Recently, after asking the Holy Spirit to calm my mind and block out all voices except those of God, I "went into" the garden of my heart and spoke to God about the subject of forgiveness. Immediately I saw two chalkboards. On one board was a list of people, but before I could even read the names Jesus had erased them all! How quickly He forgives our sins! On the other chalkboard were names that I recognized......people I felt had hurt me and who I needed to forgive. As I erased each name I prayed for strength to forgive and also repented for any part I had played in the situation. There were two names that were listed at the end...one I will share about next week, and the other was myself. I prayed over the last name and then moved on to myself. As I tried to erase my name it kept coming back. I would erase it and it would pop back up on the chalkboard! It did not take me long to recognize a truth I have known about the person I see in the mirror ~ I have a hard time forgiving myself. I am sure you all can relate, and yet God tells us to love ourselves as we love others. Part of love is forgiveness.
The conversation on forgiveness really resonated with me. I know how important it is to let go of past hurts, even though it often takes great effort to do so. Yesterday this particular conversation came back to me when I was visiting my dear friend, Linny's, blog, A Place Called Simplicity. I have the privilege of leading Linny's prayer group, The Knee Team, and have come to cherish her friendship. Linny has written a post sharing photos of some of her children with their grandfather. Not so out of the ordinary unless you know Linny's story which you can find on her blog. She had a pretty tough childhood and yet, she has forgiven her father and those who brought her harm. In obedience to God she has forgiven and forged ahead to maintain some kind of relationship with the man who made her childhood more than a little challenging. In obedience, in forgiveness, in love she has reached out. It would be difficult to do the same, but in fact, I am in the process of forgiving someone who also made my childhood and my adult life challenging at times. More than she will ever know, Linny has blessed my life as a mentor and a friend during this time.
The Bible speaks clearly on forgiveness in ways that can seem a bit harsh. Jesus says,
If you forgive those who sin against you, your heavenly Father will forgive you.
But if you refuse to forgive others, your Father will not forgive your sins.
Matthew 6: 14,15
Sometimes forgiveness seems unfair or impossible, but we are not left on our own in this task. The Holy Spirit helps us to forgive. The same power that raised Jesus from the dead lives within us and that power gives us the strength to do all things, including letting go of hurts and anger.
This has come to mind for me during the past week as the stories behind the Aurora, CO shootings come to light. I pondered how those who lost loved ones will put their lives back together. I pondered how they will make sense of such madness. How will they forgive and move forward? I believe only with God's help will they put their lives in order. He waits for us to ask. There are other verses in the book of Matthew that give us guidance.
Keep on asking and you will receive what you ask for.
Keep on seeking and you will find.
Keep on knocking and the door will be opened for you.
As I shared in the beginning of this post, forgiveness is not only for others, but for ourselves. In more ways than one. Whether it is against ourselves or others, holding unforgiveness in our hearts is harmful in so many ways. God loves us so much that He has given us a strong command with consequences if we do not follow through. Forgive and be forgiven. Forgive and be free of hurts. Forgive and have peace. Forgive and be free. Free in Christ. I think it is time to go back to that chalkboard and get out the eraser!!
I am linking up with Spiritual Sundays
I am linking up with Spiritual Sundays