Wednesday, November 25, 2015

Shepastor: "The Delicate, Bumpy and Sometimes Messy Path to Forgiveness..."

Matthew 18:21-35King James Version (KJV)
21 Then came Peter to him, and said, Lord, how oft shall my brother sin against me, and I forgive him? till seven times?
22 Jesus saith unto him, I say not unto thee, Until seven times: but, Until seventy times seven.
23 Therefore is the kingdom of heaven likened unto a certain king, which would take account of his servants.
24 And when he had begun to reckon, one was brought unto him, which owed him ten thousand talents.
25 But forasmuch as he had not to pay, his lord commanded him to be sold, and his wife, and children, and all that he had, and payment to be made.
26 The servant therefore fell down, and worshipped him, saying, Lord, have patience with me, and I will pay thee all.
27 Then the lord of that servant was moved with compassion, and loosed him, and forgave him the debt.
28 But the same servant went out, and found one of his fellow servants, which owed him an hundred pence: and he laid hands on him, and took him by the throat, saying, Pay me that thou owest.
29 And his fellow servant fell down at his feet, and besought him, saying, Have patience with me, and I will pay thee all.
30 And he would not: but went and cast him into prison, till he should pay the debt.
31 So when his fellow servants saw what was done, they were very sorry, and came and told unto their lord all that was done.
32 Then his lord, after that he had called him, said unto him, O thou wicked servant, I forgave thee all that debt, because thou desiredst me:
33 Shouldest not thou also have had compassion on thy fellow servant, even as I had pity on thee?
34 And his lord was wroth, and delivered him to the tormentors, till he should pay all that was due unto him.
35 So likewise shall my heavenly Father do also unto you, if ye from your hearts forgive not every one his brother their trespasses.

The path to forgiveness can be delicate, bumpy and very, very messy. After being brutalized, despised and rejected by humanity, our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ willingly hung His head and gave His life…not, however, before uttering the words, “Father forgive them for they know not what they do” (Luke 23: 34, KJV).

As humans, we wrestle to be as gracious and merciful. Forgiveness for us is not an event, it is a process…a delicate, bumpy and at times a very messy process. It is delicate because it involves matters of the heart…sometimes deep, painful, searing wounds inflicted for various and sundry reasons. For those who have experienced deep wounds for no justifiable reason, the road to forgiveness can be very bumpy and messy. Just when you thought you were done, the smell of a meal, the subtle rustle of leaves, the sound of graving being crushed beneath the feet of someone passing by, a television program, the first snow fall of the season, the song on the radio, etc., can resurrect deep dark memories and the scab seems to lift off of the wound.

The road can be bumpy and messy towards forgiveness because you may not want to forgive…you may feel that the individual(s) doesn’t deserve forgiveness. Yet the Lord calls us to do what He did on Calvary…forgive. But how? One may be asking, “How Lord, how can I forgive…do you see what they did to me? Do you see how I’ve been left broken and wounded and scarred? Do you see how my heart, my hopes, my dreams, my life has been ravaged?” The Lord does not require us to subject ourselves to repeated acts of injustice, abuse and or disrespect. When Jesus hung on Calvary, God the Father did not require Him to come back and be abused by humans again! God does call us, however, to release the anger, bitterness, vengeful thoughts and behaviors to Him.

The Lord, who is merciful, kind and just has given us marvelous examples of “how.” In addition to His great example of Jesus, God provides metaphors to help us understand that the process will take time, struggle and yes some pain. But if we will yield to it and start with “yes,” the results will be beautiful:

…Flowers blossom into gorgeous fragrant bouquets but only after being planted in the deep, dark dirt and pressing their way upward towards the sun…

…Beautiful and beloved Babies emerge from their mother’s womb at first wrinkled, covered in blood and amniotic fluid, inflicting much pain and struggle

…Delicious meals whether baked or grilled, or boiled, or fried are first washed or whisked or mixed or pounded and then placed in or on something very, very hot. Raw, dry or wet, squeezed, filleted, cut, bound, whipped, creamed, frozen, thawed etc., all on the path to deliciousness!

…Healing from diseases may involve the messy process of our flesh, and muscles being cut open, sterilized instruments delving deep into our bodies being guided by the skillful hand of the surgeon on the way to removing that which is threatening our lives. Painful stiches, sutures or staples may follow all on the path to healing.

If you will submit your heart to the process of forgiveness, it may not happen over night. You may wrestle to keep moving forward, but you will not have to wrestle alone. As you surrender your heart to the Savior, Jesus, He who has forgiven us all will give you the strength, the will, the desire to release the hurt and will give you what you need to overcome.

Allow the Lord to plant the seed, to birth “the baby,” to “prepare the table” to heal your diseases, so that beauty instead of ashes may spring forth in your life. Remember, the Lord has shown us great mercy, forgiveness and love while we were yet sinners.

May we, by the power of the Holy Spirit resist the temptation to make our debtors pay “to the uttermost farthing.” May we remember that we too must give an account.
May you and yours have a peaceful, joy-filled, “forgiveness-filled” heartfelt Thanksgiving Season.

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Until next Wednesday,

In Faith, Hope and Perseverance,
Pastor Chris

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