This message has resonated deep within my spirit, my mind drifted back to a season where God released me of the same unforgiving spirit. The story goes likes this...
It involved a lawn mower, a fence post and whole lot of sweat and tears. It was hot summer day, I was about the business of mowing our yard, my weekly chore. I didn't want to be there, I never did. Because our yard is only modified pasture grass, there are country surprises hidden like dirt holes, tire tracks, mole mounds and tunnels. There was one obstacle that I had forgotten, that was hidden and deeply planted. It was an old rusted and buried and broken-off steel fence post buried 3-feet-deep in the yard. The top of the jagged steel was barely peeking over the blades of grass. I didn't notice how close I was mowing next to it, until of course, it was too late. Thwack! Imagine the mower blade-on collision with the post. It stopped my mower cold.
Hitting that cold steel place with the mower blade also collided my heart attitude. It stopped right my unlovely temperament too. "Time to cool off". I told myself. I had to catch my breath a little.
I went to cool off in the house and I swigged down some icy cold refreshing water, cooling me inside and out. However, I felt anger rising up in my frustrated heart. Did you know that mowers have a sense of humor? Deep inside it's grass laden underbelly, that old mower was laughing hysterically at me . My frustration fueled by escalating anger equaled an invitation to the biggest pity party on the mile section that day.
It was a party of two. Me and God.
I looked down at the problem post and said, "This is all YOUR fault!" Then I saw it...the jagged angry edge of the fence post...politely buried, blinking at me snickering a little too.
I snapped with a waterfall of frustrated tears. God kindly tapped me on my sweaty shoulder and immediately asked if He could help out a little.
Of course God...please start this mower again....
"You see that fence post, it's buried like the unyielding bitterness you have buried in your heart. You have held on to this unforgiving spirit for a while now..it's time to give that to Me. I have watched you dig resentment, cemented with the deep-seeded feelings around your hurts and you sweet sweaty little girl....might I say...including the people who have wounded you."
His truth just sliced through my tears. The Holy Spirit hit my heart with heavy conviction. I had some clean-up to do. I realized I had been burying some deeply hidden junk, as God uncovered the tangled and overgrown weeds that had lingered too long in my most sensitive place. He brought grace and forgiveness into those hardened, buried places.
This is the part of the story where I tell you that I forgave those who had wounded me and then I jumped right up, with the most joyful heart and resumed the task at hand. That didn't happen. I spent some time crying, forgiving, and listening to God. And more over releasing more hurt places, like I was skipping stones over the waters of God's grace into the deep endless ocean of forgiveness. Not only for them, but for myself, because all I had to bring to this teary water's edge were guilt and shame.
The walk of shame is long and deep. But God changed me that day to release to Him all the hurts I had suffered. The big stones, the little pebbles, a few boulders. I was literally "mowed down" by my Creator who cared enough to put a fence post in my way, along the way of His grace, so I would be stopped in harboring anger in my ways, and He caught all my stones.
This message unlocked this memory I had forgotten about, but it also freed me to remember God's forgetfulness that is a part of His forgiveness. As God completely loves us, He completely forgives us, He completely forgets our sins. He doesn't keep a tally of my sins, nor am I a sum total of my sin. I now forgive others and myself continually as I have been completely forgiven. Going deeper though, I must forget my sins and the hurting sins of others, as my wonderful Savior has already forgotten mine and has torn up the tally sheet.
Forgive and forget. Completely. Wholly. The way God does it. May I always imitate His forgiveness AND forgetfulness. In doing this, it brings complete healing in my wounded heart, the calloused scars, the sensitive places, the dark parts that need His light. Holy healing is unlocked, undone, and redone. Restored, whole, and full.
God didn't intend for us to carry the burden of an unforgiving spirit. It only holds us captive and binds us up tighter than a straight jacket. If you have some resentment in your heart, let God tap your shoulder and mow you over with His wonderful gift of grace! We serve a God who commands us to forgive, over and over, continually. He forgets about your sin, so we must do the same, fully forget. It's our for our benefit that we release all our wounds, no matter who has hurt us or how we were were injured.
The Lord is gracious and compassionate, slow to anger and rich in love. Psalm 145:8
Colossians 3: 12-17 "So, as those who have been chosen of God, holy and beloved, put on a heart of compassion, kindness, humility, gentleness and patience; bearing with one another, and forgiving each other, whoever has a complaint against anyone; just as the Lord forgave you, so also should you. Beyond all these things put on love, which is the perfect bond of unity. Let the peace of Christ rule in your hearts, to which indeed you were called in one body; and be thankful. Let the word of Christ richly dwell within you, with all wisdom teaching and admonishing one another with psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, singing with thankfulness in your hearts to God. Whatever you do in word or deed, do all in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks through Him to God the Father."
Yes, even that person you are thinking of right now.
Jesus teaches forgiveness with the finest example of asking our Father to forgive those who put him on the cross. My sin put him on the cross. In God's infinite, relentless, all-encompassing love, He didn't turn a blind eye to my wrongdoings or injustices, sin or unrighteousness, weeds, stones, or any other dark placed sin I could mention here. HE didn't let anger fester in His heart. He freely gave the gift of forgiveness and releasing me from guilt and shame and gave me the keys to unlock my freedom in forgiveness.
Who do you need to forgive today? I am changed by God's deep forgiveness for me.