Saturday, January 5, 2013

Paula Hrbacek: A Someday Thing

Dear Readers,

Since I took on the challenge of daily blogging for this month, I have invited a variety of folks to write guest blogs on their experiences with faith. Today, I am publishing the first of the guest blogs. Tomorrow, I will post a blog authored by me.

* * * *

When our children were young, we joined a local pool each summer.  It was owned by people in the neighborhood, and was rather small, but we enjoyed the swimming lessons and parties they hosted.  It cost $300 for three months of pleasure.
            Then the pool went bankrupt in July and closed one month early.  We didn’t get everything we had paid for, and felt ripped off.
            My husband said we should sue, and while I felt the same emotion, I knew that just wasn’t going to work.  The owners were just normal people like us.  We couldn’t take food off their table.
            So, instead, I dumped my feelings on God in prayer.  I told him I just needed someone to vent on, and if he would just let me have my say, I would leave it up to Him about what to do.  Then, I told him how I felt.  They owed me a hundred dollars.
            A few weeks later, my husband woke up one Saturday morning, and said something you will never hear him say again.  “Let’s go garage saleing.”  We headed out, and spent the morning looking around.  Finally, we made it to a sale that had an attic fan, still in the box, brand new.
            I had a secret desire for an attic fan.  There were days when it would be really nice.  I had priced them at the hardware store, and they ran about $150.  That was a bit much for the budget, so I didn’t ask for one.  It was a “someday thing.” 
The man who owned our house before us had made the hole, with the intent of putting in a fan “someday”. These people had bought a fan, but never got around to making a hole.  I saw the fan, and knew that “someday” had finally arrived.
We got the fan for $20.  As we were walking away, I asked my husband if he recognized the people who sold it to us.  They were stock holders in the pool.  They were the people that owed us $100.  God had found a way to even the score, and make things fair.
Some people think “vengeance is mine!” is an angry statement.  I believe that it is a statement of ownership; that if we let God even the score, he will do a better job of it than we can.

About the Author:
Paula Hrbacek is a graduate of the University of Missouri with degrees in Journalism and Art, and from Pensacola Junior College with certification in elementary education. She's the author of five books, including “Stars Shine After Dark”,  a sweet love story with mild love scenes and an underlying Christian message that all things are possible with faith, hope, and courage. ISBN 0-595-17387-X, available from Amazon and B&N as a paperback, Kindle and Nook, and “Day Camp In Hawaii”, a complete day camp program with original songs, skits, games, sports, crafts, art, geology, dance and other activities for grades 1-6. The program can be adapted for any type of summer camp, day camp, vacation Bible school, or summer school program. ISBN 9781475214406, available in paperback, Nook and Kindle. 
Paula also writes two columns for The Examiner, a free online newspaper.  Her children’s arts and crafts column offers art lesson plans and activities for youth groups and after school care programs.  Her book review column features a variety of wholesome and inspirational fiction and nonfiction works.


  1. Great post! Thank you for the simpleness of it. You just helped my heart heal a little bit.

  2. Most often the score is never even and whoever caused the hurt is not repentant. I believe that waiting for God to even the score is not the best approach but rather try to forgive and leave it in God's hands regardless of whether it is made right or not. This is what grace is about and it can be very difficult to forgive when it is not made right and there is no repentance but we should try.

    1. Your belief that 'waiting for God to even the score isn't the best approach' to dealing with unrepentant folks is wrongheaded. Remember that real grace can only be applied to the guilty. Trying to forgive those who don't care that they hurt you is a distortion of justice and grace.

      By all means, have limitless grace for those who seek forgiveness (just like God in Christ). And also let vengeance belong to the Lord who knows how to repay. That's not only biblical but it's the only way to have peace before the wrath of God can correct all wrongs.

    2. I believe you are wrong. When people repent and things are made right, grace and forgiveness is no longer required as the wrong has been corrected. No more wrong no forgiveness needed as the wrong has been made right. Reserving forgiveness for the limited few that recognize their wrong and repent is not biblical.

      Jesus said to love your enemies and apostle Paul said that Love "keeps no record of being wronged". Where does that require repentance? Enemies rarely repent yet you and I are asked to love them anyway.

