This post was drafted 2 weeks ago. I’m not exactly sure why I hadn’t posted it yet. Maybe it’s because I’m not the voice of forgiveness. I would feel like a hypocrite. But I’m not writing this from the position of “I’ve mastered this…do what I do.” I’m writing this from a place of repeated failures and as the recipient of undeserved, unmerited, lavish, radical, crazy grace and mercy.
I didn’t change a thing in the post you are about to read from what I wrote 2 weeks ago. Not a word. I felt there was a reason God gave me the words to write at that time, and who am I to determine a different message must be written. But I had to add what has happened to me since I wrote this post.
It’s easy to forgive. When there is no conflict in your life. It’s easy to write about forgiveness. When you aren’t the one struggling in it. It’s easy to forgive. When you are counseling another.
It’s NOT easy to forgive. When you feel “right”. It’s NOT easy to forgive. When you are hurt. It’s NOT easy to forgive. When you feel you are saying “What you did was ok.”
I wrote this post 2 weeks ago. And recently God allowed me to be thrown into a situation that had nothing to do with me. In the blink of an eye, hurtful words were flying, hearts were broken, sins were revealed, and relationships marred. I was fully plunged into the heat of the battle. My husband reminded me that it wasn’t about me. This was about spiritual warfare. This was an attack. But God had prepared me for it, I just wasn’t seeing it yet. I fought my mind, which wanted to replay the scenes over and over again. I fought the voices playing over and over again in my head. And I asked God to help me to forgive. Help me to be like Him. I felt the pull of my own sin weighing me down, knocking me off-balance. I heard Steve’s voice saying, “Don’t let this take you off your mission.”
The next morning, I prayed again and again. “God, how do we forgive? I know you tell us to forgive 77 times (meaning never quit forgiving). But it gets so old. I don’t want to keep forgiving. But I love you, so I want to walk in obedience to You.”
I zipped up my fleece, double knotted my running shoes and took off down the trail. Over and over again, I said to myself, “I will not repeat the conversation. I will not think about who did what and who said what. This will not bring about forgiveness.” I looked through the trees along the path. One stood out. I envisioned Jesus nailed to that tree. A holy, perfect God, who WILLINGLY allowed himself to be nailed to that tree. Each strike of the hammer represented my sins. My unforgiveness. My pride. Then I was among the mockers who hurled insults at Jesus. I was one of them! Jesus stayed on that cross, taking the full weight of our sins, sins which we categorize as bad and not so bad, but God does not. They are all heinous to Him. And then. Then. Jesus answered my question. He told me how to forgive. He cried out to God, “Father, forgive them for they know not what they do.” (see Luke 23:32-34)
They know not what they do. Sin is blinding. We know not what we do. And that is how I can forgive. There are 2 clear pictures of forgiveness. The first is Jesus dying on a cross, taking my sin, and offering forgiveness for my sins when he never even sinned. God offers forgiveness IF we choose to accept it with His free gift of salvation given through the death and resurrection of His Son. The 2nd picture is given through the Son, who hung between 2 sinners. One believed, and Jesus assured him He would see him in Heaven. He forgave his sins. And Jesus asked God to forgive those who were crucifying Him because they know not what they do. In the picture of the cross, forgiveness is plastered all over it.
I don’t deserve the mercy God gives me. I don’t deserve the forgiveness He offers me. But His grace. His beautiful, amazing grace.
And so, I CHOSE to forgive. I CHOSE to obey God. I CHOSE to win.
During my run, immediately after this revelation, this song began to play.
Here is my original post. Please, please, please listen to the track at the very end of this post. It is about 20 minutes long, so listen when you have a few minutes. It could change your life and how you view forgiveness. It could change every moment you have with the ones you love…….
Something dangerous chips a hole in our heart if we aren’t careful. Little by little. Each chip leaves an opening just big enough to allow another danger to flow into the depths of our heart. The part that we need to guard and protect.
Unforgiveness. It’s nasty and seeks to destroy. It paves the way for bitterness to take root.
If we don’t recognize its grip on us, we are setting ourselves up for broken relationships, hardened hearts, and discipline from God.
We do not deserve God’s forgiveness. Yet He forgives us. He forgives us wholly and completely when we ask Him. He doesn’t forgive us because we deserve it. Because we are “good” most of the time. Shouldn’t God be our model? When we choose to forgive someone, we aren’t saying, “What you did was ok.” We are choosing to forgive because that is what God desires for us.
What in us prevents us from forgiving? Our pride? Our need to be right and to prove to others we are right? Is that more important than obeying God?
God instructs us to forgive because He knows the damage that is done when unforgiveness is present and bitterness takes root. The road it leads down is lonely.
I recently heard a talk given by Dianne B. Collard, author of “I Choose to Forgive”. She forgave the man who murdered her son. I sat in complete astonishment through her entire talk. Speechless when I walked out the door.
Here is the link. I can’t encourage you enough to listen to this. It’s less than 30 minutes. You will be captivated, convicted, and compelled to forgive.