A gift that’s so easy to receive, yet so challenging to extend.
Especially when we think it’s undeserved.
I know this road well.
And I’ve learned as a Christian, there is no bypass to forgiveness.
My hope is that you’ll be encouraged as I share my own personal experience in this area of forgiveness. I believe (through a prompting from the Holy Spirit) there is someone who needs to hear this story today.
May He receive all the glory.
I’ve included an excerpt from my (untitled) book below describing a very challenging season in which I had to forgive my enemies.
“It was in this season of my life that Jesus began to speak about forgiveness. The idea seemed pretty appropriate since I had just started counseling and was daily surrendering (which seemed like endless) offenses from my past. Yet, God was preparing me for something else: treason. Yes, treason. A concealed act of treachery was looming around in the shadows, indiscriminately en route to shatter my heart. It was an event I could have never foreseen. In those days, Jesus taught me no matter how hurt I was or the magnitude of the offense, I would need to forgive.
The Word states in Matthew 6:14 -15: “For if you forgive men when they sin against you, your heavenly Father will also forgive you. But if you do not forgive men their sins, your Father will not forgive your sins.”
In order for me to be healed and to live in complete freedom with Christ, I’d have to pardon the offense. Like many of you, this was a fairly easy concept for me to understand.
Someone wounds you. You forgive.
Jesus forgives us so we must forgive others.
But when this ‘idealistic’ opportunity encroached itself upon the territory of my own heart, I resisted.
Forgiveness was a forgone memory.
It was over the course of several months during a past marital separation that I had become very intentional in developing my relationship with Jesus. So, one October night when the wind was chilly and the leaves were swirling in the air, I became so dumbstruck by the beauty of the evening, I decided to take a stroll with Jesus. As we walked, I began to talk to Him about the marriage, about life, and about work.
And then Jesus began to speak:
“Christy, he’s having an affair. He’s having sex with another woman. In your bed. In your home.”
These words pierced me to the core.
Whoa. In an instant, my hands were shaking, nausea engrossed me, and my heart was broken to pieces..again. I knew it was real. Jesus wouldn’t lie to me. His words pierced every inner organ I possessed. I didn’t need to see it, I knew it was true. An unfortunate, wicked truth.
In hesitation I began to ask the Lord: “Jesus, who is it? Do I know her?”
In a gentle whisper He spoke her name. Thoughts flooded my mind.
I knew her.
I had prayed for her months before the separation.
I had her in my home.
How could I have been so betrayed by both of them?
I was angry. Really angry. And I literally had no idea in what to do, so I screamed. Loud. Then I bawled and asked Jesus to help me. In one simple phone call, it was all confirmed. He was having an affair and really had no intentions in leaving her.
So, what does one do when life dishes out this kind of trauma?
I was baffled with the complexity of the decisions before me and offended by the mere idea of forgiveness. And here I was again, with the need to surrender.
I’d have to let go in order to have this life of freedom I had been so eagerly pursuing for the past eight months. Oh, what a difficult task it becomes to forgive those who deliberately hurt and offend us.
It just didn’t seem fair. It didn’t seem like they deserved it.
And then a still voice spoke to my soul. “You know you’re right Christy. They don’t deserve to be forgiven much like you don’t deserve to be forgiven.”
“What do I say to a statement like that?”, I asked myself.
It was in this moment I realized Jesus had faced the same dilemma with Judas Iscariot. Judas was his friend. Jesus loved him. And Judas threw their entire friendship down the drain for a cheap thrill rendering a mere thirty shekels of silver. Jesus knew betrayal well. He knew the pain. It brought me great relief to know My Lord and Savior understood what I was facing from His own personal experience.
“Will you do the same Christy? Will you forgive like I forgive you?” He whispered into my ear.
Deep breath. Arms crossed and face affixed. If I was really serious about ‘knowing’ Jesus, not simply observing Him from afar (like I did for so many years), then I was going to have to follow in His footsteps. I knew that if I didn’t forgive these two, the only ones who would suffer would be me and Jesus. If I decided to harbor my anger, my jealousy, and my (justified) pain, that ball and chain would cling to my ankles within minutes. I’d be left in spiritual bondage full of bitterness and singeing with resentment.
And my heart would die. All my dreams of a new marriage and a new life would die too. I knew in my heart, I could never expect the Lord to truly bless me with anything new, if I couldn’t surrender the old into His hands.
“Yes, Lord. I’ll forgive them. But, it’s because of You. Just help me do it, please.”, I whispered barely above a level of sound.
I’m still in awe of how He saved me that day. And this my friends, is the redemptive power of Jesus Christ. It’s what is humanely impossible made possible through Him.
Your offender may never deserve to be forgiven nor may they ever ask you for forgiveness. But, Jesus deserves for us to forgive them.
He is worth it.
Beloved, once I made the choice to forgive, He provided the rest and I was set free. Their poor decisions would no longer have power over me. I had peace. I had hope. I had freedom.“
And this, my friends, is the reality of living in a fallen world. We will be offended. We will be hurt. But, praise be to God who “makes all things new”.
Fix your eyes on Jesus, Beloved.
Will you trust Him to help you forgive that someone?
Remember: In the Christian faith, there’s no bypass to forgiveness.
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