I don’t often see eye to eye with the author of the below, but it is nearly identical to what I was going to write.
“But love your enemies, and do good, and lend, expecting nothing in return; and your reward will be great, and you will be sons of the Most High; for He Himself is kind to ungrateful and evil [souls][humans]. Be merciful, just as your Father is merciful. “Do not judge, and you will not be judged; and do not condemn, and you will not be condemned; pardon, and you will be pardoned. Luke 6: 35 – 37 NASB
Also, do not take seriously all words which are spoken, so that you will not hear your servant cursing you. For you also have realized that you likewise have many times cursed others.. Eccl 7:21 – 22 NASB
SCRIPTURES COPIED FROM: http://www.blueletterbible.org/
THIS ONE IS PERSONAL. I HAVE CHOSEN TO EXPOSE MYSELF IN THIS REGARD SIMPLY BECAUSE MOST OF THE PEOPLE WHO KNOW ME ALREADY KNOW MUCH THESE EVENTS. I AM NOT LOOKING FOR YOUR PITY. I WANT TO USE THIS VERY PERSONAL EVENT TO SHOW YOU HOW I FIRST LEARNED FORGIVENESS.
IT IS TO THEM, THE WELL INTENTIONED DRAGONS, THAT I DEDICATE THIS INSTALLMENT ON FORGIVENESS. I REALLY LOVE YOU, HONESTLY, COMPLETELY. AND IN THE NAME OF JESUS, I LOVE YOU.
I am going to share with you a special case under the heading of Forgiveness. It is a case that I struggle with. To forgive and to be forgiven. This is about accepting God‘s forgiveness, yet dealing with the unforgiving souls who insist that you are still damaged goods, in spite of what God has done. In a later installment (Which I have not decided if I will post) I will deal with an extreme case of hatred, and where forgiveness comes into the picture.
20 years ago, God told me that my first marriage was going to end. I knew a week before it happened that it was coming. God let me know in no uncertain terms that, if I will cling to Him during this storm, He would sustain me, restore me, and make me stronger in the Lord than I could imagine. The clouds were in the sky, but the storm had not hit, yet.
Although I could see this storm coming, I had not prepared my heart for the intensity of the storm. And it was intense. The year leading up to this storm, I had really begun to stray from God, through various acts of self righteousness. I had become a Pharisee of the first order. God had given me the privilege of seeing Moslems come to Christ in my ministry. God had given me the privilege of seeing witches, satanists, and gang members come to the Lord. He used me as His pen to draw the picture of salvation. But in my pride and arrogance, I felt I could take it from there, and pretty much excluded God from His work in me. I had stopped bible reading and prayer. I began to allow the little foxes of sin and pride into my garden. Eventually, I was screwing up my life, and didn’t understand it was my fault.
Then the storm hit.
My heart was not prepared for it, even though God had let me know in very clear terms it was coming. The right thing for me to do would have been to repent of my sin, humble myself before the Lord, seek His forgiveness, and cling to Him for all I was worth. But because I didn’t heed God’s warning, I was not able to withstand the unbearable intensity of losing my wife.
Even then I had the opportunity to repent and turn to God. I failed that test, too. I was letting my confusion, frustration and anger do my thinking. I was allowed to have my way, and I was left to my own devices. And I fell into even more sin than I could imagine was possible.
I left behind a trail of destruction.
Later on, I met my current wife. I was still damaged goods. The day I met her, the very instant I saw her, I had a vision of things to come. I saw us married, and I saw my child. I actually saw Hannah, years before she was born. (There is more to that, and remind me to tell it to you).
What I saw scared me so badly, I ran away from her and hid for 6 weeks. Anyone who knows me knows I don’t back down from anything. But THIS vision truly horrified me. See, I knew deep in my soul that I had not done business with God. I had a lot of repentance to do. I had a lot of forgiveness to seek and give. I was seriously damaged goods.
Eventually, I screwed up my courage and called her, and we dated and eventually got married. A year later, Hannah was born.
But I still lived in rebellion to God. By this time, I genuinely began to crave that sweet relationship with God, but I wanted that relationship on my terms. I didn’t want to go through the very hard time of repentance. And I had some repenting to do.
Eventually, I let sin get the best of me again. It was one of the big ones, and it caused a great deal of hurt in my marriage.
The details are none of your business. But I sinned. And I never sin in half measures.
The damage was bad. Family on both side of the fence let me know in no uncertain terms what a schmuck I was. Some even told me I would be better off dead. Some cursed me to my face, and spared no expense telling everyone and everything that would listen what an incredible sin I had committed. It affected my ability to make friends, it affected my ability to get a job (I live in a small town). I was given the scarlet letter. In the view of these well meaning dragons, I was irredeemable, and there will be no forgiveness to be had. People told me to my face that they want me to leave, go away, never return, to do my wife a favor and disappear. I genuinely got to see the dark side of the children of God.
Eventually, people I had never known would confront me about this sin. I learned that, not only do religious people love to hate, but they love to gossip, too.
I had begun to crave the presence of God in my life, and I wanted so bad to have a prayer partner. While I was at work, one day, the guy that delivers our welding gases drove up. He was very nice, very friendly. Somehow, we began to talk about God. I told him that I had fallen out of fellowship with God, and want to know the presence of God in my life. He prayed with me and for me. He told me I can come by his work-place anytime I wanted to pray with him. He gave me his phone number. I was so overjoyed, I actually started crying right there, in front of my co-workers. I actually had someone to talk to, who wanted to work with me on the return to God.
A week later, I needed to go to that guys’ work place to buy an additional bottle of acetylene gas. While my order was being filled, I went to that guy. Instead of shaking my hand, I was met with a great deal of hostility. It turned out that he was also a prayer partner with one of the well intentioned dragons who told me my family would be better off if I were dead. I saw genuine hate in this man’s eyes. He let me know what that well intentioned dragon had told him. I was devastated that in an instant, a person I just met, who would pray with me, would turn on me with such vengeance.
