Do you believe by forgiving we release and open a space in our hearts for something wonderful to grow? I’ve seen amazing blessings grow in my life and believe they sprouted when I forgave. This truth becomes sweeter and stronger the longer I live. God has burdened my heart to write stories that show the importance of forgiveness. Sharing personal (not easy to do) and Biblical stories of forgiveness reminds me (and you I pray) to forgive and forget as God does with each of us. When we honestly and humbly ask forgiveness, our hearts grow great things that bless us and others.
Do we embrace forgiveness with meaning or merely say ‘sorry’ and move on without remorse? This message penetrated my heart while reading a book Jamie, my son’s wife, gave me for Christmas in 2009. Her personal note inside the front cover read, “…hope you enjoy reading this maybe one rainy day at Topsail – always the best days to curl up and read! Love, Jamie”
Her great gift waited in a basket by my chair at Topsail for three years. I started reading it several times but other obligations always called me from my favorite past time. Taking time to read (especially the Good Book) is good for us every day, not just when the rain comes and floods our world.
My rainy day at Topsail came this fall (God’s perfect timing) when I picked up Jamie’s book, Words to Live By, by C.S. Lewis and read to my heart’s content. Lewis’ words breathed new life into words and concepts from A to Z that have dulled through time and familiarity. His writings made me think. He hit home on key topics in the Christian life with words we should truly live by. Lewis’ three pages on forgiveness inspired me to think about my life and look inside my heart, as I hope you will while reading this story. Forgiveness is essential for happiness here and eternity in heaven. We read this in God’s Word but has the message dulled in our hearts and homes? Do we miss wonderful things in this life when we refuse to forgive? Will we miss heaven by allowing unforgiveness to remain stuck deep down inside – make excuses for why we shouldn’t forgive – while waiting for someone else to forgive first? This is dangerous living that no one should dare do.
Do we ask God to forgive us or to excuse us? Lewis wrote, “Forgiveness says, ‘Yes, you have done this thing, but I accept your apology. I will never hold it against you and everything between us two will be exactly as it was before.’ But excusing says, ‘I see that you couldn’t help it or didn’t mean it, you weren’t really to blame…’ Real forgiveness means looking steadily at the sin, the sin that is left over without any excuse, after all allowance have been made, and seeing it in all its horror, dirt, meanness and malice, and nevertheless being wholly reconciled to the man who had done it.”
Do we really forgive? When Tim was sick and we believed for a miracle of God’s healing power, our son, Cameron came to us with a great lesson on the power of forgiveness. He knew there were people we needed to forgive. Cameron knelt beside his Dad’s chair with his Bible in hand and humility in his heart. His reminder of words to live by sharpened our awareness of what we knew was right to do, realizing time had dulled the power of seeking forgiveness when we felt we weren’t wrong. Sometimes, we bury things deeply and dare not admit that unforgiveness is stuck inside our hearts. When Tim and I wrote letters of forgiveness and delivered them personally, we took the first step to healing. The release of deep rooted unforgiveness gives room inside for beautiful things to grow. Amazing things happened within hours of delivering those letters asking for forgiveness. Those precious, personal blessings are tucked safely in my heart and replayed often in my mind. Seeing the power of forgiveness work miracles in your own life is humbling. It propels one to tell the whole world to stop living in stubbornness and enjoy the fruit of forgiveness.
God sees our hearts, even those chambers securing secrets we think are safely tucked away, out of sight and out of mind. What we forget is that God brings all things out in the open sooner or later. He waits on us to be of good courage and strengthen our hearts by obeying His Word, while keeping our hearts clean and in tune to His calling. I encourage you to forgive, to go to people who have wronged you or those you have wronged and ask forgiveness, to obey His Word, to trust God as you take the first step in faith, to clean out your heart today… for there’s no other way to be happy in Jesus than to trust and obey.
Next week, I will share the rest of the story of how forgiving and seeking His will continue to open spaces in my heart for wonderful things to grow.