The last few weeks have been dry for me... desert-like even. (anyone notice in sudden infrequency in posts?) I've been feeling un-inspired, un-spiritual, un-motivated. Days would pass and, as I'm climbing in to bed I wonder, did 24 hours really pass since the last time I did this? What did I accomplish?
I felt it most in my relationship with Papa... my devotion times were just not happening... I was beginning to wonder why I can't seem to hear from God. I kept pursuing and wondering when I'd feel moved again...
In about 12 hours, there was a deluge, starting last night (Saturday) about 11 pm...coinciding with the actual thunder and lightening storm that hit our area... It was beautiful and fearful and loud and productive.
Sin is often defined as "missing the mark", we are literally falling short of the standard - which would be perfection. We can't be in perfect relationship with Papa if we can't see him eye to eye... yet, we all miss the mark, we all fall short. But God has litterally dipped down, out of his perfection, full of mercy and grace (which are gaining deeper defintions as I grow closer to Papa) to reach into our sin-filled lives and bring us to himself, in a place where we can see into his eyes, to know, even just a little bit of his heart. Wow! He leaves his place to draw us up... that's amazing!
As I began my day (Sunday) thoughts of God's reaching for me, where I am, these thoughts were lifting my heart into an internal praise as we went about breakfast and dressing the kids, getting ready to go to church. As the service begins, I sense something comfortable and familiar, Holy Spirit... His presence is there. The worship music is speaking the words in my heart. A quick glance at my husband tells me that he is delighted in praising God today as well. In hindsight, I believe that God allowed a great experience for both of us today that it would be a confirmation of all the good that I am experiencing. And then we begin to sing:
Wow! All this time I've been waiting on the Lord... that's it! I have been waiting! He is teaching me patience. And my strength IS rising. That was cool - thanks Papa!
... but there was more, maybe its more of an alarm - WAKE UP CALL...
As the last worship song is coming to an end, I imagine Heaven (I've been reading about it, not too far of a stretch right?) Heaven will be much like God's original creation, earth with out sin. The Shack showed me what a sin-free relationship would look like, one of the biggest reasons I loved that book. Where everyones' concerns were full on expressing love to one another, with out the slightest concern for themselves. I imagine hanging out with Jesus and Papa and the Spirit; I imagine my Mother, who has been praying and petitioning for me and her grandchildren since she passed, she gets to put hugs around our necks and just be with us, face to face.
And then I imagined something that I can't explain, and realize it had to have come from God. I imagine someone who has hurt me, JS, in Heaven too. Someone I wouldn't want to be in the same room with, but as I imagine JS in heaven. I can see complete love for him from me, and he, with complete love for me. The hurt was gone, the offense was washed off and forgotten... wow, that's an image.... back to reality though, that can happen at the end of the age, but for now, I'm still choosing to be hurt. The music ends and we are seated to listen to Pastor Paul preach the sermon.
Topic: Toxic relationships. I'm ready to sit back and listen, assuming that this will be a good teaching, but not looking for anything too personally specific - after all, I don't have any toxic relationships, right? (Paul isn't looking at me is he? I think he's looking at me?? No, Paul isn't, but Papa is...
See to it that no one misses the grace of God and that no bitter root grows up to cause trouble and defile many.
Keep the root from becoming the fruit - manifest in anger, control, violence.
The only way out of the house of bitterness is through the door of forgiveness.
What can put you in the house of bitterness? - betrayal; feeling that God allowed something bad to happen; self loathing / regret for your own deed.
Genesis 45 (read it, my synopsis) tells the story of Joseph. His brothers become jealous, as he is father's favorite. They sell him into slavery, but ends up in the favor of the king which allows him to save those that hurt him - his brothers, during a horrible famine. He forgives his brothers.
1. OWN it
When your root becomes the fruit, you become the offender, looking for revenge, to cause hurt in hopes of justifying your hurt. Your attitude is hostile. Bitterness is Sin. It is like the old cliche - "bitterness is like drinking poison and hoping that your enemy will die."
2. KILL it
Forgiveness is about getting over it. In Eph 4:31 the greek of "Put away" can also be translated "lift up" in the way that a fisherman would lift anchor and move away. When we get angry we tend to drop anchor.
Forgiveness is not about feelings, it is not about minimizing, it is not about reliving. Forgiving is releasing. Releasing the offender from a debt that they could never repay anyway.
It is a decision to forgive.
3. HEAL it
Ephesians 4:32 says "Just as Christ forgave you." If God treated us the way we want to treat our offenders, we would be in trouble.
Develop hope for that person. Imagine that person in perfect union with God. It culminates in blessing. When we start sincerely praying for the offender to be blessed.
It is the Jesus way...
"But I say to you who hear: Love your enemies, do good to those who hate you,
"bless those who curse you, and pray for those who spitefully use you.
Remember how I said "I'm still choosing to be hurt." I think I dropped anchor. The rest of the world is moving on and I'm planted in the sand, but the waves of bitterness are drowning me. God clearly is putting this hurt on my heart, it is time to own it, kill it and heal it.
Then Joseph said to his brothers, “Come close to me.” When they had done so, he said, “I am your brother Joseph, the one you sold into Egypt!
And now, do not be distressed and do not be angry with yourselves for selling me here, because it was to save lives that God sent me ahead of you.
Ok -now, I know that was long and maybe you need to pick your chin up off the floor that I said as much as I have... have you ever known me to not be transparent? or not long winded?No dancing around it, here it is, all on the table.
...it's been quite a wet and rainy day....