March 18, 2004
Lord, last night at life group, our leader asked if anyone was struggling with forgiveness. Lord, You know my heart. You know I try to forgive and think I have forgiven, and then something happens and the past is remembered, and I discover that somehow I still have the tips of those tap-roots of hurt and bitterness still reaching deep inside me, deeper than I ever imagined. And Lord, I have to dig some more, to will some more to love those people, to try to know You more so I can gain more of Your love, and seek Your forgiveness of my faults, Lord.
Our leader made it sound so simple, Lord, and I suppose it really is, or should be. He talks about just "loving on people," and Lord, it's not so hard it they are people you don't have to live with every day, as I'm quite sure You are aware. And the thing is, I do love them: yes, warm, fuzzy feelings, true; but also I mostly enjoy serving them, and I long for their salvation and growth in You, and I'm learning (I hope) to be more consistent and firm, and more bold to share Your name, Your gospel. I think I'm dealing with them more patiently and kindly, and with other aspects of the fruit of the Spirit, and according to the definition of love in 1 Corinthians 13. And as You so well know, that is so "not me!" It has to be the work of Your Holy Spirit in my life, making me at least a little more each day (oh, I pray) into the image of my precious Lord and Saviour, my elder brother, my God - my dear Lord Jesus Christ! Hallelujah!
So Lord, my question is, can't You excise that whole deep tap root of bitterness all at once, and heal me so that it can't get infected in me right away again? Or do I just keep forgiving every time I realize another aspect of my attitude of unforgiveness, every time I am reminded of the past, and then the enemy gleefully pokes a red hot poker in to try and reactivate old hurts? Is it always the enemy? Is it weakness in my flesh? Is it even You growing me, purifying me, making me more holy, more like You Lord?
I do understand that I am forgiven, that my sins have been washed away, that my spirit is made perfect - but Lord, I myself said at life group last night that we need to turn to the body of believers (as well as to You and to the spiritual armour which You have provided for us, of course, hallelujah!) for support, because You have provided us with giftings and talents for this very purpose.
But when our leader asked if anyone needed prayer for dealing with issues of forgiveness, I found myself holding back, in fear of being found out, in fear of what people would think. Well, You know my heart, Lord. Lord, how can I possibly witness to my children, and my husband, and others, when I find I can't - or at least haven't yet chosen to totally - let the past go completely, when I am reminded by some hurt inflicted (physical or emotional), some thing stolen, etc. And I immediately react (at least inwardly, often outwardly) with anger and suspicion and distrust and frustration?
Lord, our leader says that when people do bad things to us (or others) we need to remember that ultimately "the devil made them do it" ... and we need to direct our anger against the enemy (because of the mess that the sin he introduced/offered to our first parents has caused) (even if we do choose to follow the lead of our flesh... our sinful nature - but has that nature not been replaced by a new spirit, guided by the Spirit of God, if we have accepted Jesus? ... I need to read Romans again, don't I? Make Your word clear to my heart, Lord...). Anyway, we need to "love our enemies, do good to them who hurt us and persecute us and do evil toward us" and of course, forgive them, seventy times seven and beyond.