      When you face judgment day are you asking that God give you grace for those sins, each and every sin, that you remembered to repent for? Are you sure you did not miss one?

      Many people that have left the FOC church been hurt badly, much more than I have. Those wrongs may never be righted and those who have caused hurt may never be sorry, either through ignorance or the belief that they are right. By saying it is "wrongheaded" and that "trying to forgive those who don't care that they hurt you is a distortion of justice and grace" is very bad advice and is also shortsighted.

      This implies that they should not forgive until repentance comes, and it may never come, so what then? Stay angry, bitter, hurt and not forgive? Is that what you are saying? If so you are wrong, Paul.

      Complete forgiveness without repentance is extremely difficult and not always possible, but try. For the sake of peace, try. Give grace and forgiveness to those who do not deserve it just like God has given you grace and forgiveness when you did not deserve it. You and I will both fall short of the glory of God in spite of our best attempts to repent and be sorry for our sins.

    3. I wish I could persuade you to think biblically about these things. What is 'bad and shortsighted' are notions of justice and mercy that are man-centered and theoretical. Your counsel should be rejected in favor of the word of God.

      Staying 'angry and bitter' isn't an option if you know the Righteous Judge of all the earth. We can be freed of every impulse to hate with such comfort.

      Remember, there is nothing to 'forgive' if the offender doesn't seek repentance by going to the offended party, confessing, applying restitution (if necessary) to satisfy what was wronged. The perfect son of God said we should have endless mercy for those who return to us afterward after sinning, repenting (Luke 17:3-4). Your version of this makes a mockery of justice towards the victim and asks them to do what God Himself will not do for unrepentant sinners.

      No one will ever enter the Kingdom of God without real repentance. So you cannot say that grace, although absolutely free because of Jesus' merit and righteousness, comes to anyone who walks in senseless rebellion.

      If there is no real justice then there can be no real grace. Grace is for the guilty, which is to say that those who know their crimes and seek the mercy of the offended (though they deserve none) are able to receive this grace. Otherwise, we leave vengeance to the Lord and take no wrath into our own hands - trusting in His final judgment to correct all wrongs.

      This is not only biblical and true, but it is also the only way a victim can move on with real peace, knowing that they don't have to inflict payback and that their pain is not forgotten before the Almighty Judge.

    4. Just because I do not agree with you does not mean this is not biblical. It is not possible to make a mockery of justice as you and I have no part in applying judgment to sinners. That is reserved for God.

      By not forgiving the unrepentant means you will be angry and bitter. If those are not options that that is a big part of what forgiveness is.

      I figured you would quote the verse in Luke where it says to forgive if they repent and fail to quote the books of the bible where it is asked of us to forgive even without repentance.

      Asking for people to offer the proper repentance and alms to obtain forgiveness is old testament model. This does not discount the importance of repentance before God, and does not make a mockery of justice which is reserved for God. From the Lord's prayer

      'and forgive us our sins, as we have forgiven those who sin against us."

      It does not say to forgive those who have repented but to forgive those who sin against us.

    5. Anonymous (and mistaken), you must believe that you are more gracious and Christlike than Paul the Apostle, who said this:

      "Alexander the coppersmith did me much harm. May the Lord repay him according to his works." 2 Timothy 4:14

      What an unforgiving wretch Paul must be! Doesn't he know that there's no justice in the kingdom of God - only compulsory 'forgiveness' to all who harm you? Poor Paul, right?

      Hardly. It is you who are mistaken. Paul was not 'bitter and angry' by trusting in God's justice in this specific harm (where the offender cares not to repent). Paul was trusting in God and not allowing the harm to inspire vengeance of his own. Paul knows that every sin will be either punished on the cross - or for eternity upon the unrepentant. The justice of the Holy One of Israel demands it.

      You obviously have no category in your theology for how to hope in God righting the wrongs committed. Just admit that you are not comfortable with 'hoping in God's final justice over unrepentant sinners' (unlike Paul the Apostle) so that others who read this can be advised.

