23rd October 2021, ~21:30
“Forgiveness.” “Forgive.” These are words God hasn’t been shy about tossing my way in this season. There are some pains that run so deep that when you think of forgiveness you don’t even know HOW to forgive. How can God ask me to forgive? Where does one start from? Don’t look at me like the black sheep of the Christian pack – I’m only being dead honest. When someone hurts you so deeply how do you forgive them? You know what makes it sweeter? When they don’t even have a clue that they’ve hurt you that deeply. It’s like adding atarodo (hot pepper) to an injury. Then my loving daddy (God) says “let it go”. Really dad?!
My pastor once said something profound “The thing about unforgiveness is that it doesn’t travel alone. It is a store house that comes along with other negative emotions – bitterness, anxiety, anger, fear, which starts damaging you and interfering with who God is calling you to be .” I love PB! She always delivers things ever so sweetly. I’ll never forget what she said because I’ve seen it hold true in various scenarios. But you see the irony is unforgiveness doesn’t actually hold the person who has wronged you back. It holds YOU back i.e. the person who’s chosen to hold on to the hurt. You know when you have a legitimate right to be angry, you have a right to be hurt and in fact look to show them pepper and then God is choosing this moment to play the forgiving saint card??? His timing always blows my mind. The time I need him to show them pepper he says “stand down.” How egg-citing.
Anyway, have you ever read the story of the prodigal son? It’s a well-known tale in the bible which gives an account of a son who took his share of the inheritance, squandered it, and then came back for forgiveness. I’m going somewhere, hold on. I was sat at work and as per usual, binging my fave – Pastor Steven’s podcast, and I ended up on a podcast which was given early last year. It’s titled “What God left Out: Flatbread faith” and what he focused on was very interesting. Whenever the story of the prodigal son is told, the focus is always on how the son’s actions were less than satisfactory and of course, God’s mercy and forgiveness. But you know what he said that blew my mind? When the son made the decision to come back to his father, the son was probably preparing a grand speech to tell his dad “I know I’m not worthy, I know I’ve upset you and I deserve everything you’re going to do to me. I can work as a slave because I know I deserve it. Please just take me back under your wings. I’m also sorry for the shame I brought on you…” I would imagine he had prepared a grand speech. You know what Pastor Steven pointed out?
As the son approached his father, the father literally sprinted towards him. He was so overjoyed he probably didn’t even get to his grand speech. Imagine the shock. You thought you’d be met with anger and violence yet you were met with love. His father could have pointed out all his flaws and in fact taunted him for all he did. Yet, he chose forgiveness. Not just forgiveness but he chose to leave some things out. Then God spoke to my spirit and said I need you to do that. “Leave that out. Forgive, and leave out all the tiny details about the wrong they did.”
He said do you know when God is talking to us sometimes he leaves things out? We go to God after we have dragged him in the mud and not once does he point out what we did to him in the past. God then went further and told me to reflect on the relationship between Jesus and his disciples. He told me that Christ is in fact the ultimate teacher of forgiveness. The very people He trusted the most and shared intimacy with, the people who had free access to him, they fellowshipped with him, they had ACCESS – were not present when He needed them the most. By ‘they’ I’m referring to the disciples.
They did all of that and when He reunited with them during the season of appearing before the descent of the Holy Spirit He never mentioned it once. WHATTTTTTT??? He smiled with them and hugged them!?!!! Peter probably had a speech ready for Jesus to tell him how he’s sorry but I can imagine God’s arms and smile confusing him and just going for a hug. Christ is forgiveness.
Think about it. He was tried, carried a cross and did the most difficult part of his life alone. There are just some moments where you feel like you need that one person to ride with you through your lows and guess what? They don’t! Or you expect your family to do it and they don’t! Or your sister club and guess what they don’t! It may cause resentment and anger – I’ve been there. Has that ever happened to you? It has happened to me lots of times.
So obviously when daddy started laying this out to me I knew where he was going. He had stated his case and damn it guys. I was cornered. I couldn’t even come with my own points because I knew everything he said was facts (duh). He said Tumi, I want you to forgive. I want you to reply with love. I want you to reply with kindness. You may even be angry but show love. And if the anger you have is towards me I want to ask you something – do you trust me? Do you really trust me? It may seem like chaos now but do you trust me? Do you trust that I will not mismanage your life? Forgive and leave it all out.
By the time he finished, I noticed tears were streaming down my face. I sighed, took a deep breath and said okay fine. You win. I choose love. I will forgive over and over and over. Why? Because I can’t let my hurt hold me back from who God has called me to be. What I’m carrying is far more important to protect!!!!
So I put this to you – will you forgive? Will you take a page from the story of the prodigal son and let the pain go? Will you choose love and forgiveness over bitterness? Will you choose to trust God despite it looking like it’s getting worse? Will you forgive God even for missed expectations? Will you forgive even yourself?
To whoever who reads this, I want to pray for you. Before that though I want to reiterate that all your hurts and pains matter. I see you and more importantly God sees you. It all matters. But you know what’s more important? Letting that weight go so it doesn’t hinder you from becoming who you’re meant to be.
Dear Lord, today I want to commit whoever reads this into your hands. You taught me Father that Christ is the ultimate example of forgiveness. You told me how he forgave countless times and still showed up with a loving heart. You have shown me that you bless those who are consistently seeking to be more like you in all they do. Today, I pray that whoever reads this you will set them free. I pray that you will thaw their heart and breathe upon them. That you will soften their hearts and cause them to forgive those who wronged them. I pray Lord that in the case of relationships you will use whatever happened to result in deeper intimacy between both parties. In the case of hurts from colleagues or work, that you will teach them wisdom and give them a heart like Joseph who got hurt multiple times but ended up in a position of power. Turns out that the past pains equipped him into being the effective leader you needed him to be. I pray Lord that whatever resentment this person reading feels will be washed away and their heart will be filled with love. I pray Lord for you to reveal yourself to them that they may know you deeper and as an overflow of their love for you it will cause them to continuously forgive those closest to them more easily. I pray that they will see that they don’t have to do it alone and it’s okay if the hurt reappears again and again. I pray Lord that your Grace will pour upon them and with this they will forgive over and over choosing love every single time.
Well, I could go on forever but I really hope that touched you. I’ve been there. It’s a painful place to be and to navigate. However as I’m currently treading the path of letting go, I’m feeling a lot lighter. I’m also excited because I chose love. I chose Christ. I chose a harder path but a more fruitful one. I can’t even begin to imagine what’s in front of me. I’ll end with this beautiful scripture:
“The path of the righteous is like the morning sun, shining ever brighter till the full light of day.”
Proverbs 4:18 NIV
Amen! It will get better but first please forgive.