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The Weed of Unforgiveness

My Friend Debbie      Sometimes in our Christian walk we obliviously proceed as if all is right with the world and us. It has been my experience that this is particularly true at the point in which I have been asked to teach at a women's retreat or other function. But I have been walking with the Lord long enough to know that no matter the topic of the teaching I have been asked to present, that is actually an area of my life in which the Lord wants to do a work. A word to the wise: whenever you are asked to teach a Bible study, women's retreat, or other such function, hold on to your hat because you're in for a wild ride.      Such was the case a number of years ago when I was asked to teach at a Calvary Chapel Santa Fe Springs Women's Retreat on the subject of forgiveness. Ok. Forgiveness. Well, that shouldn't be too difficult since there were many times in my life when I had to forgive others for things big and small.

WHO do I need to forgive?

     I sought the Lord for His guidance in what He wanted me to present. The logical starting place was to ask God if there were any people in my life whom I had neglected to forgive. He brought to mind a few less-than-obvious-ones like a sister in the Lord whom I just plain didn't get along with and an old neighbor who had fallen into drug addiction. I dutifully went to my sister in Christ and asked for her forgiveness, knowing that I could not effectively teach God's message if I harbored unforgiveness in my heart towards another. She graciously forgave me and also asked forgiveness for her heart and attitude toward me. Ironically, she was teaching at the same retreat, and God individually took each of us to task regarding our behavior and attitude toward one another. God is a redeemer God and He graciously and completely not only restored the relationship, He gave us a deep and abiding friendship as a result of our obedience to Him. Even today, I count her as one of my true and abiding friends

Who else, Lord?

     All right, I thought. Now for the neighbor whom I had been quite disrespectful toward because of his sinful life-style choices.I argued with God about going to him. "He wouldn't understand, and, after all, wouldn't that be like casting my pearls before swine?" I asked. But the Lord would not relent. The timing finally converged in the parking lot of the local grocery store on Mother's Day that year. I ran into the man, rushed toward him and blurted out an apology for being so judgmental toward him regarding his drug addiction and unseemly behavior. The man responded in a way I never could have anticipated. There in the grocery store parking lot, he wept. He said that it was he who owed me an apology for a number of things which had transpired over the years.

     "Well, there you have it, Lord" I thought. I took care of asking for forgiveness from both my friend and my neighbor. After all, what a great testimony about apologizing to the drug addict in the grocery store parking lot. "Ok, Lord, I'm ready now for the amazing message you would have me convey to your daughters," I prayed. But nothing came. No insightful words. No amazing new revelation from scripture. Nothing came.My Friend Debbie Time was getting short. The retreat was only a few weeks away and I still didn't have a message to share. Sure, I had scoured scripture for all the verses and teachings on forgiveness. But there was a restlessness in my heart. I knew that if the message I brought was from ME and not from the Lord, it would be all wrong. That was simply unacceptable, so I waited and sought the Lord.

You want me to apologize to him?

     Then it happened one day, quite unexpectedly. I was standing in front of the house of someone who had harmed me as a child. I suffered emotional, physical and sexual abuse at the hands of this man. The wounds were deep. The crimes unspeakable. There I stood outside waiting to pick up something or other. I never went inside the house, the memories were too terrible. While I was waiting in that uncomfortable state where you are being obedient to God (going to that house), but really struggling with the whole situation (I wanted to run), the Lord showed me that I had never forgiven the man for what he had done to me. I argued with God. "Please Lord, ask me to forgive anybody but him," I pleaded. After all, I was tolerant enough with him. I did not refuse to see him. I did not disown him or refuse to allow his family to be a part of my life. I had done enough, and more than would be expected, I reasoned.

The Weed

     But the Lord was asking more of me. While I stood out in my grassy yard, , the most surreal thing happened. I realized that I literally had begun moving a huge weed with my foot. I was pushing it one way, then another. Back and forth. Back and forth. It was the strangest thing because the weed was at least six to eight inches high. The grass on which I was standing was mowed, yet there was this one weed that stood so tall compared to everything else around it.

     I continued fussing with the weed and arguing with God. I couldn't believe God was asking me to forgive him! "Him" was someone who had hurt me in deep ways to the point that I didn't even want to think about him, let alone take the initiative to forgive him. I knew in my spirit that the teaching on forgiveness would never come if I didn't obey. But I simply couldn't forgive him for the horrible things he had done. Then the Lord laid on my heart that not only was He asking me to forgive him, He wanted me to love this man too! It was simply unthinkable! I continued to argue with the Lord, pleading for Him to relent in His request that I forgive and then love this man.

Do not be afraid

     The Lord spoke to my heart and revealed that I was actually afraid of letting go of my anger and unforgiveness because it had become such a big part of me. The Lord nudged me to literally reach down and pull that weed. I obeyed. When I did, of course, I was amazed at how big and thick the main root was, but I never expected all the smaller roots. Upon a closer look, I realized there were even roots as fine as hairs coming off the main root. The object lesson was so stunning. The Lord provided a visual of how my unforgiveness was like the weed with all its roots. Sure, I was aware of the large main root of never forgiving this man, but I did not realize how it had grown so big, permeating so much of my heart. The most startling part, however, was the hole that was left behind. The Lord showed me that it was actually the hole that would be left behind that frightened me most. Then He calmly assured me that HE would fill the space left in my heart if I allowed Him to remove the weed of unforgiveness with its ball of roots. He assured me that He would fill my heart, give me HIS love for this man and allow me to show Christ's love and forgiveness in a way that I never could have without allowing Christ to teach me first.

I was FREE!

     The teaching at the retreat was moving. There was not a dry eye in the house. Most importantly, the time of ministry and healing afterward was nothing less than miraculous. God is so good. When we truly seek His wisdom, guidance and knowledge for our lives, He will do the work.

     I'm pleased to report that the man involved has come to a saving knowledge of Christ as a direct result of me loving Him with a supernatural love that came from Christ in me. He, as always, was faithful to His promise to me and filled my heart with so much love. I now have eyes to see others in a way that only comes from seeking and receiving God's vision of others. This process of forgiveness has enabled me to see past the behavior and actions to the hurt behind the acts of violence.

     Though I often fall short, I am free now of the chains of unforgiveness. My prayer for you is that you will allow the Lord to reveal those areas in your life where you are harboring unforgiveness, then allow the Master Gardener to pull the weeds and fill your soul. You, too, can find freedom!

Copyright © 2008-2015 Kerriél Bailey, Esq.

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