My wife had a heart attack.
While she was in surgery, and I was waiting in the waiting room, I was told that one of my wife’s friends wanted to talk to me. I got her phone number, and after I got home, late that night, I called her. It started out alright. I wanted things to go well, as I have always admired this person. I mean I genuinely loved this person. The conversation suddenly turned ugly. She let me know that there is no way that healing in my relationship with my wife would happen. That this friend had been trying with all her might to get my wife to leave me and move in with her. I was, once again, informed that the local world would be better off if I just went away.
I think it was this turn of events, my wife having a heart attack, her friends and relatives continually letting me know that it would be best if I just went away, seeing the dark hearts of Christians who couldn’t forgive, that I knew then I was genuinely lost to God.
I wrote in another installment on Forgiveness how to return to a forgiven state, and how to forgive. The above events in my life are where I had to learn this process.
1. I turned to God. I had to get back to the fundamentals of the faith, here. I confessed that I know there is a God. I confessed that I know that this God is THE creator, the great I AM of Scripture, the one who created us Humans. I confessed that man fell from God just as I had fallen from God. I confessed that God gave His only begotten Son to die for the sins I have committed, so I will not have to face God’s wrath, but have eternal life in Jesus Christ. Then I confessed my anger.
I was angry at me. A Lot.
I was angry at Christians who could not offer a healing hand, but offered only condemnation. I was angry, angry, angry. It was a deep and abiding anger that burned hot. This was the hardest thing for me to face. My anger. God showed me how my anger does not further the Kingdom of God.
Until I could learn to place that at the feet of God, and let Him take it out of my heart, there would be no further progress in my restoration to Him. Period. This kind of anger has no place in the Kingdom, and I cannot return to the service of God if I insist on being angry. It took from around 2007 to 2012 to work through that. But God did His wonderful work in me, and helped me be rid of that hate and anger. It is gone, now. It is a distant echo. God has shown me what I need to learn from it, and has healed me. The lesson I learned here is, I cannot turn to people for help. I must first turn to God. People will be too married to their opinions and agenda to be able to help. And I learned that that, too, is OK. We are all human, and have things to work out with God. It is not my place to judge them, or be angry with them.
2. BE WILLING. I was in love with my anger. It was all that drove me. I had forgotten that there is more power in a whisper of God’s love than there is an a ton of anger and hate. So this was a hard one foe me. Here were people speaking death into my life, into my marriage, and “In the name of the Lord” letting me know just how irredeemable I was. I was hurt, disappointed, angry, and these feelings had become so familiar, and so normal to me, that letting go of them was worse than having surgery with out pain killers. (That happened to me once, it was awful).
But, Just as Jesus prayed in the garden, the night before His arrest, “Not my will, but thine.” It took a lot of work for me to be willing to give up my anger. I loved having an excuse to throw tantrums. But God wanted to turn me into a man of God, not a child of the world. I had to be willing to release that anger, hostility, rage, and resentment of all those well meaning dragons. And, with the power of God’s grace, I did, and do, and will. I willed that my will align with God’s will. Not for their snakes, but mine. My attitude had no place in God’s will for my life. If I want to truly return to Him, I had to let go of anger. And the more my will aligned with God’s desire for my life, the more anger diminished, until it was only a memory. And I was surprised by the intense JOY that replaced the anger. Obedience to God brings joy, even when you think your world is going to hell. I understood grace. I felt mercy. From there, it was a simple thing to let go of my hurt and anger, and forgive all the well intentioned dragons. It is easier to accept those Christians who speak death in my life. They honestly think they are doing the right thing. How often had I thought that about my anger and hurt. I get it. We are all saved, but we are all incomplete. We are all having to grow. Now I am able to understand what Jesus meant when he prayed on the cross, “Father forgive them, for they know not what they do.”
I AM FREE!. I AM FREE! I AM FREE!!! Free to dive deep into the word of God, free to love. Free to pray for those who hate me. Free to serve God. Free to pray with my wife, who has forgiven me my sin. What a joy it is to be married to the most incredible woman in the world. I could search all my life and not find a woman as wonderful and great as she is.
I have given up “my right” to anger and hate, and unforgiveness. For the first time in 20 years, I feel free, loving, forgiven, and I feel hope. I feel JOY. I can dance with King David and sing that the Lord my God, the Living God, has restored my soul.
It doesn’t matter one whit what people will say to you, about you, against you. There is NOTHING on this earth you can do about it EXCEPT FORGIVE THEM. Then you can let it go, and you will find you actually really love these well intentioned dragons. REALLY love them and care about them.
The are just as fallen as you are. You need to worry about your own walk in the Lord. Even if you have to do what I did and return to the fundamentals and grow from there.
I have not ever felt this freedom before. EVER. What a glorious God we serve. What a powerful God he is that he can root out my sin and hold me close, and tell me he loves me. It no longer matters who else loves me, not now that I know where I stand with God.
Listen, people who have their minds made up about you will only change when God deals with them. Not a minute sooner. You may raise people from the dead, right before their eyes, and they might still speak death into your life. It is OK, the religious of Jesus’s day did the same thing.
Now, go, sit at God’s feet, and do business with the Lord. I can tell you, as one who has come out of that bath, it is good, it is joy, it is clean. God is GREAT. And I thank God for this freedom.
I really want to hear from you if you need prayer. I don’t care what evil you have done, I will not turn you away. I can do this because it is what God has done for me.
I genuinely love you in the Name of Jesus, and because of God’s great love in my heart.
Now, go be about it.
David G. Perkins.