Forgiveness, It's Required
Without forgiveness, I have nothing. Jesus walked amongst us, to show us the way, to instruct us how to walk, to demonstrate His love for us and our need for Him. His Word says, “If we confess our sins, He is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness”. 1 John 1:9
I needed His forgiveness because the weight of my mistakes was too heavy for me to bear. I must also add, that every time I sinned, there were other sins that easily followed. Eventually, I was buried under the shame and guilt of it all. Throughout, I knew when I was sinning, He made sure I was aware. One day, after a devastating fallout in my family, the load of my sin became too heavy, I was being crushed beneath it. I called out in desperation, confessing my sinful life, laying it all at His feet. I allowed His sacrificial blood to cover it and I walked away a new creation, the creation He always intended me to be.
“Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation.
The old has passed away; behold, the new has come.”
I grabbed hold of His forgiveness for dear life, my dear life.
Then He revealed to me that in order to receive His forgiveness I must forgive others. Asking for forgiveness was difficult enough, but forgiving someone who harmed me? Forgiving someone whose actions sent me down a path of confusion littered with self-destruction? It was their fault I had made so many mistakes, wasn’t it? How was I to forgive them?
He also disclosed to me that in order for me to forgive others I must forgive myself! Now that was asking far too much of me, it seemed impossible. I had made too many bad decisions that had dire consequences on myself and the loved ones He had placed in my care. So many of my poor choices sent them down their own path of self-destruction. I was no better than those who had hurt me. I did not feel worthy for Him to forgive me, so I couldn't forgive myself.
But He wouldn’t let me go. He began to show me in His Word that I could not be forgiven if I did not forgive:
“… as the LORD has forgiven you,
so you must also forgive,”
For if you forgive others their trespasses,
your heavenly Father will also forgive you,
but if you do not forgive others their trespasses,
neither will your Father forgive your trespasses.
There was no getting around it and I needed to be out from underneath the burden I was carrying. So, I became willing. I had to be repentant, I had to ask for forgiveness, and I had to grant forgiveness… to myself and to those who had hurt me.
His forgiveness happened in the blink of an eye. The moment I asked, He granted it. But then the real work began. I had to dig very deep and look at the raw truth, the truth I had been trying to bury with substance abuse and in some cases, power. (I can remember pumping my chest, trying to stand taller, just to make others see someone I wasn’t. It never worked. All they saw was someone trying to look taller.)
As I began to excavate within myself, I saw anger covering pain. I saw shame covering regret. My repentance was real, my regret and pain had been the proof. I tossed the anger and shame aside. I held the pain for a moment, I acknowledged the regret. Slowly, very slowly, the pain subsided, and the regret became forgiveness. I was learning how to forgive myself. Then I discovered something miraculous: As I began to forgive myself, I was also forgiving others.
I began to see people as I saw myself. I didn’t deserve forgiveness any more than they did. And whether they sought forgiveness or not, I would forgive. My heart grew lighter, (blame is a heavy load), my mind cleared, and my step picked up its pace. With each new sunrise I found myself to be lighter and happier. When I see others, I smile. When life throws a curve ball, I just look up to Him. I am forgiven, I have forgiven. I don’t walk in the shadows of shame and regret or pain and suffering. There is no anger left in me. I am beginning to see the world and all the people in it, through His eyes. I am listening to His Words, I am following His Words.
God created us for a purpose. That purpose was not to walk around with a chip on our shoulders and a bullhorn in our hand. He did not create us to abuse our bodies in the name of our suffering. No, our purpose is to walk as Jesus walked, feel what Jesus felt, and to withstand this world no matter what trial may come. We are to endure it with one soul purpose, to forgive, to be forgiven, and to tell others the Good News about forgiveness. There is more to this life than its pain and suffering. There is joy unspeakable to be found, celebrated, and shared. I have found my Joy and I want to share Him with you, let’s rejoice together.
Until now you have asked nothing in my name.
Ask, and you will receive, that your joy may be full.