First Chapter: Seeing The Light Listen to Chapter 1
“I told you, you are worthless!” came the voice from behind. “God had nothing to do with your existence,” another pounded from the left. Still another mocked, “And you think God loves you?”
Staring at nothing I could identify, through the blur of tears, I just sat there. I can’t remember if I even made a sound as my spirit was beaten almost to death by each word. I had fought so hard against these voices before, and I had won. Over and over, they tried their best to convince me I was useless and unloved. I had pressed forward dragging them behind me.
Struggles to have purpose and value always left me feeling I was pretending. Relationships suffered, never fulfilling my need to be loved. Even after accepting Jesus Christ in 1986, the voices would come to take me away from the security of His love. I managed with the strength of God alone to battle these forces. Somehow each time I managed to overcome. But now these voices seemed to have the ammunition for the final blow that would surely end it all.
My mind struggled with what I knew before and what I knew right then.
Think! Think! My mother had sacrificed nine months to give me life, and Jesus Christ died so I could live. Come on, think! I had made a conscious decision twenty-six years earlier to give my life to Christ. Not one day had I ever regretted that decision. This day Jesus was my only reason to live.
Words are powerful. With all the power of hell, the words cut to my deepest core. “You’re worthless. You have the blood of a rapist running through your veins.” The words pierced my heart. “Oh God!” my insides cried as I could literally feel what seemed like demons pulsating through every vessel in my body. More forcefully the voice said, “The only thing you can do is slash your wrists and let all that nasty blood flow out. No one will miss you.”
The pain was more that I could have ever imagined. I couldn’t get away. Then I heard my own voice saying, “My life doesn’t belong to me. It belongs to Jesus, and I cannot take my life.”
The demonic pulsation stopped. Only a couple of minutes had passed, but I was exhausted. “I may not be able to live, but I cannot kill myself,” I whispered....
Last Chapter: Stepping Into Your Freedom
Here’s an exercise:
With paper and pen write your offender/offenders’ name.
With your mouth say:
“I forgive ________ for ___________________. I release them to you, God, and ask you Jesus to release them too.”
Take this paper and throw it away, along with your unforgiveness.
Speaking of love, “it keeps no record of wrongs” (1 Corinthians 13:5).
I remember when my current marriage was horrible in my viewpoint. I went to everyone trying to get help. But no one seemed brave enough to confront my husband. I was miserable. So I began writing every single offense in a journal. Page after page after journal after journal, I was keeping account over the year. I had a library of offenses.
Then Richard and I were reconciled. We built a new house, and as we were preparing to move, I pulled all these journals out. I started reading them, and it all rushed back on me, feelings of hurt and bitterness. I hadn’t even remembered some of the things I had written!
Then I heard God say to my heart, “Love keeps no record of wrongs. Get rid of them.” Did I really want to hold on to them? Unfortunately I must admit I did. But I realized this was a trap, and I had to choose to do what was right. I loved my husband, and we had forgiven each other. He had not kept my wrongs, and neither did God once I asked for forgiveness.
So I threw them all away. I am walking in the rewards of my obedience. It’s a great feeling now!
Pray that God bless your enemy. With God all things are possible. When you begin to pray for your enemy, it may not be easy at first, but you will begin to see a transformation in your attitude. Something happens, and you start feeling the heart of God for that person.
Hell is an awful place. I can’t even say I would want my worst enemy to go there. Since I already know the great reward in my spirit, mind, and body from forgiveness, I choose not to hold on to any offenses. Even when I am hurt deeply, I force myself to do what God wants. Once I get past my flesh, there is a great relief and the reward of knowing I am more than a conqueror.
Deciding to do what is right is just the first action to back up any commitment to God. The real test will come when you are face to face with your offender or simply as the days pass. It may be hard to “feel” forgiveness, but you are not required to “feel” it. Instead you must “do” it. Be kind toward your offender when you meet them face to face. When you think of that person, remind yourself that you have chosen to forgive. If you have accepted Jesus’ forgiveness, think on how He sees you now. It may have to be a daily exercise until you reach the point of not picking up unforgiveness again. There will always be something to forgive in our lives. It might simply be the guy who cuts us off or our spouse leaving the toothpaste open. The perfection of forgiving is in the practicing.
