Sabbath Moments

This painting by French Impressionist Gaston La Touche (1854-1913) captivates me. I can be anywhere in the Art Institute of Chicago and I always seem to find my way back to it. As I approach it, a sigh comes over my being. It’s called “Pardon in Brittany.”


The story behind it is that the people on the French coast by Normandy used to walk in pilgrimmages on the feast days of patron saints. They would wake before dawn, and following behind the priest, confess their sins, take communion together and pray as they went. They would walk around churches or places together where miraculous events were said to have happened. At the “place of Pardon”, as the sun sets over the ocean, a priest would turn and grant absolution.

This gets me thinking.

Where is my place of Pardon?

For me, it’s often when I am on my knees in prayer and confession. Sometimes it’s when I am going into the throne room of grace during worship; the music cracks open parts in my heart and reveals hardness toward God to others. It’s when I am in the middle of the Scriptures and God reveals a hidden truth that unlocks sin–I have to confess and repent on the spot.

Then I fall on the bottom of the boat and tell Jesus to go away from me–I am sinful!–after He performs something miraculous in my life, as Peter did. Or it’s when I cry out “Woe to me! I am ruined!” as Isaiah did, after encountering God in all His majesty.

It’s when I realize I can do nothing to save myself and that it is all Jesus–HIS work, HIS life, HIS resurrection–that I find it.

Once I come to that place of Pardon, where I recognize it is simply by grace I have been saved, through faith, I can finally rest. There’s no more “doing” to be done, no working for salvation, no excuses, no saving myself.

“There remains, then, a Sabbath-rest for the people of God; for anyone who enters God’s rest also rests from their works, just as God did from his.” (Hebrews 4:9-10, NIV)

That must be why my soul sighs when I see this painting every time. It reminds me that I don’t need a specific place for absolution. The pilgrimage I take at any time and any place is when I humbly present myself before the Lord, come into the throne room of Almighty God, and bow down to Him. With the blood of Jesus, I am released from the guilt and punishment. I have forgiveness of sin. I have rest in Him.

How or where do you find your place of Pardon? I’d love to hear about your times of rest in God, how He has given you absolution.

Here’s a quick vid with a little more love:


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