Monday, November 7, 2011

Seventy times Seven

Okay if I'm going to be honest, 
I have to admit that one of my greatest struggles is forgiveness.

There have been a few situations in my life where I have really wrestled with God on how to forgive someone.
I believe the lie that society tells us
 "some things are unforgivable".
That perspective quickly turns into a life of bitterness, pride, and ultimately sin.

I have struggled hard with forgiving someone before.
I thought,
 "this person has ruined my life" and "this wasn't supposed to happen" and "Why am i hurting because of something YOU did...I don't deserve this because I didn't do anything wrong."
It didn't help that every person that I respected constantly nagged at me "God calls you to forgive."..."You have to forgive them, Kelly or you're walking in sin and darkness"

And that's what I did, I walked in darkness for a long time.
Forgiveness wasn't something I wanted to say and just move on.
I wanted to mean it from the depths of my being, I wanted to feel it. I wanted to say 
"I forgive you" and never feel bitter towards it again.
but I couldn't, I couldn't say it, or live it, because I didn't mean it.

It took several months for me to grasp God's idea of forgiveness...
I was away from home one summer at a summer camp with high school group.
It was the time in my life where I was right in the middle of all the hardships going on around me.
I realized about mid week that I was struggling to fully connect with and experience God because I was holding this grudge towards someone close to me.
And it was starting to eat away at me.

It was the day of the week that the whole camp spent at the beach.
Towards the end, we were worshipping and sharing testimonies of all the great things that happened so far during the week.
I couldn't take it anymore. I was frustrated. I wasn't feeling fulfilled with God. I wasn't getting the answers I was looking for. I couldn't find i left.
I walked away from the rest of the group worshipping.
I made my way down to the water and just strolled along the shore.
I expressed my frustration with God...
I complained to him about everything that was happening in my life. I asked him "Why?" a million times over. I asked Him where he was. And I begged him to do something.

Then...silence filled my mind and I felt an overwhelming command to Stop.

God whispered into my heart "You are just as much a sinner as they are and I forgave you. Therefore, you must forgive them..."

I broke down crying. I finally understood God. I understood his idea of forgiveness and his unconditional love for me.
I kneeled down in the sand and wrote with my finger, 
"I forgive ______, because God forgives me."

The second I stood up, a wave came and washed it away.
It was God's way of saying, 
"Well done, it is washed away. Now go in peace and love them. Never forget what I taught you here."

and from that day on my heart has been radically different.

I now find myself going through a similar situation where I am constantly in pain because of the hurt caused my another...
and I am reminded of how hard it is for me to forgive someone.

I know that God calls me to it, but I can't help but think
 "I don't want to listen to you God. I'm sick of listening. You ask too much. It hurts."
but in my heart he repeats "Seventy times Seven"

Matthew 18:21-22 
"Then Peter came up and said to him, "Lord, how often will my brother sin against me, and I forgive him? As many as seven times?" Jesus said to him, "I do not say to you seven times, but seventy times seven."

It doesn't matter how much pain you're in, how mad you are, or how much you think you deserve better. 
God loves you and God loves them just as much.
God forgave you, therefore we must forgive others...even if that means again and again and again.
Because in fact, if we continue to live in bitterness, then we will miss out on what God has for us.

This week, I am praying for a forgiving heart like my Father's in Heaven.