"Then Peter came to Jesus and asked, ‘Lord, how many times shall I forgive my brother or sister who sins against me? Up to seven times?' Jesus answered, ‘I tell you, not seven times, but seventy-seven times.'" Matthew 18:21-22 (NIV)
I was so confused. I was talking to God, but it seemed He wasn't talking to me. There seemed to be a barrier between us. I was a single 20-year-old who needed to make an important decision about my future, but I wasn't hearing from God.
Mr. Thorp was an older, godly gentleman who mentored my Christian friends and me in our teen years. After a Bible study meeting, I asked him to pray for me.
"Let's read some Scripture about prayer before we pray," Mr. Thorp suggested.
First he turned to Matthew 18:19-22, which says:
"Again, truly I tell you that if two of you on earth agree about anything you ask for, it will be done for them by my Father in heaven. For where two or three gather in my name, there am I with them.”
"Then Peter came to Jesus and asked, ‘Lord, how many times shall I forgive my brother or sister who sins against me? Up to seven times?' Jesus answered, ‘I tell you, not seven times, but seventy-seven times.'"
Every passage Mr. Thorp turned to regarding God answering prayer had verses about forgiveness either before it or after it. He stopped reading, looked me in the eye, and said, "Sharon, I sense that God is telling you that you have unforgiveness in your heart. Have you forgiven your father for what he did to you and what he withheld from you?" (Mr. Thorp had walked with me on my spiritual journey and knew very well what had gone on in my home.)
I was stunned. "Mr. Thorp," I respectfully replied. "I came here to pray about my future, not talk about my past."
"But, Sharon, God can't talk to you about your future until you obey Him regarding your past."
It was a rough morning, but a good one.
At that time, I'd been a Christian for seven years. My father came to Christ six years after I did. He'd been a violent, heavy drinker with a rage disorder who gambled, indulged in pornography and had affairs. Dad hit my mom, terrorized my brother and treated me as if I were non-existent.
When he gave his life to Christ, he was truly a new creation.
The change was (and still is) one of the most miraculous transformations I've ever seen. Only Almighty God could have orchestrated the twists and turns that led my father to the cross.
However, I had a nagging resentment toward my dad, which I clung to with a closed fist. Yes, I saw the change, but no, I didn't trust him. I didn't even like him. I still had nightmares, fits of fear and trigger points of panic. Whenever Dad made a mistake - because he still wasn't perfect - the bitterness of my childhood rose up. God was speaking to me through Mr. Thorp, saying, "Now's the time to let it go."
Mr. Thorp and I spent hours talking through the pain of my past and the purpose of forgiveness. We prayed. I cried. Finally, in my heart, I could sense myself releasing years of hurt and anger. In turn, God filled my heart with a tender love of a daughter who saw her dad through the lens of grace. I was free.
Amazingly, after forgiving my father, my inability to hear from God was lifted. I knew exactly what I was supposed to do. I'm not saying that once you forgive, everything in life falls into place. However, my refusal to forgive my earthly father hampered my communion with my heavenly Father.
So here's what God's asking you and me today ... Is there someone in your life you haven't forgiven? It's time to let it go. Forgiveness isn't saying that what the person did was right, and it doesn't necessarily mean you reconcile. But forgiveness does mean you're going to let go of the angry resentment, give the person to God and live free. Remember, the only person we hurt when we choose not to forgive is ourselves.
Jesus didn't tether our forgiveness to the caveat that someone we forgive has changed or asked for forgiveness. Why? Forgiveness really isn't about the other person at all ... it's about what we choose to do to forgive as Christ forgave us, and set ourselves free.
Lord, today I choose to forgive _________ for ____________. I have been terribly hurt [misused, abused], but I'm not going to allow the offense to control me any longer. Just as You've forgiven me, I now forgive ____________. I relinquish any need for revenge and place the consequences of this person's action in Your hands. In Jesus' Name, Amen.
If you prayed that prayer of forgiveness, leave a comment and say, "I did it!" Let's celebrate together.
TRUTH FOR TODAY:
Mark 11:25-26 "Therefore I tell you, whatever you ask for in prayer, believe that you have received it, and it will be yours. And when you stand praying, if you hold anything against anyone, forgive them, so that your Father in heaven may forgive you your sins." (NIV)
Do voices in your head tell you you're not good enough, smart enough, or just not enough period? Do they say you can't forgive others or forgive yourself? It's time to stop listening to the lies and preload your heart with the truth to fight your deepest insecurities. Check out Sharon Jaynes' book, Enough: Silencing the Lies that Steal Your Confidence, and start believing: Because of Jesus, you are enough!
Join Sharon in the FREE "Mindset-Reset: 7 Days to Transforming your Thought Life" by replacing the lies that steal your confidence with God's truth.
REFLECT AND RESPOND:
Read Matthew 6:8-15. Who is God calling you to forgive today? What's holding you back?
© 2018 by Sharon Jaynes. All rights reserved.