Friday, December 14, 2012

Day 14-15 Just A Bit Blogged Down

Finding myself getting a bit overwhelmed with this process. The blog is taking on a life of its own, and beginning to eclipse the object of the exercise. When I get ready to pray through the List, I find myself distracted by the thots I wanted to be sure and include in this journal. And, to be perfectly honest, I don't think I have any idea how to really let go. Real, deep down trust--whether in God or anyone else--just doesn't seem to be a part of my make up.
II Corinthians 10:13 - "There hath no temptation taken you but such as is common to man: but God is faithful, who will not suffer you to be tempted above that ye are able; but will with the temptation also make a way to escape, that ye may be able to bear it."
God promises to never test us beyond what we're able to bear, and to always provide a way of escape. Have I been so bent on my own vision of justice that I've refused His grace? Well, yes. I don't suppose any other answer would be honest.

Sure, I've forgiven people before, but not until the offense is long past, or not likely to be repeated. The current problem is with on-going issues, and unrepentant perps. Have I lived my whole life like this? When did I miss that first "escape"? Some of the items in these dockets go back a very long way!

I originally learned the concept of leaving the dockets with the Judge from the book, "Forgive and Love Again" by John Neider. I was reading along, and thinking, "Ok, Lord, I've heard all this before. I need something new, something to provide a fresh perspective." The courtroom illustration was quite a 'light bulb' moment, but trust is still a requirement.

Neider went on, after the section on forgiveness, to emphasize the additional need for emotional healing. Maybe that's where I stopped short. Lord, please heal the wounds, and let me receive your grace to stop reopening them!

Forgive And Love Again: Healing Wounded Relationships - by John W. Nieder and Thomas M. Thompson, 2010 Harvest House.  Available on Amazon.com.

Monday, December 10, 2012

Day 12-13 Reaction & Response

I once heard an instructive and challenging series of messages on the choices we make when things hit us sideways.

1)  We hear God's Word and will.
2) Someone does or says something that creates an emotion in us.
3) We face a decision:
      React, based on the emotion of the moment, choosing self-satisfaction,   OR
      Respond, by returning to step #1, choosing to seek God's directive.

If we leap ahead in 'reaction', we will likely create in the other person a corresponding 'knee-jerk'. As the reaction cycle repeats itself, both sides grow ever farther from caring what God thinks about any of it.

In short, I choose to react to my offender or respond to God.

Just because I keep my reaction to myself, it doesn't count as responding to God.  Stuffing the emotion and refraining from letting my heart spill out my mouth, does not qualify as a trusting and obedient response.  Fear of the offender, or of the consequences of spewing, is still distrust. 

 

If I've spent my life in distrust, how do I break out of the false sense of security created by my own 'control'? Clearly, I'm not in control of anything, and security continually eludes me.

Wednesday, December 5, 2012

Day 10-11 Stay The Course

I remember hearing President Reagan say these words, expressing his unswerving commitment to policies of peace through strength, and prosperity without government intrusion. He wanted us to wait and watch, letting the natural results of those concepts bear their own fruit.

James 1:4 admonishes us:
"But let patience have her perfect work, that ye may be perfect and entire, wanting nothing."
This between the acknowledgment that "tribulation worketh patience", and "If any of you lack wisdom, let him ask of God, that giveth to all men liberally..."

I've asked God for wisdom. I've committed my works to Him. Now the challenge is to 'stay the course'; continuing faithfully while I wait for the fruit of the labor. Yes, still no breakthrough, no fireworks, no 180-degree turn to set me on a new course.

There were many trials and testings for young David, as he waited for his turn on the throne of Israel. We're told repeatedly that he behaved himself wisely, and encouraged himself in the Lord his God. The Psalms are filled with his determination to walk with the Lord in purity and holiness despite the struggles of his own mind and heart.

Psalm 17:15 especially impresses me today:
"As for me, I will behold Thy face in righteousness: I shall be satisfied, when I awake, with Thy likeness."

Lord, let me be patient in the path You have set before me. Let me continue on faithfully, keeping my eyes on Yours, and not on any one or any thing else. Let me look forward to the satisfaction--not of vengeance on my enemies, nor personal vindication, but--with being transformed into Your likeness.

Monday, December 3, 2012

Day 9 Help Thou Mine Unbelief

As I wrote "tormenting fear", I was struck by the telling nature of the phrase. The Lord and I have had numerous discussions about this topic, and there are 'way too many facets to cover in a brief blog post. Suffice it to say that the basis for fear is unbelief. I simply do not truly believe in my heart God will protect me. Maybe I attribute to Him the failings of those authorities in my life who claim to represent Him. Whatever the cause, I've put myself in charge of the protection detail. I do have to say that hasn't turned out so well.

I John 4:18-19 speaks to this:
There is no fear in love; but perfect love casteth out fear: because fear hath torment. He that feareth is not made perfect in love. We love Him, because He first loved us."

