September 30, 2012

Forgiveness

Posted in Uncategorized at 10:56 pm by Broken & Brave

“But when Paul had gathered a bundle of sticks and laid them on the fire, a viper came out because of the heat, and fastened on his hand. So when the natives saw this they said to one another, ‘No doubt this man is a murderer, whom, though he has escaped the sea, yet justice does not allow to live.’ But he shook off the creature into the fire and suffered no harm. However, they were expecting that he would swell up or suddenly fall down dead. But after they had looked for a long time and saw no harm come to him, they changed their minds…” Acts 28:3-6

 

I have been blessed with the tremendous opportunity to endure, with effort, to conduct myself as Paul would. What a privilege it truly is when we face trials of many kinds. I know this sounds peculiar, but I have come to appreciate that everything does happen for a reason and God does make beauty from ashes. I need to briefly recap a story, my story, and how the Lord has grown his Love, Grace, and Forgiveness in me at a new and deeper level. I feel these have always been virtues that fit into the category of my “strengths”, but God and his Word are True. He says, “whoever has will be given more so that he will have an abundance” (Matthew 13:12). He just doesn’t always tell us how He will be delivering it.

I have been bitten by a poisonous bite. I cannot use the word enemy, for I do not consider it so, but I have a person in my acquaintance who influenced another to take a great deal of things I hold dear away from me. I was deeply slandered. I was shunned. I lost business as a result when one of my clients was approached and asked to stop training with me. Yet another friend received an email which suggested that I was someone she should not be friends with. I became unwelcome in a select circle of relationships that I value and hold dear. Others were recruited to try and find things out about me (looking for my shortcomings I guess). In all of this, I was never actually accused of anything to my knowledge. Emotional anguish for sure, but on top of it all, it began when I was nearly six months pregnant. Pregnant women are already emotional, but to handle this all on top was much to bear. I am not perfect and I didn’t know what to do, but I did my best to follow my guidelines, the Bible, for direction in handling the situation (Matthew 18:15). For many months I endured agony and became insecure in many of my friendships. Many people shied away from me because they were afraid of being rejected themselves or they simply didn’t want to know, though they could see that something was not right. I’m not sure which hurt more, what happened to me, or the revelation of who truly loves me and sincerely calls me friend (and those who didn’t that I thought did). But, as I said, my Lord has worked it all for the good, His good, in me.

As time lapsed I was indeed like Paul with the viper bite. I was never poisoned. I did not fall “dead” and the friends who pulled away have come back to me, seeking my forgiveness and apologizing for doubting my character. Through it all, my God gets the Glory, for I have lavished my accuser with love and forgiveness, grace, mercy and blessing. What should have been disdain and bitterness growing in my heart, has actually blossomed with deeper love and conviction to pray for my accuser and that the Lord would indeed bless this individual. I have compassion and empathy for truly the hurts must run deep within. Though I petitioned for forgiveness of any perceived offense and was denied, I will yet bless again.

I share this story from a place of obedience. I dreamed of this all through the night, only to awaken by the scriptures of Paul running through my head. The Lord whispered via the Holy Spirit, “This is you, Nicole, you have been bitten, just as Paul, but you were not poisoned…you did not die. You have chosen to bless where others might have cursed.”

Through the duration of this difficulty I have been asked time and time again by those close enough to see, “how can you be so full of love and grace Nicole? How can you have so much forgiveness in your heart?” I reply, “It is not I, but the Lord in me”.

Through it, I am actually grateful. The pain has been enormous, wouldn’t want to repeat that again, and my children hurt as well (that for me was the hardest part).  But the Love I have received is amazing! I literally feel I have become a conduit for Healing Virtue to flow. I think I can help you overcome and become a conduit, too. Here are a few basic, starting guidelines:

