What is God teaching me right now? That even as we experience a new kind of closeness, He wants to bring wholeness to me by bringing down the barriers between us. As I “humble myself, pray and seek the face of God,” in His grace He is uncovering in me ways that I haven’t wanted to look at before.
You see, through the years, God has given me a great desire for people–to be kind, to love, to be a peacemaker. The flipside of that openness is a tendency to protect myself from the deep hurt I inevitably feel in my relationships by sitting above as Judge– analyzing, categorizing, determining wrongs and motivations.
It’s so easy to feel offended. For all the right reasons. Having to live with the flaws in friends, family members, co-workers, neighbours, and church family…Having to put up with ignorance, arrogance, indifference, lack of consideration…All of course, after having sincerely heaped goodness, kindness, patience and all the other fruit of the Spirit on these very same people…Hmph. In my own eyes, that is…
It’s easy to justify offence, so much so that it doesn’t even look like offence, but masquerades in our lives as concern for others, or hurt, or righteous indignation.
God is showing me through much soul-searching that forgiveness isn’t just shutting out the pain and repeating the words, “I forgive you,” with as much conviction as I can muster. It’s letting go of my right to put offenders in their place. (Oh, and can I really admit that I want to put them there–to their face, behind their back, or even in my imagination?)
Forgiveness is dealing with offences at a supernatural level. I hate to say it, but I really don’t pray for those who’ve hurt me. I prefer not to think about them. I hide in my busyness, in the things that are “truly important”—things I do indeed need to think about. And I’m more than civil—hey, I’m downright genuinely kind—to my offenders. But in my heart, I don’t really want them to succeed, to be prosperous, to be blessed, free and full of joy. Not until they really hear from God. Not until they stop what they’re doing, or meet my needs in the way that they should. Not until they realize how frustrating my life has been because of what they did.
God is showing me that He can give me the will to intercede powerfully for those who have hurt me—intentionally or unintentionally—so that in a sense, He can use me as a spiritual advocate to pour out every good thing into their lives. Now that would have to be supernatural. That’s forgiveness. Remind you of Anyone?
God is asking more of me. And He’s equipping me to go there. And He’s freeing me, and healing me as I let Him be God.
I’ve heard it said, “Sure, I have a right to be offended. But not if I want to be in the presence of God.”