“For all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God, and all are justified freely by his grace through the redemption that came by Christ Jesus” Romans 3:23-24
Several years ago someone I considered a close friend betrayed me. Even as I write this, I remember the pain it inflicted and the dark shadow and equal parts rage that rooted in my heart because of her actions. She was thoughtless, self serving, sinful and mindless in her choice. It ruined our friendship. She was/is a believer in Jesus Christ – which made it all the more crushing.
I struggled with my anger for literally years – and as we moved in the same social circles, I took great pains to avoid her as even just seeing her or hearing her name made my stomach churn. You might say, why didn’t you confront her? Well, to do so would have added to her pain, from a familial point of view – and she had children in the mix that would have been hurt by my accusation as well. As we were in the same social circles, I also didn’t want the drama and ugliness. So no – I didn’t confront her specifically, but did make it known to her that we were no longer friends and stayed clear of her from that point on.
But God. That is not what He wanted. As she was a sister in Christ – He continued to bang on me – in head and heart – to forgive her. What? Are you kidding? I confided in a close friend about this and though she suggested I eventually discuss the issues with the person, she advised if I couldn’t do it – to just pray. Pray, Pray, Pray that God would move my heart (and hers for that matter) and somehow this transgression would be assuaged.
So I did. I prayed for my enemy as best I could. I didn’t like it. It raised my blood pressure every time I did it – but I was obedient – in will only – not in spirit.
But God. He allowed me to languish in my unforgiveness for many years – allowing it to prune me probably more than it even pruned her. I was manufacturing and swallowing my own poison – and like a bitter root that grows in thorns – that was indeed my heart. Then one day it all changed. He was done pruning me and moved my heart to call the woman and ask to meet for coffee.
And so I did.
She was very responsive to the invite. When she came, she actually confessed to me what she knew she had done wrong. Seems God moved in her heart as well. She asked for forgiveness and she thanked me for holding my tongue – as she too realized my admonition of her would have caused her greater damage….and so, the storm that had been raging in my heart for years was replaced with a calm, cool soaking rain of forgiveness. Both of us felt the cleansing power of the Holy Spirit move in us. We hugged, we prayed and we said goodbye.
As I went to leave, I got it my car and the radio was playing a James Taylor song, “How sweet it is to be loved by you…” and I knew – without a doubt that it was so sweet to be loved by God for both of us – and in that love only – could I have learned the hardest lesson of forgiveness- to forgive and give grace when the person doesn’t even ask for it or deserve it. Though we are not close gal pals now – I run into her every now and then and feel warmth, and dare I say it – actual friendship toward her – knowing that God had His way in both of us.
The Bible tells us in Romans 8:28 that God will use all things (the pleasant and the painful experiences) in our life for good – and to teach us those lessons that we will need for future. I am in another season in my life whereas I need to forgive someone…and this I know – it is what God not only wants – but commands of me to forgive as He has forgiven me (and you) through the saving grace of His son, Jesus Christ.
This too is a tough one – it will be harder than previously – but I am working on it – well actually HE is working on ME….but this time I am not fighting Him – I am allowing God to walk with me through this great pain…and again, I will Pray, Pray, Pray – and put my trust not in me, but in Him….
In that trust, I pray to to give grace and forgiveness to my transgressor – because after all my awful choices in my own life that offend my Savior personally, how can I not forgive others?
“Come now, let us settle the matter,” says the LORD. “Though your sins are like scarlet, they shall be as white as snow; though they are red as crimson, they shall be like wool. Isaiah 1:18
You know what happens when someone sees the grace of God? When someone really tastes the forgiving and liberating grace of God? Some one who tastes God’s grace is the hardest worker, the most morally pure individual, and the person most willing to forgive. — Max Lucado, Grace for the Moment Volume II