Sunday, December 16, 2007

Hell Has Frozen Over...The Finale

Mark 11:25 & 26, tells us about what forgiveness must be. More than a snapshot, this Scripture is the original portrait of the essence of forgiveness. I had read it many, many times…I had heard that specific Scripture used in uncountable sermons. I’ve even preached on it myself. But not until the middle of June this past summer did I ever see it literally come alive.

Jesus make forgiveness very simple, (my paraphrase), “when you are standing before Me, pouring out your heart to me, if you have ANYTHING against ANYONE, FORGIVE HIM, so that I may also forgive you. But if you don’t, neither will I forgive you.”

So with that said, how in the world can we allow anything to remain in us, where it can grow and manifest itself into a bitter beast and keep us from forgiving? When in reality, it has successfully built a wall around us that is keeping God from forgiving us? Talk about a gulf that spans the East from the West!

I actually thought I was enjoying life to the fullest, yet my spirit was being destroyed by an invisible beast within…

It was a typical Friday in the Delta. All effort was being made just to stay cool. The summer’s heat had been overwhelming. At Dad’s Place, we were getting ready for our Friday night Live Music venue. We had a special treat that week. An up-and-coming new Christian artist was performing that night, and was using DP as the location for his CD Release Party. We had expected a good crowd all along, but never did I suspect who would actually show up.

In the hustle and bustle of the crowd…the music and the mayhem, we were covered up making drinks…and in walked some of those same people from our last church that had given us so much grief and pain! It was at that point that all of my emotions, my anger and bitterness that I thought were long gone, came rushing out over me. I felt myself being transformed into something…someone I never knew existed. It was at that moment that I actually realized what had been going on inside of me for all of those years. It was all very vivid now. I remember telling Denise that I just can’t do this anymore…I know now THIS is what has been holding me back for so long. I could tell there was some sort of a barrier between God & me, yet I still didn’t understand it. For as much as I tried to break down the barrier, it kept growing stronger. I knew then, that all of the Bible reading, praying, Scripture studying and worshipping in the world wouldn’t help me grow in my spiritual walk UNTIL I was able to actually forgive everything and everyone that had been harboring inside my heart.

I made my way to our back office where I honestly think I had a nuclear meltdown. Our coffee shop was full of people, but it was just God and me in that back room. That little office space and storage area became Holy Ground that night. And when that encounter was over, I walked out a changed man. You see, I was the one that had to do the work…I had to be the one to realize, recognize and release. God had always been there for me and with me…waiting, but until I was willing to let go of the hurt, He couldn’t help me.

My life’s journey took on a brand new perspective that night. And in looking back, it was oh so needed for the path that He has taken our family on. We’ve climbed mountains and crawled into valleys that you cannot imagine since that night. But with each step I now take, I wrap myself in the blanket of peace of knowing that I have been forgiven, and, to help keep the chill out, for I’ll never forget the night that hell had snow drifts…

1 comment:

dean said...

Thanks for the glimpse into how you were finally able to cut loose the things that were hindering your walk. Though we are called to die to self daily, sometimes that's a difficult proposition when in the midst of strife and conflict at the hands of people who we consider our brothers and sisters in Christ.

While we should rightfully expect to be treated better by those who claim Christ as Savior and Lord, it is often true - and sadly so - that we get treated the worst by our fellow Christians. The words to a very old song come to mind... "you always hurt the one you love..." It's true in family, it's true in romance, and unfortunately it's true in the church.

But as we've all probably learned, either the hard way or the easy way, if we do indeed make every effort to die to self each and every day (in other words, putting our desires, wants and needs aside and determining in our hearts to put God and others first), those wounds are not allowed to fester and grow into something that is extremely difficult to overcome. Unfortunately, it often takes distancing oneself from the situation (that is, leaving that particular venue of ministry) in order for that to happen. I know that's been true in my own life and ministry.

But rather than song lyrics, the words of Jesus Himself show the way... "Father forgive them, for they know not what they do."