Friday, May 7, 2010

Freedom Through Forgiveness - Life Action in ACTION

Well, Life Action has come and gone but I continue to see their messages work in my life.  The 2nd Sunday night they were at our church they did a lesson on forgiveness and living with a clear conscience.  Their definition was "The ability to say, 'There is no one alive that I have ever wronged, offended, or hurt in any way that I have not gone back to and made it right with God and with them'".  I am sure not many could raise their hands to that statement.  They challenged us to make a list of people who have wronged us or that we have wronged and commit to making it right again.  The action list was this:

1.  Make a list - take the most difficult ones first
2.  Make contact
3.  Make a confession: "I was wrong"
4. Make opportunity for response: "Will you please forgive me?"
5. Make restitution (for example, if you stole something, give it back)
6.  Make a friend - restore the relationship (if possible and not a threat to your marriage/family)

And how we can look at that list and have excuses or hesitations on certain steps such as:

1.  It happened a long time ago.
2.  They moved away.
3.  It was so small.
4.  Things have gotten better.
5.  It involved money. (I don't have enough to pay it back)
6.  They won't understand.
7.  They were mostly wrong.
8.  It happened before I was saved.

That was the message...but then they gave you homework which I completed during my quiet time.  Part of this homework was making the list of people who wronged you.  Next to each name you were to write the offense that the person committed against you then record how you responded to their wrong doing.  During the message, Steve challeneged us to complete this part and commit to the list.  He said if you commit to the list, God will make it happen...even if the person moved away.  They gave examples of how God worked in others lives...running into the person in another state, running into the parent of the person and getting the phone number of the person who was on the list, etc.  Then we prayed and raised our hands if we were willing to commit to the list.  And I did (didn't make the list out til the homework the next day).  The homework walked you through a checklist of ways that people have hurt you such as being lied to, rejected, treated unfairly by an employer, abandoned, publicly humiliated, abused (physically, emotionally, and/or sexually), broken promises, slandered/falsely accused, etc (these were the ones I checked but there were others).  It walked you through the feelings associated with this...still feeling angry or bitter toward the person or situation, have a secret desire to see payback for what they did, telling others what happened, saying negative things about the person, and not being able to thank God for the person (oh, wow...really...we have to do that too?!)  Then it walked you through things Jesus suffered through and how forgiving and merciful He is, how He reacted to wrong doings (Verses to reference: Isaiah 53:3-7, Psalm 22:6-7, 16, Ephesians 2:4-5, Isaiah 43:25, Hebrews 10:17, Micah 7:18-19).  God commands us to do the same (verses to reference: Luke 6:27, Romans 12:17-21, Colossians 3:13, Luke 17:3-4).  We might say "They don't deserve to be forgiven but what did we do to earn or derserve God's forgiveness?  NOTHING"(Romans 5:8, Ephesians 2:4-9).  The study says "Remember: letting them offender off of your hook does not mean they are off of God's hook.  Forgiveness involves transferring the preson over to the One who is able and responsible to mete out justice.  It relieves us of the burden and responsibiltiy to hold them in prison ourselves (ahh....very freeing).  Something to think about: Would I be willing for God to deal with me in the same way that I want to see my offender dealt with? (  It goes on to say "Remember: Forgiveness is not forgetting.  It is a transaction in which I release my debtor from the obligation to repay his debt.  God promises not to remember our sins or to hold them against us".

Thankfully, God has given me the ability to choose forgiveness in my life.  As a very young person, I was always able to forgive people and move on.  This has been a very good trait to have but it has also wounded me further by people who have taken advatage of this.  Doing this study really made me think of some of the wrongs done to me and really stirred up my heart.  I can tell by the lack of dealing with some of these issues had been really working negatively in my life.  It became very easy for me to do that final part of the study: Making a list of the people who have wronged me.  I wrote 7 people down, their offense, and my response.  Then we were to pray and thank God for each person who has wounded me because they are His instruments to humble me and to mold and conform me to the image of Jesus.  I had thought of this before but still felt is was just unfair to go through some of these things.  One thing that really convicted me in the message was asking forgiveness (to the offender) for not representing Christ...we claim to be a Christian but we haven't acted like one.  I looked at my list and in every situation, I did not represent Christ in any of them.  Wow...that seemed really hard to do looking back at the circumstances of the wrong doing.  The next step was to confess to God, and then to the OFFENDER, any wrong responses you may have had (unforgiveness, hatred, bitterness, gossip, etc) I committed to that and started at the top of the list.  I got through the first two fairly easily and then things got hectic for a week or so.  We had the revival the remainder of the week, appointments, and were preparing to leave town on a short getaway (my husband and I and another couple).  The list had slipped my mind but God had been stirring my heart over a person.  This person was on my mind constantly.  They were showing up in dreams where I ran into them.  Even where we vacationed reminded me of the person (I went there with the person for the first time).  God stratetically placed that in my life at that percise moment.  I kept hearing music that the person listened to.  It was driving me nuts...why was this person on my mind and heart?  I hadn't heard from the person in at least 4 years, and they moved far away almost 8 years ago.  So I thought there must be a reason all these things are happening.  I thought about seeing if they were on facebook...I had tried a year ago and they weren't on.  So Sunday I thought, maybe I'll see if they are on now...I do need to see if a few other of my friends and neighbors joined.  Sunday came and went and I never got time to look.  Then came Monday...I came inside on Monday to feed the kids lunch and decided to check my email real fast and guess what was in my inbox?  A friend request from that person!  I nearly fell out of my chair!  This creepy feeling came over me...the part of the message where Steve said if you commit to the list, God will bring the person to you.  So I checked my list...I wasn't even sure the person was on it.  I remember thinking I should put them on list but was thinking I didn't want to deal with it.  Mostly for the sheer fact that I would have to look at all the mistakes I made with that person and the fact that I in no way held up my end of the bargain to represent Christ and hold true to what I believed in (instead submitting to peer pressure and wanted to be loved and filled up by a person and not my Savior).  Sure enough...the last person on the list was this person.  I accepted the friend request, looked at their info including the small number of friends on their page.  We didn't even have 1 mutual friend which tells me they had to actively search for me!  So what now?  I prayed...and have been praying about it.  I haven't done anything with this yet and am just waiting for God to lead me.  I did feel strongly about putting out here for you to read.  Maybe you are going through something similiar and my story will be the push you need to seek out a person.  I am a little nervous about this list now and completing it.  There are a few people on here that I just don't want to face because it's too hard.  But I know that there are blessings to come from my obedience with God and I trust Him with this.  He wouldn't do anything to put me in harms way.  It's just another way for God to use His instrument to mold and conform me into the image of Jesus.  Thank you, God, for each person who has wounded me!

Two things to note:  I am not sure how soon you will see pictures on here.  My camera has been hit or miss on working...I think our trip put my camera into rest mode.  Yesterday, I took some pictures of the kids feeding geese at the park and then of them crying when they swarmed us (well, that happened but I didn't take pictures of that part) and they all turned out like white pages...ugh).

Also, I added the "follower" option to the right side of the blog...if you follow my blog, I would love for you to hit the "follow" button.  I would love to see who's out there reading.  There are many people who have contacted me that I had no idea followed so I thought this would be a great feature to add.  Thanks!

Oh, and I haven't thought of any good tips in awhile.  My mind is drawing a blank...if you have a good tip to share, please tell me and give me permission to add it to my tip of the week at the top!  Please!

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