Friday, March 30, 2018

Ultimate Forgiveness

It's so amazing to me when I hear the stories, the incredible stories of impossible forgiveness. Have you heard them?

Get rid of all bitterness, rage and anger, brawling and slander, along with every form of malice. Be kind and compassionate to one another, forgiving each other, just as in Christ God forgave you. Ephesians 4:31-32

There is the story of the little boy who's parents were missionaries. His father was among a group who were slaughtered by a tribe in Equador, yet he grew up to become one of their family. You can see a version of his story in the movie," The End of The Spear." and read more about it here:

Then there's the story of the mom who's teenage son was murdered by another teenager. After 6 months, she regularly visited the boy in prison and brought him gifts. When he was released, she took him into her home, and later took him as her own son. To read more about this story you can go here: 

How can people forgive in such extravagant ways when so many of us have trouble even accepting the relatively minor things that others have done to us? How can you step into someone's life who has hurt you so badly? Perhaps the answer lies at the cross where the ultimate story of forgiveness took place; the story that many gloss over or minimize with the commercial aspects of the Easter holiday. God sent His only son to live to teach, heal and deliver, only to be abandoned and tortured. And he took the most horrible punishment for all of our sins, and still asked God to forgive us for what was done to him.

Bear with each other and forgive one another if any of you has a grievance against someone. Forgive as the Lord forgave you. Colossians 3:13

Jesus isn't just the ultimate sacrifice, but also our example. And when we ask, and are ready to surrender, we are given the grace to be able to forgive things we could not imagine forgiving. I am one who has had to do that. By the grace of God only, for it was Him through me that did the forgiving. That day I was set free from things I didn't know held me captive. My whole life changed.

Forgiveness is an act that in most cases is never known by the person being forgiven. By forgiving, we break the chains of anger, sadness and bitterness that keep us held to the past, and unable to move forward. A counselor once described unforgiveness as going through life feeling like you are juggling balls or carrying a heavy ball and chain all the time! How very exhausting and distracting that is! When we refuse to forgive, we put a roadblock in our own way to true repentance as God tells us more than once in scripture that we must forgive in order to be forgiven.

 For if you forgive other people when they sin against you, your heavenly Father will also forgive you. 15 But if you do not forgive others their sins, your Father will not forgive your sins. Matthew 6:14-15

I pray that you can meditate upon and reach out to God to help you forgive and be free and then experience the peace that knows no understanding.

Thursday, March 1, 2018

In Hindsight

Thirteen months is a long time right? I think it is. Thirteen months is how long it is since my husband's store closed and he was out of a job. Thank God he is part of a union! He was guaranteed a job, so he was reassigned to a part time job 90 miles away. He made enough that it didn't pay to get a temporary job waiting for a job where we lived and that is how we lived for quite a while. Meanwhile, the roof fell in. Not just figuratively as in everything seemed to go wrong, but literally as in part of our roof just fell in! Not only did it fall in, but because it was due to a faulty repair of the people who owned the house before us, our homeowner's insurance did not cover it. My health got worse, we had family illness to deal with, pipes burst, you name it and it happened.

We prayed and we prayed. People would say "I'll pray for you" and "You're in a hard season," and being the Christians that we are, we just kept going, sucked it up and had occasional meltdowns. Thank God we have our faith! What this "hard season" did for us was to bring us closer to God in a way we haven't been before. It made us focus on Him in new ways. And more than anything, it made us realize what is truly important.

When jobs didn't work out, and the savings was just about gone, we felt times of weakness and despair. Where was God? Why hadn't He answered? What did He want from us? Questions swirled around in my head. As my faith was worn down, and my strength became weakness, the most incredible thing happened. I was lifted in a way I hadn't been in a long time. I surrendered completely and was functioning fully in God's strength, feeling a renewal of hope and joy. I would wake and He would replenish my cup. He would fill my emptiness. I did not realize the striving I had done until I had no energy to strive with. Sometimes we need to get to that place of desperation to give it all to Him!

Are you in that place of need and desperation? I invite you to get on your knees and lay it down to the One who will take it and make You new. Even if you have done this before, you can do it again. You are so loved, and the Lord wants to give you the best of Him. Look at the ultimate sacrifice He made of His own son for each of us! You can trust Him with it all, and in return receive the peace than knows no understanding. I know I did.

And regarding the job and my health: my husband's company created a new full time position for him that wasn't there. I had surgery and am doing better than I have been in a long time, and the roof is no longer falling in! God is so good, and He uses everything for the good!