Holding the high ground?

My friend, may I ask you a question? When we choose to forgive those who hurt us, we take the high ground. But the key question is: How long will we purpose to keep it?

My friend, life’s a story, welcome to This Passing Day. I’m Mark Brunner.

I was walking on the back acreage of our property the other day and wandered up to Doggie Hill. This is the highest point at Beech Springs, overlooking the river valley below, and our house in the distance. It’s probably my favorite spot here because of its height and the view as well as something that’s hard to explain; I get a warm feeling of security there. I overlook and am not being overlooked. Looking over and down rather than up tends to decrease one’s sense of vulnerability. In that moment I was reminded of how the Union Army must have felt the day after their defeat outside of Gettysburg on July 2, 1864. They had been routed but had moved their tattered forces to the high ground overlooking yesterday’s battle. Holding the high ground took a great deal of the sting out of that initial defeat and instilled a sense of hope in what the next day might bring. As I stood atop that hill I felt like Union General George Meade as I looked out over the Kettle Moraine below me. “This is high ground,” I thought as I recalled Meade’s comment. “It’s a good place to be. Now, can we hold it?”

When we choose to forgive, especially our enemies, it’s like taking the high ground. There may have been a battle getting there, but it’s good to be there. The key question is, however: How long will you keep it?

Here’s a story. One New Year’s Eve at London’s Garrick Club, British dramatist Frederick Lonsdale was asked by Seymour Hicks to reconcile with a fellow member. The two had quarreled many years ago and never restored their friendship. “You must,” Hicks said to Lonsdale. “It is very unkind to be unfriendly at such a time. Go over now and wish him a happy New Year.” So Lonsdale crossed the room and spoke to his enemy. “I wish you a happy New Year,” he said, “but only one.” (Today in the Word, July 5, 1993.)

Lonsdale reserved the right to be angry when it was convenient for him to remind himself of Hick’s transgression. In that sense he took the high ground but never had any intention of holding it since the resources and effort that would be needed to invest in holding it may be tedious, even onerous. Nevertheless, just as General Meade wondered if it would be worth it to pay the price to hold his position, so you and I are daily tasked to do the same. Benjamin Franklin put it this way. “Doing an injury puts you below your enemy; revenging one makes you but even with him; forgiving it sets you above him.” Reconciliation is about holding the high ground, not just winning it. This is not what God asks of us. In fact it’s so important to him that he tells us that our worship is worthless without it. To stand above our enemy we must always be willing to hold the high ground of forgiveness. Otherwise we risk an endless war that may become convenient to our purpose to inflict a loss than it is to secure a peace.

We pray. Heavenly Father, thank you for your forgiveness and mercy to us as sinners. You took the high ground when you sent Jesus to die for our sins. Help us to to do the same when those who hurt us refuse to make peace. Forgive us when we aren’t willing to invest the time and personal resources into keeping the high ground of reconciliation. In Jesus name we pray. Amen!

Therefore my friend, do not worry about tomorrow, for tomorrow will worry for itself; each day has enough trouble of its own. (Matt 6:34) This Passing Day. May this passing day honor our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ and be a blessing to you and everyone you meet. Find a stranger and say hello. Don’t let another day pass without your day blessing someone else.

If you have a special prayer request, please send your request to “This Passing Day!” <markcbrunner@thispassingday.com> God bless you for Jesus sake.

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