While teaching at Yale, Henri Nouwen was affected by a paper submitted by a student named Timothy. His letter to Timothy included some thoughts about forgiveness.

For me, forgiveness has been the most life-giving experience of my life. When I discovered not only that my weakness was my humanity but also that my humanity was a forgiven humanity, I truly found my freedom.… Thus the experience of our humanity as a forgiven weakness leads us to the heart of God‘s love for us into the center of his forgiving presence in our life.

Love, Henri. pp. 40-41

I believe in grace. I believe that it is not within my power to save myself. Yet I still fail to believe it. I continue to think that if I live in a more perfect way that God will like me more. I decry the theory of works righteousness because the Bible does. But I tend to fall into times of believing that God‘s grace is based upon my performance. And yet it is ultimately true that the very reason God has such grace upon us is that we are incapable of the life that we would love to live for him. His perfection, his holiness, his transcendence place him out of our reach.

We continue to reach towards God. But always know that every person does so as someone who has great need of forgiveness. Yes, even the best among us. If it were not so we would spend our lives miserably trying to will ourselves into being better disciples and failing every time. Only when we glimpse God’s unfailing love, undeserved, flowing from Calvary, will we lay down our desire to be recognized for our achievements. Then we can fully embrace and rest in His love, given beyond merit, allowing us to live in ‘the center of His forgiving presence in our life.’


  1. Beautifully said John. I think all of us who follow Jesus often default to self sufficiency. But, God knows and loves us anyway.

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