Mature, complete, "I've made the decision" love is designed by God to cast out the torment that comes with fear. He loved me before I knew Him, and desired blessing for me above all else. He wants me to leave the driving to Him because His perfect love knows all about what is best for me.

When I make the decision to fully trust His justice and judgment, He is able to bring it all around for my good. When that happens, others are able to see and worship, and find His good in their lives as well.

Mark 19:23-24 tells of a man who sought healing from Jesus for his demon-possessed son. "Jesus said unto him, If thou canst believe, all things are possible to him that believeth. And straightaway the father of the child cried out, and said with tears, Lord, I believe; help Thou mine unbelief."

Can I believe?  Will I?  It seems then, that I need to add a prayer to my daily petition for 'the list'. Lord, I believe; help Thou mine unbelief!" 

Day 8 Sorry And Safe

So why is this such a battle for me? Why can't I just let things go? I'm realizing the heaviness of my life--this "I'm so consumed with everything on my plate, and in my heart" feeling--is because of all these people I'm continually dragging around behind me. A little like Pilgrim's huge burden in Pilgrim's Progress. Or maybe a LOT like it.

If an offender doesn't say they're sorry, then it's apparent they don't think they did anything wrong, right? If they don't think it was wrong, then they will just as likely do it again, right? How can I ever feel 'safe' without their acknowledgment, and their assurance that they intend that it not happen again? I can well understand why the Lord instructed us in Matthew 5 and 18, to go to those with whom we have offenses (whether they or we are the offenders).  It's unbearable to live in this tormenting fear!
But there has to be an alternative, because sometimes the 'going to them' doesn't produce the desired results. (One of my culprits looked me straight in the face, understood my pain, and within a couple weeks--with spoken purpose--did it again! ) God didn't create robots. Our free will allows us to choose our ways, and too often, those ways cause pain in the lives of others.

Sometimes God shields us, sometimes the blast hits us full force.
Sometimes we get to see His working, sometimes we don't.
Sometimes we're exonerated, sometimes we just have to live it out.

II Corinthians 12:9-10 - When the Apostle Paul cried out to the Lord for the removal of a torment in his life, the Lord replied:
"...My grace is sufficient for thee: for My strength is made perfect (complete) in weakness. [Paul's response] Most gladly therefore will I rather glory in my infirmities, that the power of Christ may rest upon me... for when I am weak, then am I strong."

Pretty counter-intuitive. But the idea here is that I determine to access the grace Christ offers [the strength and desire to do His will]. By focusing on His grace, I demonstrate that I am willing to trust His justice and judgment in the bumps and bruises of everyday life. Even when those wounds come from those closest to me.

Lord, I've been in Your courtroom every day for the last eight days, saying that I "will" to forgive these, my offenders.  Trouble is, I keep walking out with their dockets still in my hands. Let me trust You enough to leave those charges on Your sacred Bench, and walk away in Your grace and freedom.

Day 6-7 Trusting Obedience and Grace

This excercise still feels very 'wooden' to me.  It seems I'm just running "the list" by rote, with no feeling except the desire to do right. I keep expecting to 'feel' something, some release, some softening, something!

Proverbs 16:3 teaches the foundation for "trust and obey".
"Commit thy works unto the LORD, and thy thoughts shall be established."

Well, that's what I'm trying to do, Lord.  I do desire to be right with You, and I am, by Your Grace, determined to faithfully seek to release these people.  It's noteworthy that King David used the all-caps "LORD", reminding me that my Savior is to be the LORD of my life: my Master, Sovereign, Commander-in-Chief.

I am noticing some positive side effects from the discipline required to keep up this quest. Today, I was working again on a long-standing project with one of the 'offenders'.  We've had such contention over it, that I've mostly backed away, but it is still a mutual endeavor.  The stiffened body, tight jaw, shallow breathing showed clearly the tension they felt.  I was incredulous. Really? I dip my oar in, and you get so tense you can't breathe?  The Lord laid His hand on my mouth, helped me defer and back away from spewing the things that so 'need to be said'.  After a bit, things relaxed, and a good outcome was achieved.

Thanks Lord, for grace. Let me continue to be 'silent' on my resentments, allowing Spirit's work in my heart and in those of others.

Saturday, December 1, 2012

Days 4-5 Jailer or Jailed?

I've awakened both mornings, by God's grace, speaking forgiveness. It seems important to work down throught the list first thing each morning. It has surprised me how often during the day I find myself arguing again with one of my 'prisoners'. I know just what I want to say to each one; things that need to be said, to convince them of their wrongs.

If I keep old offenders imprisoned in my heart, waiting for them to give back what they took from me, do I not then become a prisoner as well? How much of my time is spent in the dungeon of my heart, guarding their cell door? How much do I cut myself off from others, and from God, by investing so much energy in keeping alive the memory of their offenses?

As long as I maintain an attitude of unforgiveness, do I not put myself under the judgment of Psalms 66:18?
"If I regard iniquity in my heart, the Lord will not hear me."

Oh Lord, let me continue on this journey. Let me continue in Your grace, faithful to accept Your strength and peace.