Jesus says to take up our cross daily. With that constant awareness of what it cost Jesus to give that freedom to us, it will be much easier passing it on to others.
There is no need to tell anyone else that you forgave. This is to be done secretly. Your praise shouldn’t come from people telling you how noble it is that you forgave such a great offense. “Then your father, who sees what is done in secret, will reward you” (Matthew 6:4).
No one likes it when a person brags about what good he has done. Neither does God like boasting. Keep your mouth from speaking offensively during an offense. As your relationship grows with the Lord, you will see more control over your tongue. If you continue to fill your thoughts with the things in God’s word—the Bible—you will see that your mouth will reflect that. “Out of the overflow of the heart the mouth speaks” (Matthew 12:24).
We must think before we speak. How many times did I hear that growing up? That is something I personally struggle with. I totally understand when Peter chopped the ear off of the centurion who was taking Jesus. I can’t understand Peter’s denial of Jesus. Maybe Peter just lived the fear without thinking. I rarely have fear, but I too don’t think long enough before I speak. My mind rushes all over the place like a search engine. If something doesn’t line up with God’s word, I want to eradicate it. Forgiveness isn’t the first thing most of us think about.
God is patient and merciful, slow to anger. If He isn’t jumping my case for everything, then I should be slower with others too. When I am confronted with my wrongs, I’d like to think I am eager to change because I don’t want to stay on the wrong side. Sure, I am like anyone else and don’t enjoy being corrected. An attitude of gratefulness is better in these situations. You can’t have bitterness if you are grateful. I want to be a better person as each day passes, so I look for those things I can be grateful for each day. Most of all I am grateful for Jesus loving me and forgiving me.
Even Jesus couldn’t please everyone, and you won’t either. Rest in the knowledge that all is safe in His hands, and it is not for us to control the world. We are commanded to love as Jesus loved. Controlling ourselves and forgiving others will result in living by the power of God’s love. We must live what Jesus asks of us if we call ourselves Christians, followers of Christ, and anointed ones.
It is truly possible to live in total forgiveness, though it may be hard. Everyone benefits from others living in forgiveness. A great example was my dear friend. This precious woman was absolutely a shining example of God’s love and forgiveness. Pastor Linda Shanks never raised her voice and always had a good word for everyone. Love overflowed from her every moment. She gave her love freely, even to those who tried to ruin her. Yes, she showed love to her enemies and never sought revenge. She didn’t even talk badly about them. Goodness and mercy followed her all the days of her life because that is what she left behind for everyone she touched. She lived a life of complete forgiveness. It was amazing to see at her funeral all the lives changed by her life of forgiveness. She is greatly missed because everyone wants to be around someone who freely forgives. Our eyes are opened wide as we see just what her life has contributed. There is nothing that anyone can say about this woman except that she loved God and she loved people without reservation. It is possible to forgive through the love of Jesus. What a great way to leave our legacy to be passed on for generations. We are inspired to do good when we see good being done. Why not take that first step to do good—to love through forgiveness?
Love is patient, love is kind. It does not envy, it does not boast, it is not proud. It is not rude, it is not self-seeking, it is not easily angered, it keeps no record of wrongs. Love does not delight in evil but rejoices with the truth. It always protects, always trusts, always hopes, always preserves.
1 Corinthians 13:4-7
As time goes on, more discoveries show the truth of the Bible. God does not separate the mind and the body from the soul at this time. There will be a time when they will be separated, but for now they affect each other. What we think does affect our body and soul. What we do with our body affects our mind and soul. Finally all will prosper when our soul prospers.
Without Jesus we are only feeding ourselves artificial substance.
We must move forward in truth if we are to move forward at all. I have prayed for you before you even picked this book up. That prayer is for your total freedom in forgiveness, first in the forgiveness that is through Jesus Christ. He alone can forgive us from our imperfections, called sin. He alone is the substitute for the punishment we all deserved.
But you alone can choose to take that payment for yourself.