Forgiveness broadens our territory, a wonderful thing and sometimes frightening as well. It can be like turning the corner on a new road, unfamiliar, our breath may shallow or halt altogether if we can’t discern whether we’ve turned the wrong way on a one way or not.
Having recently moved I regularly find myself realizing that there are many places where I simply cannot see beyond my current location, I’ve never been there. It’s a strange feeling after living somewhere else more familiar.
In a well rested state of mind there are times when this is an adventure I enjoy, but there are other days, tired and worn days, where I sense an ache inside me and sometimes fears too. I find myself hugging the shoulder of the road a little too tightly, the way I would try to hold onto the side of the pool before I learned how to swim.
It is grace when I realize this is happening and I can remember to take a deep breath, relax my shoulders, unfurl my brow and loosen my grip.
Living and praying forgiveness can also be a familiar place and way in our lives,
“And forgive us our sins as we forgive those who have sinned against us…”
Yet, at the same time, living forgiveness never seems to allow us to stay in one place long. It’s a good thing the way forgiveness broadens our boundaries and leads us beyond our comfort zones, but a challenge.
Sometimes when in need of rest —wounded — turning the corner of forgiveness can make our breath shallow or halt altogether too. Pain and fear play upon our hearts and can create confusion over whether we should proceed or even how to. Crouching on the sidelines, ignoring the need to merge onto unfamiliar byways seems easier, safer.
One of the most dire areas of need for clarity and comfort is when it comes to forgiving evil people, whether strangers or loved ones.
Hold onto this: we do not forgive evil. Deeply wounded souls by an evil person often do not understand this, but it’s true. We are to hate evil. (Proverbs 8:13, Romans 12:9)
It is grace to be able to forgive the people in the the grip of evil. It is grace to walk through the fear of forgiving the evildoer, instead of believing the lie that forgiving them will put us beneath their “power” again.
Speaking out-loud their specific sins against us in the place called prayer is our starting place and we see in Scripture many times where immorality and sin are boldly brought into the public light of day as well. Challenge of injustice is not wrong, but un-forgiveness is.
Grace that is available to us, here and now, leads the way to releasing the evildoer from our un-forgiveness and delivering us from destruction and misery of soul. Grace is strength and power through Messiah in us, overcoming that evil.
Light. Truth. Wholeness. Soundness of mind. Peace of spirit. Redemption. Restoration. Rest. These are the promises of God for those who follow in His way of Mercy. So is recompense and justice, but it must be His, He will repay.
This is not a victim’s way, it is for overcomers, brave adventurers, and truth standers, who truth be told, know intimately what it feels like to be “lost and bedraggled sheep”. But, we have a Guide and Shepherd who does not leave us alone in our lonely places. He can see beyond our present circumstances, around the next corner, when we cannot.
I am the good Shepherd. The good Shepherd lays down His life for the sheep. — Jesus, John 10:11
I hope that if you are wounded and reading this you will look to Jesus. He is all that He says and not in just some ethereal way. Although we “do not wage war as the world does” and our “weapons are not the weapons of the world” His power is real and able to demolish strongholds, arguments, and evil pretensions.
Look at how righteous Job lived right and just (“breaking the fangs of the wicked and snatching victims from their teeth”), or Daniel, calling an unbelieving king to stop ruling unjustly.
On the other hand, His power IS “ethereal” too, able to bring even thoughts of our hearts into obedience. All we have to do is bring our hearts, with willingness. This is not a denial of honesty, brokenness or raw truth, it is hope in the face of them.
I have been reading, listening and telling the stories of persecuted (imprisoned, forsaken, beaten, crucified) Christians for two decades now. If anyone ever had a reason to be bitter surely they do… Yet, the treasure of their communion with Messiah is an authentic, sweet and supernatural (yet very physical) gift of forgiveness.
They often are known to say that they are not extraordinary people but rather ordinary people in extraordinary circumstances experiencing the grace, the lovingkindness, of God, deeply.
I have observed it is not a feeling they wait for, it is a command they follow. I have seen a supernatural overflow of blessings in their lives because of this way they walk.
Unfurling our brows, taking a deep breath — sometimes it seems like the least safe — when in reality, we are putting ourselves in greatest danger clinging too close to the sidelines. A strange juxtaposition, that is hungry for wisdom to make sense of it all.
“Behold, I am sending you out as sheep in the midst of wolves, so be wise as serpents and innocent as doves.”
— Jesus, Matthew 10:16
“Love is something more stern and splendid than mere kindness.”
This is territory beyond us, we need direction and counsel to move forward. Praying forgiveness is the safest place partly because we do not need to have all the answers there. We can cry out for mercy to battle, not in our strength alone. Real power that overcomes evil is available there.
Whether in communist ridden or ISIS ruled lands or even small town, USA, a very real spiritual battle is engaging. The enemy’s goal is destruction but Jesus’ church in under careful construction. They are a people who can know the freedom and joy that Joseph knew. He knew what it meant to be forsaken, not only by strangers, but by family, and he declared,
“So it was not you who sent me here, but God…”
—Joseph, Genesis 45:8
“Walk out of the gates. Get going!
Get the road ready for the people.
Build the highway. Get at it!
Clear the debris,
hoist high a flag, a signal to all peoples!
Yes! God has broadcast to all the world:
‘Tell daughter Zion, ‘Look! Your Savior comes,
Ready to do what he said he’d do,
prepared to complete what he promised.’
Zion will be called new names: Holy People, God-Redeemed,
Sought-Out, City-Not-Forsaken.” —Isaiah, in Isaiah 62
I am praying for you and I both this week dear friends. For “the grace of Messiah Yeshua and the love of God and the fellowship of His Holy Spirit to be with us all.”
Forgiveness is also the topic of this week’s Martyrs’ Cross Prayer Companion as we lift up our brothers and sisters persecuted for their faith. Join us here: SUBSCRIBE.
There is great healing and freedom to be experienced as we seek healing and freedom for others. We really are one body.
Raynna, for the whole family
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