I’m writing this on Sunday, January 22, 2012. I’m not sure when I’ll actually post it because it will take quite a bit of thought and pondering on my part so it may be a while before it is actually posted. With that being said, all references to “today” mean January 22. 🙂
First, let me give you some background about how I got where I am today.
I’ve been sporadic, at best, on actually attending church lately. I watch online a lot and count that as my church for the week and go on. I have my own, personal reasons for this that I won’t get into here, but I’ve grown to realize that the reason I am staying home is a bad reason. Plus, there are just too many distractions at home. While I’m watching online, I’m distracted by e-mail, my phone, Facebook, Pinterest…everything! I was battling in my head back and forth a couple of weeks ago on two things. What church I should go to and if I should actually go or continue to watch online. Well, the same day I was battling this in my head was the same day my friend Rachel sent me a text asking if we could go to church together the next Sunday. Well, if that isn’t a direct slap in the face from the Big Man himself, I don’t know what is! So, I solved my second dilemma. I won’t be taking the ‘easy’ way out and watching online anymore.
On top of staying home to watch church, I have been bouncing between two churches and not really sticking to either one. I’ve bounced between The Village in Highland Village and Cross Timbers in Argyle/Denton for about a year now. Failing to grow roots in a church is contributing to my lack of attendance at either church. If you have no roots, you have nothing to keep you in place. To keep you grounded. To keep you accountable.
So, that’s how I got here today, but let’s move on and we’ll talk about the rest in another post someday.
Toby’s sermon today at Cross Timbers was about forgiveness and letting go. It is part of a series called Breakthrough that they started 3 weeks ago at Cross Timbers. (If you would like to watch this message, click the link above for Breakthrough and listen to week 3) I’ll be honest. I was not excited about this sermon. I don’t easily forgive and I certainly rarely forget. (If you’ve ever been on my bad side, you know this all too well. …oh…and…I’m sorry for that. Really, I am.) I would say this is probably my biggest fault.
Toby caught my attention from the very beginning with his forgiveness talk. So many of the things he said hit home with me that I thought I’d write about them. Mostly because I want to come back to read and remember what I understood from this message. But…it’s quite possible you will get something from this, too. So…here’s the things he said that hit me smack in the middle of the gut. If you listen to the message, you might hear more that hit home with you as well.
(disclaimer: I’ve put quotes around these things but I’m not exactly sure that’s exactly what was said. However, it’s pretty dang close. And it’s what I scribbled down while he was talking.)
“Forgiveness is the operating system of Christians.”
My first thought was, “Oh. Like my iPhone. Like iOS5 but…iOSGod?” But as I thought about it, I turned it around to, “Christians operate on forgiveness.” This was the first punch-in-the-gut I got of the night. It’s no secret to me, and probably others, that I struggle with forgiveness. I mean, if I’m not operating on forgiveness, what am I operating on? Oh, UNforgiveness. What does this mean? That means that I am living with the hatred (yes, hatred. I am not exaggerating.) and resentment for others in my heart because I have not let these things go by forgiving these people for what they have done to me or to the ones I love in the past.
So, I’m thinking (literally), “But I don’t forgive them! What they did was wrong and mean! Why would I forgive them? I don’t want anything to do with them!” So, the very next thing I hear is…
“Forgiveness doesn’t mean weakness. Forgiveness is strength! It takes a strong person to forgive. It takes a weak person to dwell in UNforgiveness.“
Wait, what? No, see…that is not the operating system I have been working on. I don’t appreciate those that disrespect me or the ones I love and I am not sure why I have to forgive them. They don’t deserve my forgiveness!
Oh…did you see what just happened there? They don’t deserve my forgiveness? As I thought those words after Toby had said that, I realized how ridiculous and absurd my thoughts were at that moment. Have I never done anything worth not forgiving? Yes. Was I forgiven anyway? Absolutely.
God: 2 JL: 0
“Forgiveness doesn’t mean we have to be friends again. It doesn’t mean you condone the actions that were taken. It means you are letting go of it and letting God deal with it instead.”
It doesn’t? Seriously? Because this is how I have thought about forgiveness my entire life. If I say, “It’s okay. I forgive you,” that is their invitation back into my life. It also makes what they did okay. However, that couldn’t be more incorrect. I am forgiving you and I am removing that resentment and hatred from my heart. God is taking that from me and He is dealing with the situation for me. Just because I forgive them, does not grant them an invitation back into my life. But what it does do is relieve me of the burden of keeping them out of my life. Because, by keeping that burden on myself, I am keeping them in my life.
“Our Father, which art in heaven, Hallowed be thy Name. Thy Kingdom come. Thy will be done in earth, As it is in heaven. Give us this day our daily bread. And forgive us our trespasses, As we forgive them that trespass against us.”
He forgives me. I must forgive them. I must.
Well, I made my list. A list of nine people and three companies. Eleven things burdening my heart with unforgiveness. Some of them anger, some distrust and some, pure hatred. Some I want and truly need back in my life. Others, never again. But I will no longer carry this burden. I will give it to God.
I will truly let go and let God.