The Magazine of The Evangelical Lutheran Church in America


The art of forgiveness

Worth the Weight

"Worth the Weight" by Andrew Myers

Forgive my being so trite, but it seemed like "a God thing" — a God thing about forgiveness.

It all started innocently enough. My wife and I were in Lahaina on the island of Maui. Lahaina is a beautifully historic city of shops facing westward on the Pacific. Walking and browsing we stopped in an art gallery. I happened upon a sculpture that moved me and subsequently helped me form a friendship in faith.

The sculpture is titled "Worth the Weight" by Andrew Myers. The piece depicts a man dragging a large key toward a closed door. The key is so heavy it leaves a trail in the ground. On the door is asimple knob and enlarged keyhole. The man is clearly laboring with all of his might to move the giant key. Upon the door is a small plaque that reads "Forgiveness."

After asking about the piece and learning a couple of facts about the artist, we went on our way. The image of the sculpture remained with me for the remainder of the trip.

On our way home we stopped overnight in St. Paul, Minn., to see my father-in-law. At 89 years, his failing health is catching up with him. That night he was admitted to a hospital. After such a long day and waiting for him to be settled in his room, I caught myself thinking about "Worth the Weight." A gathering room in the hospital had a computer, so I searched for the artist's website. My mind was full of questions as to his inspiration for the piece. Maybe it was the lack of sleep, but I found where I could e-mail him and introduced myself. I then asked some simple questions.

The next day he replied and an amazing dialogue began. As the son of a missionary, Mr. Myers' faith inspires his work. He was moved by my fascination with the piece. A theological discussion on the "art of forgiveness" ensued.

I often get asked to help someone forgive: "Please, pastor. I need to forgive someone and I cannot seem to do it. How can I forgive?" My response is always: "You don't need to forgive. I have learned that the forgiveness you seek has already happened. When Jesus took the cross all the forgiveness you need took place. Now all you really need to do is to participate in it. Jesus does the forgiving. We simply need to ask him to be part of it. Let go of trying to do this yourself. Give it to Jesus and over time you will experience the forgiveness you seek. Giving it to Jesus is the hardest part."

Myers' magnificent piece shows in bronze what I have always sought to communicate in words. The door is not ours, neither is the key. They are of Christ. But we have to participate to have forgiveness happen. For some of us, forgiveness is easy. For others, like Myers and me, it has been hard. But when we do the work, partnering with Jesus to unlock the door, the forgiveness we find is definitely "worth the weight."



Tani Stempson

Tani Stempson

Posted at 10:24 am (U.S. Eastern) 8/27/2010

What a wonderful example of "Let go and let God"!!

Thank you for printing Pastor Greg's excellent writing for all of us...

Gregg DesElms

Gregg DesElms

Posted at 12:39 pm (U.S. Eastern) 8/31/2010


An old Japanese proverb suggests that forgiving the unrepentant is like trying to draw pictures in water. Many familiar with the art of forgiving rightly counter with the benefit to self which is derived from the (easier to do than one might think, once one understands it) act of simply forgiving.

Of course, I agree.  But I like to take it one spiritual level higher to the notion of how forgiveness can so model (God's) grace, itself, by my unlikely quoting of, of all people, Samuel Clemens (Mark Twain) who surprisingly profoundly -- and with equally-profound simplicity -- once wrote:

"Forgiveness is the fragrance that the violet sheds on the heel of the boot that crushed it."


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