Gulp of Forgiveness –
By B.J. Funk –
Nowhere is the sting of hurt more prominent than in your church.
Pain received is more hurtful in church because it’s just not supposed to happen there. That’s the one place we can count on to be filled with love. That’s the one place we can go where love should move from pew to pew in such a way that we leave feeling more filled with the Spirit of God than when we came in.
But that’s not always what happens. And if you are the recipient of that hurt, something inside of you dies. Sometimes the pain is so real that you don’t want to go back. Though you try not to, you dwell on the hurt daily, questioning more and more how this person who hurt you does not recognize the impact of the hurt she/he has given you. It was personal. It was deliberate. It had the power to suck life away from you.
That’s how I felt when it happened to me. I struggled with a thorn in my flesh called unforgiveness. The things I knew didn’t matter. What did I know? I knew that I could not teach God’s Word if my heart was in the sewer of unforgiveness. I knew that I could not hide the foul smell of the gutter unless I escaped that stench. I knew I had to be a clean vessel in order for the Holy Spirit to use me. I knew all of that. It didn’t matter. I was hurt, and hurt by any name is still hurt. It jumps into your heart with a deceptive grin, saying “You’re right. He’s wrong. Stand up for yourself.”
I prayed daily. Hourly. Consistently. “God, show me what to do. Talk to me. Please give me guidance.”
One night before I went to bed, a scripture came to mind. Suddenly. Out of nowhere. Before I closed my eyes in sleep, I recalled, “Father, forgive them. They don’t know what they are doing” (Luke 23:34).
“Oh, I think this person did know, Lord. It was intentional. Manipulative. Targeted. Personal.” Then I went to sleep.
I don’t know how to explain to you what happened next. I guess I could say that during the night, I had a visitor. My mind wasn’t involved and that was good because then I could not argue with the thoughts implanted in my spirit. It had to have been a Holy Spirit encounter. An encounter that needed my brain to hush. Explaining this in simple terms, I think the Holy Spirit brought a broom, mop, suds, scrubbing brush, and Clorox and worked on me while I slept. The Holy Spirit cleaned out the debris of unforgiveness that I harbored. When I awoke the next morning, I immediately knew I was different. The tumor of unforgiveness was gone!
A definition on forgiveness jumped into my heart: “Forgiveness is giving up my right to hurt you for hurting me.”
When my brain struggles with this definition, I win the contest between right and wrong every time. Simply put, I am right. My brain has an extensive list to combat the actions of the perpetrator. A list of all the things this person has intentionally done to hurt me. When my brain gets involved, I do have the right. I can bring out that numbered list and go straight down it, one by one, reminding myself why I can hold that unforgiveness until the other party confesses and comes to me to repent.
News flash. Excuse my language, but “that ain’t happening.”
I got out of bed that morning feeling lighter. I was no longer living with the unforgiveness tumor. I felt wonderful. I felt free.
The thought that jumped in my head was: You just had a gulp of forgiveness
Ahhhh yes. It was a large gulp. A refreshing gulp. A gulp of freedom. Layer after layer of unforgiveness slipped off of me as I moved around my home. I knew something beautiful and dramatic had happened.
Thank you my “always there for me Jesus.” Thank you for not holding it against me while I had the tumor.
Thank you for loving me enough to take it away. Thank you, Jesus.
B.J. Funk is Good News’ long-time devotional columnist and author of It’s A Good Day for Grace, available on Amazon.