I have noticed an interesting thing happens while I vacuum the floor at the church. Something often comes into my mind, usually from in the past--a hurt, an offense, or some painful memory, and I end up thinking on it as I clean. Now there are two ways to think about these memories, and I guess you could say that while I vacuum a battle between good and evil goes on. Do I dwell on these offenses and let the root of bitterness deepen, or do I examine the situation, realize how it has negatively or positively it has affected my life, and give it over to God? I have both won and lost in these battles. Some wounds run deeper, and if I have held onto them, then they are going to be brought up again for me to face until I make the right decision to let them go.
Today in church, a scripture passage was used: John 20:21-23 Then said Jesus to them again, Peace be unto you: as my Father hath sent me, even so send I you. And when he had said this, he breathed on them, and saith unto them, Receive ye the Holy Ghost: Whose soever sins ye remit, they are remitted unto them; and whose soever sins ye retain, they are retained.
This really caught my interest. Jesus had been betrayed by one of his buddies, denied by another , killed on the cross, and raised from the dead. He met up with the disciples, and one of the very first things He tells them to do is FORGIVE.
In the wisdom of the world, Jesus had every right to not forgive those who killed him. He could have called ten thousand angels to destroy the world and set Himself free, yet He chose to forgive his persecutors. He also asked God to forgive them, for they knew not what they did. He refused to let unforgiveness take hold and destroy Him.
Jesus knew what emotions the disciples were going through. Their rabbi, their Lord, and best friend, was brutally killed---because of their friend and fellow disciple Judas, the Romans, and even the Jews themselves. Peter also had part of this because he denied Christ three times instead of serving as a witness to his innocence. They were all dealing with anguish, mourning, despair, sadness, bitterness, and unforgiveness toward others and themselves. Jesus knew that if this unforgiveness was not dealt with immediately, that it would grow into a root of bitterness from which they would never recover. This bitterness could eventually destroy them, and possibly destroy the future church before it had even become anything.
This really hit home with me today. Years ago, I witnessed a terrible thing that has forever affected me. Memory of this act has brought me pain for years. Something cruel and unnecessary happened that hurt a lot of young girls, and I witnessed it, powerless to change what happened. I guess I never forgave the person who did this, because this is what was brought to my attention as I was vacuuming the church yesterday. Forgiving doesn't make all the hurt go away, or lessen the act that was committed. But healing cannot happen until the wound has been cleansed and the root of bitterness removed. So today I forgive. I cannot control what happened, and I cannot change it, nor could I have made any difference when it happened. I cannot control what this person does or what they are like. It is not up to me to change anyone else, it is up to me to forgive and not let this act cause any more damage to my life. I will forgive every time this memory resurfaces, every time that the enemy tries to bring it up and cause bitterness to grow in me again. I will pray that somehow, the lives that were damaged years ago in this incident will not be forgotten by God, that the seeds that were planted years ago will sprout in them, that He will bring them into a relationship with Him, that their wounds will be cleansed and healed.
If Jesus can forgive, I can, too. And it is nice to know that there is no limit to His forgiveness. He has to forgive me over and over, too--I sin. I hurt Him terribly. I go to Him, ask Him to forgive me, and He never withholds it. He never remembers it against me. He knows that the best thing to do is forgive immediately. So today I choose to forgive, no matter what. I forgive. Let the restoration begin.