Don’t call yourself a Christian if you can’t yourself forgive

“Start tearing the old man down
Run past the heather and down to the old road
Start turning the grain into the ground Roll a new leaf over”

Omaha- Counting Crows

Forgiveness is not optional. It is not conditional or with parameters. It is not just because we have to, it is because we want to. It is because we have a greater desire to be one with the crucified Christ in order for ourselves to be risen in Spirit. There is no height or width in our forgiveness. It doesn’t look the same for everyone. It is a necessity. It is the entire basis for what we believe.

I’ve heard a lot of “I shouldn’t have to” apologies and “I’m right” and “my pastor says it’s o.k.” I’ve heard every excuse. I have taught a bible study for sexual abuse survivors for which I am one, where I continually preached about our necessity to forgive our abusers. It was gut wrenching and one of the hardest things I have ever had to do. But at the end, oh at the end, it was us that were free.

I have decided to take up Pope Francis’s Year of Mercy as a personal mission. I offer mercy whenever I can. And mercy and forgiveness don’t negate consequences. It only requires we be the love of the Lord, His heart, His hands and his feet. So I sent a reply to a former client who had sent me a Christmas card from prison.

“Believe in Jesus, believe in forgiveness, you can walk with Him even behind those prison walls.”

And an excerpt from his reply:

“I’ve long ago given my life over to Christ. Everyday I grow closer to Him. My journey in this place has been pure hell. But God has always seemed to free me mentally from these walls.”

He hurt someone. He will be in prison until he is a very old man. I tried to help him when he was free. But now I know that he was never free. He was not free until he got to prison. 

There’s nothing you can do or say that will change my mind about Jesus’ teaching on forgiveness. There is no verse you can turn on its head or teaching you could show me that would convince me that Jesus was anything other than forgiveness itself. He was, in the beginning, the word, and in him, there is only life.

Someone hurt my son, and I chose to forgive him. And I chose mercy. I chose to see him through the eyes of Christ. And God forgives me everyday. And so I forgave him. There is nothing to understand except the God that lives inside of me. And although my heart ached, I was at peace… an indescribable peace. And we prayed together for this person. And we talked about God’s forgiveness as a family. And my children learned that God values their pain and the forgiveness that was extended through our hands. And it was impossible to cry when my son said to a grown man, “apology accepted.”

If you’re feeling convicted you should, there’s nothing to be confused about. You can’t call yourself a follower of Jesus if you don’t follow him. 

The crucified Christ lived inside of me today. And He eased my pain. All I felt was His love, for me and for my son. I was Abraham carrying Isaac in obedience to the God I serve. And He, he provided the ram.

Simplify your Life

“Worship the Lord in holy attire, ” Psalm 96:9(a)

“Every grain offering that you shall present to the Lord shall be unleavened, for you shall not burn any leaven or honey as an oblation to the Lord.” Leviticus 2:11

“Come as you are, ” Holy Spirit

simplify1

I find the world to be spoiled by the burden of busyness. There was a time in my life I gave into that, even as a Christian. I couldn’t say no and always said yes. From after school activities to volunteering to ministry, there was no place you couldn’t find me. I didn’t have a sense of priority or more than that, I didn’t even think to come to God to ask Him what it was He wanted me to do. It was a slow process for me to come before the Lord on this issue, and even harder when I had to begin to leave the activities and groups He hadn’t chosen for me.

There is much written in both the secular and Christian spheres about the burden of busyness. The advice I have found is simplistic at best. Secular blogs celebrate the mom that is able to do it all, the working mom, the single mom, the overburdened mom. Christian bloggers seem focused on the general concept of trusting God or the concept of dealing with busyness in general. And although I appreciate and garner something from everything I read, I must say that none of it presented any real and concrete answers. That was until I read a book by Pastor Bill Hybels that changed my life.

I am a big proponent of supporting the work that has helped me in my own life. Towards the beginning of my Christian journey, this book was it. Simplify was just what I needed at that particular stage in my life, and I have recommended it to all kinds of people, since the message is wholly universal.

Being a full-time working mom myself to twins that are six and a five-year old, people often ask me how I do it. I have to tell you the ultimate answer is through my relationship with Christ, and the wisdom He has so graciously bestowed on me. The book Simplify was an early gift that God gave me, and saved me from falling into the world’s snares. There is one principle that I have stuck with since reading the book so long ago, and it is my “secret” weapon to all things busyness.

Pastor Hybels talks about having a day for everyone. What I mean by that is that everyone in the family has their one day of activity, to do what they choose and love. He suggests writing it out and sticking to it so it looks something like this:

Monday- Johnny- Soccer

Tuesday- Mom- bible study

Wednesday- Hayley- dance

And so on and so forth. The activities and days of course change over time, but the overall schedule cannot be changed. Everyone has their own day, their own time. And when you set your Sabbath day, that’s it. 

I used this concept along with prayer and have been doing so for the last two years. When things come along that are outside of that “one a day” concept, I pray and ask God if this is what He wants. I can tell you that for two years, any time I have broken this “one a day” pattern, I have had some serious scheduling issues, burn out and stress.

I remembered this today while praying about an invitation for an additional group. It sounded so good. But I know better, and brought it to God. And God, as He always does gave me the answer I needed.

Busyness can overburden us and I find that we create our own busyness; we only have ourselves to blame. If you don’t know where to start, I highly suggest getting this book which will provide you a great compass. I am also here if you need ideas, as it was over time that I found my center and peace.

How do I have time? I do it God’s way.

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** I have not been paid for any endorsement of this book. This is just my heart, to share with everyone what has worked for me in my own life.