Forgiveness Fridays: If we had just one day… by Debbie Duncan

Debbie Duncan asks some searching questions, all brought to her mind when her daughter spotted a dragonfly over the water. What would you do if you had just one day to live?

Recently on one of our recent hot, summery days we decided to escape the heat of the house and head to a place by water.[1] As we walked by the river we stopped and saw a colourful shimmering dragonfly. My daughter said, “Adult dragonflies only live one day. What would you do if you just had one day”?

Her question got me thinking. What would you do if you had just one day? Most of us would you want to tell our nearest and dearest that we love them. What else would you do? I think we would want to know we are forgiven and we’d want to forgive others.

The famous French sceptic and key thinker of the enlightenment age, Francois-Marie Arouet (aka Voltaire) was a deist. He did not believe in the Bible or that we have a God who intervened in the world. In contrast, his view of God was one of a distant figure.

Voltaire died a terrible death. His nurse is said to have said of him: “For all the money in Europe I wouldn’t want to see another unbeliever die! All night long he cried for forgiveness.”

Thankfully I know the forgiveness that God can bring. I asked Jesus to be at the centre of my life quite a few years ago now – 34 years recently! I know however that I am not as loving and forgiving as I should be. When Peter asked Jesus how many times should he forgive his brother or sister Jesus answered, “seventy times seven” (Matthew 6:21-35). Perhaps he was reminding the Jewish people of the 490 years they spent in captivity, in slavery. We are reminded that even during the most difficult of times we need to forgive. He wasn’t tell us to forgive 490 times but reminding us there is no end to forgiveness after all; He gave His life so we can know God’s forgiveness. It is really a challenge to forgive and not allow bitterness take hold.

Edith Louisa Cavell was a Christian and a nurse who is celebrated for saving the lives of soldiers on both sides during the First World War. She is also known for helping 200 soldiers escape German-occupied Belgian. She was arrested for helping soldiers escape and charged with treason and sentenced to death. Despite international pressure she was brought before a German firing squad in 1915 as a spy. Her last words are said to be, “Patriotism is not enough. I must have no hatred or bitterness towards anyone.” Her Christian beliefs led her to help those who needed it – German or British and even her firing squad.

I don’t want you to think I have a fascination with death! The challenge is to live each day as if it is your last, living as Jesus would live. Loving and forgiving others – even facing a firing squad or a painful death, even forgiving the thief beside you on a cross.

Debbie Duncan is a senior lecturer in nursing, a church leader and minister’s wife. She is married to Malcolm and is mother to their four grown-up children. She is author of over 40 professional articles, is writing her second textbook and is co-author to Life Lines with Cathy Le Feuvre. Her first solo book The art of daily resilience was published by Lion Monarch in February and she is currently writing her next book. Connect with her at twitter: @dduncan42; her website: debbielduncan.wordpress.com and via email: [email protected].

[1] We ended up walking along the Thames river at Runnymede which is a beautiful and historical site where the Magna Carta was sealed in 1215.

1 Response

  1. Chris

    One day to live, I would like to spend it with my family, but would I also have the courage to go out and share the gospel with people??

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