January 10, 2011

Forgiveness | 5th Gracious Basic and Monthly Focus: January




One of the new things I want to start doing this year is getting one topic and focusing on it all month long.  In continuation of the six basic essentials to a gracious woman, I want to take January to focus on forgiveness.
I have actually spent the last few months pondering this.  Forgiveness seems such an overwhelming topic to me...it is (along with similar forms of the word) mentioned 116 times in the KJV of the Bible, I guess that says something about what God thinks about it!
As I've toiled over this subject and tried to study it so I have something worth writing about, I found it got harder and harder.  Then I thought I should just be real with you and share that I have some areas in my life that I still have a hard time applying forgiveness, and others that I don't even need to struggle with it anymore.  But just a few days ago I had lunch with a dear woman who gave me permission to share with you a vision she had regarding un-forgiveness.  I added a few touches to it, but this is basically the same picture she shared with me.
"I stepped forward with my hands outstretched until my fingers ran along the surface of a huge, cold boulder.  As I looked to my left, I saw more rocks - and to my right, giant boulders as far as my eye could see.  I looked up only to see these boulders piled on top of each other so high they blocked out the sunlight in the sky above.  Just then I heard God say to me "You built this wall."  At that moment I didn't have any feelings of pride or accomplishment at crafting such an enormous stone wall, I felt crushed with grief as He began to show me that this wall was built of un-forgiveness.  These rocks represented every hurt and pain I held against those people I couldn't forgive.  Every item on my "list" that I would drudge back up as soon as I felt one more prick of pain.  Every grudge I held.
Then God led me to the top of the wall.  As we finished our climb and my fingers gripped the tops of the boulders, my eyes peered over the crest in anticipation and anxiety.  As far as my eyes searched I saw nothing but black, muddy swamp.  Stink and filth oozed from the thick liquid.
I broke down at that moment because I knew that on the other side of that wall was me.  I was an oozing, boggy swamp with filth and grim stuffed in the deepest corners of my heart, continuing to be stomped down to keep from overflowing onto others.  I could stuff all I wanted, but the murky waters would still spew out on those around me.
I knew only God could help me tear down this wall, only He could give me the strength to drain this marsh, release my grudges, and forgive those who've hurt me.  As the tears streamed down my face, my heart was set.  But before I could even turn to ask Him for the help I needed to do it, the rocks beneath me began to break and the filth-infested waters began pour out (and fear gripped my heart knowing that everyone would see what was really behind this wall).  But as the waters passed through the crumbling rocks, it ran clear as crystal below us.  I could see myself in the reflection of it as it flowed out the other side.  The feeling I had was beyond description...that God would help me to be free of bondage! Un-forgiveness had kept me bound, and the overflow of that heart would only hurt those around me that I loved."
"For if you forgive those who sin against you, your heavenly Father will forgive you. " - Matthew 6:14


There is a lot we could say about forgiveness, how hard it is to forgive and let go, how it's a challenge when we can't reconcile the relationship or how we've overcome these obstacles...if you have any experiences you'd like to share, please feel free in the comments.  I am challenging myself to walk in forgiveness each day, not holding any grudges or keeping any lists against anyone.  But also to journey into past hurts and relationships and ask God to show me if there are any areas I need to practice forgiveness so I can be free of the bondage myself, and have a pure and clean heart.  Amen!

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