Thursday, November 29, 2012

Day 3 - Mirrors & Sandpaper

Romans 2:1 "Therefore thou art inexcusable, O man, whosoever thou art that judgest: for wherein thou judgest another, thou condemnest thyself; for thou that judgest doest the same things."

We've all heard the maxim,
"The thing that irritates you most about someone else
                is probably a fault of your own."

There's a lot of talk these days about not judging others (and the subject of judging, in general, is a great discussion for another day less busy than today.) The Lord keeps asking me what I do that is like those with whom I'm so angry. Every time I start on a rant, and even when speaking forgiveness, my own transgressions come tiptoeing to mind.

It almost seems like I need to make some kind of list or chart to help me pursue the "forgive our trespasses, as we forgive those who have trespassed against us" idea.  Allowing the Holy Spirit to remind me of the wrongs He's forgiven me is great way to find the humility to back away from rage at another's trespass(es).

Have you ever noticed how God brings into our lives people who rub us the wrong way? It seems we learn a lot about ourselves when some 'sandpaper' acquaintance comes along to smooth off the rough edges.

Lord, please let me accept Your grace to respond well when you bring mirrors and sandpaper into my life. Let me judge myself, that I may be "judged of no man".

Tuesday, November 27, 2012

Day 2 - Additions & Subtractions

So, a few more names/offenses popped up, and I had a little trouble with the "don't speak to any of them.." part. I need to add the new items to the list, and let the Holy Spirit lay His hand on my mouth.

Matthew 12:34-36 teaches that the mouth is the overflow valve for the heart, and my heart is full-to-overflowing with all this grief. The first time I had a chance to share this program/process with a friend (who also happens to be an offender), I found myself venting. To him. About him. oops.  Does it help that I said I was sorry, and acknowledged that my resentment has been my choice, my responsibility?

It occurred to me this morning that my time is terribly occupied with the continual rehearsing of all this mess. It's like I'm dragging all these people around behind me with chains, everywhere I go. I'm determined not to let them go until they say they're sorry, and give me back the personal worth I believe they took away.

It makes me wonder what my life will be like when I completely release them into the custody of my Judge/Advocate. How much time and energy have I been losing every waking (and sleeping) moment?

Monday, November 26, 2012

30 Days of Forgiveness

Long time between posts. A life of resentment takes up a lot of energy. Then the unsolvable health problems begin to emerge, bringing needed motivation to get back on topic.

In a recent discussion, it was suggested my chronic health challenges may be due to some emotional and/or spiritual blockages. A true friend repeated the challenge to forgive the offenders, for the sake of my own healing.
Well, how 'healing' is it to let bullies off scott free?

Elisabeth Elliot (widow of slain missionary, Jim Elliot):
           "Forgiveness doesn't make them right; it makes you free."

When I give my offenders--and the full dockets of their crimes--over to the Righteous Judge, He will deal His perfect justice to them. His grace grants me 'trusting obedience' and enables me to leave the courtroom in complete confidence. Once outside, the Holy Spirit envelopes me in His comfort and protection. The point is to continue on in His strength; and to resist the temptation to barge back inside and make sure the Judge is doing His job!

Trouble begins again when I don't see enough 'judgment' in their lives, or when they re-offend in mine. Trusting Obedience says, "Wait, His timing is best". Is my heart panting for vengeance or restoration? When God judged me for my wrongs, what was His motivation? A close look at His Law and Christ's teachings shows clearly that while justice is essential, the goal is restoration.

So what does Ephesians 4:29 mean to me?
  "And be ye kind one to another, tenderhearted, forgiving one another,
                      even as God for Christ's sake hath forgiven you."

For the sake of the judgment Christ took on the cross, God has forgiven me for my unbelief and self-will. Not because I deserved it, but because Jesus paid for it before I even asked. Before I was even born. Because God so deeply loved me, and Jesus cried out to Him for my restoration. Is He not equally crying out for the restoration of my offenders?

So this is the challenge: 
Speak forgiveness for 30 Days 
Out loud, every day, in chambers alone with the Judge, my Advocate.
Demonstrating my desire and will to obediently yield it all to His resolution by deliberately, daily, declaring my determination to defer to His demand.

The abusive parent, the controlling spouse, the flawed spiritual authority figure, the stubborn offspring, the provoking co-worker, the backbiting employee, the gossipy family member, the bullying sibling, the contentious 'friend'. Each listed with just a few representative offenses, delivered to the Judge.
Each day.
Verbally.
Purposefully.
With their restoration in view. Resisting the Devil, so he will flee from me, taking his accusations and lies--and torment-- with him.

      My Father, let me determine to speak nothing to any of them for the 30 days. As I meet with you in chambers each day, work your cleansing in my heart. Let me acknowledge my transgressions to You, so that I also may be forgiven by others.
     Shine the light of your Truth in the hearts of all concerned and free us from the fears that make us lash out. Let Your grace provide me the strength and desire to do Your will. In the Name and Power of the cleansing blood of Jesus I pray, Amen.