    6. Good point. How about those who were at the foot of the the cross who hung Jesus on the cross. How did Jesus pray to the father. Forgive them father for they know not for what they do. I think this show also how we are to be like Jesus. So what is one to do? Are the two accounts conflicting? Is it possible that Paul's account was maybe to warn the people on this mans deeds, to maybe becareful around him? I think what the earlier poster was trying to say is. It would be better to forgive others for their actions. Better to forgive more than to little. Just a thought

    7. Anonymous (and mistaken), while it's good that you acknowledge at least one good point so far, I do feel that you are ignoring the implications of your faulty belief. Your belief pits you against the word of God, and that will result in misery.

      This back/forth began when I sought to correct your wrongheaded comments against hoping in the justice of God's wrath against unrepentant sinners. You were wrong then and I'm afraid you still are playing games.

      After all that you've said, it still stands that you have no category in your theology for how to hope in God righting the wrongs committed. Hopefully, it is mere pride that is preventing you from yielding here but you personally understand this (?).

      For what it's worth, let me say that being 'biblical' doesn't mean seasoning your beliefs with some scripture here and there. It means accepting the whole without redacting the uncomfortable parts. It means letting the implications stand even if I cannot seem to put all of the parts together. Let God be true and every man a liar (Romans 3:4).

    8. You misquote the bible by adding the word "may". By adding the word "may" you make it sound as if apostle Paul was hoping and desiring judgment. You make it sound as if Paul rejoiced in the fact that God would judge that man. By saying my grace is greater than Paul's because Paul would not forgive that non repentant person is absurd and offensive.

      2 Timothy 4:14 Alexander the coppersmith did me much harm, but the Lord will judge him for what he has done.

    9. Anonymous (and mistaken), you are choosing to be offended instead of receiving correction. Perhaps you don't know or approve of the fact that Christians are called to suffer, but we have true consolation in the final justice of Almighty God at the judgment on the last day. If this offends you, just say it plainly instead of playing games.

      And you are grasping at straws by seeking to adjust the mood of the verb in the Timothy passage I cited. In the original greek, the verb there is in the optative mood. You can search and learn that it indicates a wish or a hope in the verbal action. So the word translated in english as 'repay' is not a demand or promise but a request in hope.

      Even if the verbal idea there was future ('will repay' instead of 'may He repay') it still doesn't change the essential meaning that Paul knows and takes comfort in his enemies being repaid by God in justice, and nor does it excuse your lack of faith in God's justice as a relief to hurt saints.

      The author of this blog post was correct in releasing the hurt into God's mighty hands, and you are wrong. Don't let your pride prevent you from repenting from being wrongheaded.

    10. It seems pretty simple. The English bible is not good enough for you so you add the word "may" so that it better fits the point you are trying to make. You did so in the attempt to mislead. If it makes no difference why did you add it? You added it because it changes the meaning to better fit your point that forgiveness is conditional in your opinion.

      You are asking people here to reject the bible they have and use your version where you add words to change meaning. So much like the FOC where it is theology first and then look to fit the bible into your theology.

      You say that I should have faith or feel good that unrepentant sinners are condemned thereby taking comfort when I have been wronged because God will punish them. You have simply built a belief around a single verse that you have modified to fit your own purposes. You did modify it and that is undeniable. That was dishonest.

      You believe I am wrongheaded by being too forgiving. You believe I should repent from being too forgiving. Even if you were right where in the bible do you find excess forgiveness to be a sin? You are suffering from pride because you believe you have the judgment sufficient to decide who is worthy and deserving of your forgiveness then reserve your forgiveness just for them.

      There is no pride in offering forgiveness to those who neither want nor deserve it. Quite the opposite. This does not affect God's judgment reserved for them. We are supposed to pray for them. There is pride however in reserving forgiveness just for those who deserve it.

      There is not much point debating this with you here for two reasons. One is you are willing to post bible verses as quotes when in fact you have changed it. Then you go into linguistic gymnastics to justify it. Two is that I get the feeling that you are decidedly hyper-Calvinist in your belief although I could be wrong about that. If you are, that is one thing you have in common with the FOC.

    11. Since the 'debate' is over now, I hope other readers will agree with Paula Hrbacek, who wisely said: "Some people think “vengeance is mine!” is an angry statement. I believe that it is a statement of ownership; that if we let God even the score, he will do a better job of it than we can."


  3. lovely reminder that we should work to let go of our anger and resentment and let God work it out.


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