I begin to step toward home, when I see writing on the ground. I look down as I walk past words written in the dirt. I stop to read them.

FORGIVEN.

I will never be the same.

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John 8:1-11

Dream Again

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By Karen

Remember when you were a young child, beginning life’s journey full of hopes and dreams for the future?

Along the way, you lost your precious dreams as you traveled down the highway of life. Perhaps someone stole them, so you mourned their loss and believed they were gone forever. Or an unexpected accident trampled them, so you discarded them as unsalvageable. You tended the broken pieces in your heart by burying those dreams deep inside…hidden, locked, the key thrown away, never again to see the light of day.

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Cinderella must have felt the same way at midnight—her stagecoach turned back into a pumpkin, her ball gown back into rags, her glass slipper lost. Reality screamed that her dreams of marrying the prince were lies.

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When her fairy godmother had worked magic so that she could attend the ball, Cinderella’s heart was bellowing out Happy Days are Here Again, but at midnight, she was singing a different tune.

“That fairytale? Dreams don’t really come true. I. Will. Never. Be. A. Fool. Again.” 

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It was back to scrubbing floors and waiting on her stepmother and stepsisters.Cinderella didn’t know which way to turn…or how to find her way back to that road where she and her dreams had last walked together.

But in a surprising turn of events, her lottery ticket to princess-hood did come up a winner–just not the way she had foreseen.

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Here’s the truth: dreams do become reality. It is the invisible filigreed needle and thread that hope uses to weave the fabric of your future. Its road is easy to find…and to find again if you are currently on a detour. All you have to do is believe in the Lord and trust Him to bring it to pass.

Did you know that Jesus’ followers also experienced broken dreams after His crucifixion and burial? Although Jesus had plainly told them what was about to happen to Him, they still didn’t understand. Although they had witnessed Him perform many miracles and had even performed some themselves, they were about to be part of the fulfillment of the greatest dream of all time—a dream that was coming to pass differently than they had expected.

What was their dream?

The Jews had been living under the oppressive political tyranny of the Romans during this time in history. They believed from Scripture that their Messiah would physically come to bring deliverance and set up His kingdom on earth…and the disciples and fellow believers knew that Jesus was that One.

The mistake, however, was their lack of understanding about God’s timing. When Jesus was crucified, all their hopes and dreams of freedom from Roman tyranny died with their Messiah on the cross. In their deep sorrow, all they could ask was why? Their dreams lay at the foot of the Cross, shattered in jagged shards.

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But Jesus didn’t leave them without an answer. On the third day after His crucifixion, there had been some reports among the disciples that Jesus was alive, but no one had yet seen Him.

Two disciples decided to get away from it all and walk to Emmaeus. On the way, Jesus appeared to them, but unrecognized. It didn’t take much prompting before they were pouring out their hearts to this traveler about their broken dreams.

Then Jesus began teaching out of the Scriptures about Himself, beginning with Moses and the prophets, explaining why the Messiah had to suffer and then enter into His glory. He was reaching into their hearts, gathering those broken pieces, and mending them by answering their whys.

At Emmaeus, they pressed the traveler to stay with them. The moment Jesus said a prayer over the bread, the blinders fell off and they recognized his true identity. Then their Lord suddenly disappeared…but He was alive—just like He said!

Their despair turned to overflowing joy as they streaked the seven miles back to Jerusalem to announce it to the other disciples. Along the way, they analyzed what had just happened. “Didn’t our hearts burn within us as He talked with us on the road and explained the Scriptures to us?” (Luke 24:32, NLT).

Their dreams were coming true—just not the way they had envisioned.

His kingdom is still coming in the future, but first the perfect lamb had to sacrifice His life, shed His blood, and be resurrected so that mankind could be saved through Him. His kingdom will be established when He comes to earth the second time, and all believers are looking forward to that day.

On this Easter of 2015, my prayer for you is that you will not only find Jesus on your road of life, but especially that He will resurrect your broken or lost dreams buried deep inside your heart. Even when you feel discouraged, look to Jesus and remember to walk in faith. Rest patiently in the knowledge that He is with you on your journey and will never leave you nor forsake you.

Yes, He will surely bring your dreams to pass…His way…in His timing.

“For I know the plans I have for you, for good and not for evil, to give you a future and a hope” (Jer. 29:11, NASB).

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