  1. Sit with a pen and paper. Pray and ask God to bring to your recollection anyone (even if it was 20 years ago) you have not forgiven. You need to ask God to help you for there will be folks who get some name floating through their mind and they will think, “But I forgave them a long time ago?” Maybe you thought you did and God wants to get that vessel totally clean. Don’t worry about the length of your list, some people are quick to forgive and don’t carry it, while others struggle in this area more. Do not compare yourself to others. We all have areas of greater strength and weakness.
  1. Pray a prayer of forgiveness for each one and the offense you need to release.
  1. Repent and ask God to reveal and relieve you of any sin you have committed against another, even if it was without knowing you caused offense (sometimes you’ve done nothing and it’s just the other persons issue, but still, let’s cover all the bases!)
  1. Worship. Thank God for the gift of forgiveness, for his healing power and the opportunity to extend to others the same grace and forgiveness he extended to you.
  1. Pray through Ephesians Ch. 6 the full armor of God…EVERYDAY! You have to be guarded every day. People are NEVER your enemy. The powers of darkness and principalities are what you are contending with, they just target and utilize defenseless or unsuspecting people. But you are not defenseless! You have God on your side and he can protect you from offense. You can choose to not let people offend you. This does not mean you won’t have hurt feelings, but it’s what we do with the hurt that causes us to turn a healthy or unhealthy corner. Choose life! Protect your thoughts, attitudes, feelings with God’s armor and his garment of praise. Worship will do so much for your state of mind. Trust me.
  1. Read the Bible everyday. You heard me…every day. If you can read the label on a can at the market, the newspaper, a road sign, then you can find time to read one bible verse a day. The goal is to increase, but if this is an overwhelming idea to you, let us start with something.
  1. Pray for those who have acted against you, if you have unresolved conflicts (Ephesians 4:26). Pray blessings upon them not curses. Apologize if you are at fault. Sometimes, even if you don’t feel you are at fault, you should apologize because your strength to do so may run deeper than those you are in conflict with. Apologizing does wonders for all of us, it frees us from any clutch pride might try to grab at our heart.  Here is an example of praying blessings, if you are not sure what I mean. Bless ________ with a deeper grace and compassion for others. Bless _________ to see as you see Lord. Bless ___________ to have a deeper and more intimate walk with God. Bless _________ to see all the beautiful blessings in their life. You can pray specific. If the head of your homeowners association won’t stop harassing you for the length of your lawn you can pray they would look at your lawn and see perfection! I’m being light hearted now, but you get the idea. You can pray the blessing, within the context of God’s Holy Word, specific to your situation. It is also important to pray God’s will be done. If that requires God blessing everyone to see what that is.

There now, you have seven pointers for living at peace with others… one for every day of the week. We are called to be salt and light. The world is watching and they will know us by how we love one another. I know it will be hard at times, and when you commit to being a deeper version of Love, Forgiveness, Mercy, Grace, you will indeed receive opportunities to fail. Do not be discouraged, with Christ you are more than a Conqueror and you can do this! When my difficulty began, I already knew God was grooming me to heal through unconditional love and acceptance of others. It was like a huge test where the enemy of my soul, the Accuser of man, was taunting me and saying, “So, you want to love people healthy and strong? You want to encourage people to do and become more? How badly do you want to do that? ….ZAP!”

God likes on the job training. So I think he understands that we are going to make mistakes, but if we persevere we will eventually get it right.  God is faithful and he is the One who began a good work in me, and in you. He is more than faithful to complete it. (Philippians 1:6)

 

Life is a tremendous journey to be embraced and enjoyed, but we all know that life also has difficulty and hardship. Who we are and what our character be, is presented when we face trials and how we respond. Paul’s life is an example of one that was, after his conversion experience (salvation), became completely and zealously sold out for God. He was committed to spreading the Word and Truth of who Jesus was and how we can be forgiven. Paul’s life was one full of suffering and trials, yet, he did not waiver in his commitment. He did not lose his zeal or fervor for what he so ardently believed. We can all learn from his example and live the life we were called to with zeal, fervor and conviction. If God can do it in me, he can do it in you. I believe in your moral character and conviction to make a difference, be a difference.

The Word of God says that he (Jesus) did not come that we should suffer wrath. The Great Shepherd, comes with his Staff to gather every sheep that strays, becomes lost, or becomes injured….gathering them unto Himself..

“What man of you, having a hundred sheep, if he loses one of them, does not leave the ninety-nine in the wilderness, and go after the one which is lost until he finds it? And when he has found it, he lays it on his shoulders, rejoicing. And when he comes home, he calls together his friends and neighbors, saying to them, ‘Rejoice with me, for I have found my sheep which was lost!’ Luke 15:4-6

“For God did not appoint us to wrath, but to obtain salvation through our Lord Jesus Christ.” 1 Thessalonians 5:9

 

“The Lord is longsuffering and abundant in mercy, forgiving iniquity and transgression…” Numbers 14:18

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