Friday, November 12, 2010
Freed to be Free!
Because of deep resentment and unforgiveness I held dear to my heart, I had a white-knuckled position before the Lord. (Those words make me cringe as I am rereading this in "edit mode." Yikes!) Although I wanted mercy for myself, of course, I demanded justice for others. I knew Jesus as my Savior and I wanted Him to be the Lord of every aspect of my life but to be honest, I struggled with unbelief. I withheld my pain and grief over offenses against members of my family, a few old friends, and even other precious believers. Crying is not the same as "crying out" as the psalmist would plead for God's healing touch. Small things didn’t bother me or at least I would say to myself...sheesh, whatever! The offenses I felt were somewhat serious, maybe even life-changing (primarily due to unforgiveness...I think of all of the wasted years...boo!), and perhaps even grievous to God Himself. Sheepishly, I didn’t know how let Him in on my pain although I cried often, and many times, crying myself to sleep for years, so it seemed, trying to console myself. Everything is exaggerated when you live from the heart of unforgiveness. I was hopeless.
Jesus is Lord of Lords all the time or He is not Lord at all? Amen! He is King of Kings not a part-time ruler of my wishes and wants? Second that someone, please! He is Master of everything in my life or frankly, not at all? Hallelujah! Right? I gave total precedence to the pain of my wounded heart. Because of the unforgiveness, I was tormented by the constant arguments, the justification of bitterness, and the “what ifs!” (See the end of Matthew 18...now that’s a provoking thought!!!) As long as I sat on the throne of my pain, Jesus could not reign in my heart as Healer or Deliverer, let alone, as Lord. I was unrelenting.
This weekend at the PWOC Worship and Study in Willingen, Germany, during the first or second session, we were challenged to write down our struggles, our pain, our offenses or unanswered prayers, however seemingly, or whatever, and exchange it in for a treasure, a precious jewel. Of course, I knew intimately well the offenses I needed to lay down at His feet. I rehearsed them all the time! It was overwhelming! I could just hear my Father gently saying, “Aren’t you tired, yet?” (Go back to Matthew 18...talents are a weight measurement) Secondly, I was terrified that my heart was impenetrable and that my life was becoming worthless salt...that my light, my zeal to really live for the Lord in His love and for His glory, that my passion for others was growing dimmer by the day. I was frustrated from the constant “re-hashing of thoughts” that I seemed to meditate faithfully. I was helpless.
Prior to the conference, a few days beforehand, I heard God speak, faintly, a phrase that really resounded in my heart...like it was an unspoken desire but so unattainable, almost, unbelievable~“I am free to forgive.” Theologically, it made sense, so of course, I was "in agreement" with it, so to speak. The agony of unforgiveness was formidable. I didn’t know how it was going to become a reality. Spiritually and emotionally, I was exacting an additional payment for offenses I felt...as if the Blood of Jesus was inadequate. Rarely, if ever, did I consider my part in the grievous offense I felt. I required more and more justice as the years passed. If asked, I could talk about it as if it happened yesterday (a quote from a confidant...ouch!). With a self-inflating thought life, I lacked the humility required for living a life pleasing to the Father. His glory and my obedience were numbered far down my list of real-life priorities. My unbelief dominated my being. I was powerless.
Responding to the challenge presented at the conference, I wrote down three things that I felt were the deepest offenses and walked forward to get my treasure, "my own jewel," in exchange for my pain. I have committed them to the Lord and take no pleasure in repeating them...to you or to myself. I will tell you though, one of them I have been carrying for over 25 years and another one of them for at least 10 years. I prayed with a woman named Shondalyn wearing a prayer shawl and then talked with Sherry, our Titus II “Momma.” She held me so close, I began to sob uncontrollably, heaving. Repeatedly, she told me that I was loved, that she loved me. Honestly, I was ashamed to admit it that I needed to hear that I was lovable. Why do I grimace while typing that truth about myself? Her arms became the arms of my Father as if she spoke on His behalf. I was exhausted.
During one of the songs on Saturday's group session, a chorus rang, “You’re the Name above all Names, You are worthy to be praised," the names of my offenders were flashing before my eyes...one after another...like a blinking billboard. Jesus spoke plainly to my heart, “These are the names that are higher than Mine. They [offenses] have power over your life.” Not only was I free to forgive but I understood that I have been freed in order to forgive. It was a mind-blowing revelation. I was overjoyed! I was repentant.
The re-entry into real life after such a mountain top experience, that commitment to give Jesus my pain, has already had it's moment-by-moment challenges. It is totally different as my heart is light and untangled. I am surrounded by His presence and experiencing joy and hope, again. My thought life and my speech are changing each time I sense the arguments stewing-and-brewing! It’s hard to express gratitude if there is a “but” involved and you know what I think about the conjunction “but.” It’s a crack that divides two sides!!! No longer would I be talking out of two sides of my mouth. Ouch! The Lord has quickened my spirit, mind, and heart to the wilily schemes and trappings set around me by the enemy of my soul. I HAVE BEEN FREED TO FORGIVE, FREELY! Let a new chorus ring: “My chains are gone, I’ve been set free...” I was relieved. Truly.
The treasure I picked up from the altar was a small pearl. At an elementary level, (for that is where I am, girls!) a pearl is formed by an irritant that wedges its way into the shell and muscle of the oyster. The oyster reacts to it by covering it with a substance to protect it from further injury. This irritant gives birth to a pearl through a process, a metamorphosis-like change, and for a season, it is hidden. Precariously, the oyster must die for the pearl to be discovered and even valued as a treasure. There is a time to grieve, and yes, the pain is real. Tragically, unforgiveness is a cruel, tenacious master. Pain must be processed and dealt with in the arms of a loving and perfect Father. I am learning to "cry out." I have a greater understanding, graphically, that my old nature...my flesh, my "what-if’s" and "wish-it-didn’t’s" must be constantly taken captive in my mind and put to death (not entertained...big dah!). (I need a little Romans 12 action...a renewing of my mind with His Word) The life that is luminous and light-filled...pleasing, desirable, treasured, glorifying, only comes from that death and that is where freedom from captivity is found. It’s either take those damning thoughts captive or be held captive by them. Christ came to set the captives free~I get it, in living color! Becoming like Him, living in His forgiveness, for others and myself, is the treasure He has longed to impart to me...for years! He wants to shine through me, for His Glory! I am free!
Oh, did I say that already? How about one more time?
I AM FREE!