Ok-life on the farm is somewhat dangerous but our place is ridiculous! We sat down the other night and calculated the grand total of medical procedures our family has needed. The list is pretty impressive. Our latest trip to the ER was for a single staple in the head...a launching from a horse...minor check off of the list. Kid stuff.
Over 23 years our family has had...
138 stitches (or more, the math got fuzzy).
4 broken arms.
3 broken fingers.
2 eye injuries-requiring metal to be removed.
4 sprained ankles
1 sprained wrist
1 broken elbow
10 missing fingernails
Lost count on burns...Immeasurable bruising...
35 days in-patient hospital stays
3 out-patient hospital stays.
4 major abdominal surgeries
2 Root canals
2 sets of wisdom teeth removed
5 broken noses
2 broken heels
4 adult teeth pulled
2 major cancer scares
Over a dozen MRI’s & other scans…
Lost track of x-rays…
A whomping case of chronic Scoliosis
I am proud to say we are all up-to-date on our Tetanus shots. And if all goes well we should not have to worry about a rabies vaccine. So, what does that long list of physical wounds have to do with spiritual stuff? Everything.
Life knocks us around physically, emotionally and spiritually. I have a list of heart wounds and so do you because we both wear human skin. I looked at that list of wounds and realized there are just as many spiritual wounds. Do you spend time counting the way that people have hurt you? I have and it is ugly. How about you? Abuse, betrayal, jealousy, anger, gossip, envy, strife, you name it...all of our ugly comes out when withhold forgiveness. Self absorption has a way of making us miserable and the power of our unforgiveness becomes frightfully obvious to others and yet oblivious to ourselves. We walk around with gaping wounds and say we are just fine when really, we aren't. What can we do when a band-aid isn't big enough to heal a wound?
1. Let God In.
You have carried the burdens long enough dear friend. He already knows your heartache and has the healing balm ready for you. He sees the whole thing from the beginning and He sees how it ends.
" Therefore humble yourselves under the mighty hand of God, that He may exalt you at the proper time, casting all your anxiety on Him, because He cares for you." 1 Peter 5:6-7
There is a big difference between going to God and letting pain fester with a smile on your face. Have you told God in real physical words exactly why you are having a hard time forgiving that person? Hand over your list of wounds and let God deal with it. How? Take some serious time to be quiet (or scream and cry!) before God and lay it all out with spoken or written words. Every ugly thought. Every ugly detail and every nasty moment. Leave nothing unturned and no words or deeds left unmentioned. Spill because you can’t white-knuckle this thing on your own. It has been said that unforgiveness is like drinking poison and expecting the other person to die. True. My guess is that you're loosing a whole lot more sleep about it than they are. Chances are the person that has hurt you has moved on and you are stuck right where it happened. When you take your hurts before a Holy God-you don't have to bear them alone. He is your Emmanuel, God With Us, and He is the only one that can help you move forward in victory.
2. Look to Jesus in Prayer
"But Jesus was saying, “Father, forgive them; for they do not know what they are doing. And they cast lots, dividing up His garments among themselves." Luke 23:34
Jesus shows us how to forgive on the cross in prayer. He asked His Heavenly Father to forgive His executioners while they held the hammer and nails. Looking at Christ's example of ultimate forgiveness keeps the list of our wounds in perspective, whether they are major or minor hurts. He lived it-died for it-and He wants you to release the very person that is driving you crazy. Let's face it. God can do a lot more to change the other person that you can, can’t He? He has limitless power and knowledge regarding your situation and knows more about it than you do. He knows the motives and He can get to the root. He alone is responsible for your defense and your offender has to answer to Him. God is really good at righting all of the wrongs here on this earth and in the life to come. Maybe it is time to sit back and watch God do His thing on your behalf? It’s ok to pray for that. When you take the other person off your own meat hooks, it does a lot more than just free you up. It releases the other person to deal directly with God on the matter. Pray for that. Forgiveness isn't just a one time deal. Sometimes it is a daily or hourly choice when you are living smack in the middle of crisis. Seventy seven times and beyond requires more than human effort-it requires divine intervention. Pray. Pray out the spirit of bitterness from your heart so God can replace it with Himself. What a divine trade!
3. Live In The Present
"Let all bitterness and wrath and anger and clamor and slander be put away from you, along with all malice." Eph 4:31
Forgiving isn't forgetting. God is pretty good at not remembering sin. Us? Well, um...not so much. We tend to punch the replay button way to often. Forgiveness is letting go of the right to retaliate for the hurt that has been done to you-it doesn't mean you forget the hurt. Remembering your hurts can actually be a good thing! It can help you to avoid future hurts and will remind you of how God showed Himself strong on your behalf. What isn't okay is when you let memories snuff out your present joy and allow the replay button bring bitterness. If the conflict is in the past, don't allow it define your future. Ask God to show you how to forgive. If the conflict is in the present, deal with it head on and run to God with your heart issues. Easier said than done. I know. Do the harder thing-not because you are able, but because you trust in your Great Defender.
Be careful with bitterness and unforgiveness. It is easy to run the risk of piling up more personal sins like slander, malice and anger than the other person's original offense before the bitterness settled in. God is asking you to focus on the present situation and lay down the list of wounds so you can find healing. It is gonna hurt, but not as bad as harboring bitterness for years will. Have you laid your right to revenge down? Have you made the effort to stop emotionally beating everyone else up because you can't let it go? Have you taken the time to repent of your bitterness? There is a joy and peace that is waiting at the foot of the cross and it is a beautiful thing.
There is something about letting go of the past to take hold of a brighter future. That can only be done through the power and the presence of Christ. I'm praying for you, sister. Close your eyes and let it go by letting Him take it.