“But when Christ had offered for all time a single sacrifice for sins, he sat down at the right hand of God,”—Hebrews 10:12 (ESV)
Louis and Aine first met in Kindergarten aged 5 and 6 respectively.
They quickly struck a chord, becoming close friends regardless of their social background; Aine hailed from an affluent family while Louis’s was an African middle-class. This however didn’t stop their friendship.
They went on to primary, secondary, high School and were both finally admitted to study Land Economics at Makerere University. That is where Louis met Cleopatra, a beautiful light skinned girl studying to become a Geologist. He loved to call her Cleo.
Louis and Cleo had a colourful affair for the three years while at Makerere University until what would be the worst day in Louis’s life came: his best friend Aine had proposed to Cleo (and she had said yes!) He was poised to marry her a week to their graduation in January.
Louis disappeared from home and he didn’t even graduate—he was heartbroken. He hated himself, Cleo and his long-time best friend, Aine. He loathed everything that reminded him Cleo, even the scents, colours and stories.
Amidst his loathing, he dusted off an old bible in the small hotel room he was staying. He opened it to 1 John 4 and slid down to verse 10 which says: “In this is love, not that we have loved God but that he loved us and sent his Son to be the propitiation for our sins.” He read it again, and again and again. All that while he was thinking about how the people he called friends could stab him in the back and how God had moved, even amidst his hate, to love him.
Convinced he was. As he continued to dig into the scriptures, he encountered a God drenched in love, the love that ran red. This God always seemed to return good for evil. Louis’s heart was illuminated and the heaviness of hate started to go away each passing day. That is when he came to the faith.
Seven years later, he received a phone call from Cleo telling him that Aine had been in an accident. Without waiting, he rushed to hospital. On seeing his now bearded face, Aine broke down in tears as Louis ran down his bed to hold his right hand.
Without hesitation, Aine said to Louis just three words: “I am sorry.”
“You were my brother”, Aine continued, “these seven years have been the worst in my whole, will you please forgive me. I have learnt my lesson.” All this while Louis was looking at Aine’s face dripping with tears. Tears of repentance.
Then Louis said something. He told Aine that he had become a Christian during his breakdown and that the God he met saved him from hate. “I forgave you seven years ago”, Louis said. And he hugged his bedridden friend.
How could Aine know that he needed forgiveness if he didn’t say it? How could he show his desperation for forgiveness if he didn’t ask? He had been forgiven seven years earlier but this forgiveness became true for him only when he asked.
It’s true that God forgave our sins once on the cross, all of them past, present and future are covered in that one act of forgiveness. The problem is not God’s forgiveness but us—we have a hard time believing that God will never withhold his forgiveness.
Therefore, when we repent, we show our need for God’s free grace. Forgiveness is available for all but it’s only effective for those who really need it, and repentance is how we show our need every day.