In this third installment of the road trip revelations, I want to share about Forgiveness. You may be like me and have experiences that caused you pain and yet, as a Christian you are told to forgive. But one or more of those experiences seems to require you to forgive over and over and for some things, seems like they will never go away.
A trigger, a reminder of the offense can bring us right back to the situation as if we are re-living it all-over-again and feeling all the feels along with it.
The big question is did we not really forgive the first time? I don't know about you but I have learned over the years in church sermons and christian literature that forgiveness is not a one time thing. To that, I say hogwash!
Forgiveness happens when we forgive. It is as simple as that. If the same feelings keep coming up, then forgiveness has not taken place.
Now, I can only guess that some of you are stuck on that last paragraph. I am also guessing that you, like me, have heard and learned the same things about forgiveness: that it is a process. Some of you also, like me, may have gone through or are going through 'trying' to forgive someone for something. As God was challenging me on forgiving individuals over things that have happened (and some long, long ago - and yes, I have gone through the process over and over but some things still oozed into my present), I realized when He asked me a simple question - 'what would you have me do to them'? That I hadn't really forgave at all. I still wanted some form of justice!
That question humbled me. And here is why. No where in the bible does it tell us that forgiveness is a process or that it is accomplished over time.
So why all the verses? Because it became exceptionally clear, especially in Mark, that to forgive someone is to be done in the present moment. It would be a great challenge for any of us to come before God in prayer when we have to spend our lifetime forgiving someone - we would never be able to pray!
We are called to forgive just as we were forgiven. So that brings up a an interesting question - Did Jesus forgive us one day then un-forgive us the next with hopes of reaching ultimate forgiveness over time? Of course not. So how do we forgive johnny-on-the-spot as Jesus forgave us? Well, I am glad you asked...
With a question like "what would you have me do to them", posed to me by God, for just a split second I think I felt "Finally!" it was my chance to be done with these hurts as I now had opportunity to see God execute justice at my direction! HA... not so fast!
As I visualized each person, I found that I couldn't bring myself to have God do anything other than what He had done and continues to do for me.
It was in that moment that I realized that forgiving someone over time is not the way Jesus or the Word teaches. But rather how satan has influenced the church to teach us a watered down version of the Word of God to keep us in a state of resentment, bitterness and entitled vindictiveness. If in doubt, look at our current state of affairs in our country - even Christians are devouring each other and dividing the body of Christ.
In Matthew 18:21 Peter asks Jesus how many times must he forgive his brother or sister who sins against him? He is not referring to the same person over the same sin. It is multiple and new sins that occur. And to that, Jesus says, seventy times seven. Translation - to infinity and beyond. Just the same as He has and does for us.
After God asked me what I thought He should do to 'them' and realizing I could not ask Him to do anything but have mercy, then He asked me the most powerful and painful question:
'Are you willing to forgive them for what they have done to you?' (and by 'them' it meant everyone who has and will hurt me).
I encourage you to sit in that place of uncomfortableness as you picture every wound inflicted upon you and every person or persons associated with them. Every hurtful word, every situation where you felt wronged, real or imagined, and then bring it before God and tell Him what you think ought to be done to them. Keeping in mind what He has done for you.
At this moment, I know no better way to come to the place to real forgiveness than to stand before God and explain why the person or persons who have offended you should receive something that you yourself have been pardoned for.
Don't forget to pick up a copy of my book, "Confessions of a Feel Good Addict"
To subscribe and never miss a blog post, click the RSS Feed button below