It was a Wednesday evening and my husband and I were getting ready for church. We had just returned from our dreamy honeymoon a few days prior and we were beginning to settle into life together as man and wife.
That’s when the phone rang.
I checked the caller ID and when I saw it was my mom I picked up with a cheery, “Hey Mom!”
Sniffles on the other end were all I could hear.
“He’s gone, Wendy. Your Dad is gone.”
Gone? Gone where? My mind raced to understand what she was saying.
“Your dad, he, he’s died.”
My heart instantly sank to my feet as I collapsed on our hand me down couch. How is this possible? What happened? At the time no one knew, an autopsy would need to be done in the coming days. All we knew was that while my mother was out running an errand, my dad took his last breath in his living room and was now in eternity.
Now I was left to deal with the memory of the last words my dad ever spoke to me on this earth. Though he was a believer, he had not walked with God for many many years. Sadly, rage and bitterness had indwelt his very being.
The very last words my father ever spoke to me on this side of heaven were, “You are the biggest disappointment in my life.” He then turned around and walked away.
His words stung deeply and sank into my heart and that was now the last memory I would ever have of my dad here on earth. Disappointing anyone goes against my very being, how was I ever going to get past this?
I found myself in the coming days and weeks faced with a decision. Would I forgive my dad and move forward? Could I forgive and move on?
Forgiveness is an interesting thing, isn’t it? Some of us have been profoundly wounded and the thought of forgiving is just inconceivable. Though it may not be painless, forgiveness is essential for the Christian life.
Oh how grateful we can be for forgiveness! Christ saw us, and all of the sins we would ever commit, and still said, “You are worth it!” as He died on the cross to pay the penalty for your sins, and mine! Making a way for us to have legitimate, honest, true forgiveness!
“And you, being dead in your sins and the uncircumcision of your flesh, hath he quickened together with him, having forgiven you all trespasses; Blotting out the handwriting of ordinances that was against us, which was contrary to us, and took it out of the way, nailing it to his cross;” Colossians 2:13-14
Christ has set the ultimate standard for how we are to forgive, but sometimes in our sinful nature we feel like saying, “Enough! You have wronged me one to many times! I’m over it! No more!!”
I think Peter in the New Testament could relate. Let’s look at Matthew 18:21-22, “Then came Peter to him, and said, Lord, how oft shall my brother sin against me, and I forgive him? till seven times? Jesus saith unto him, I say not unto thee, Until seven times: but, Until seventy times seven.”
This passage causes me to wonder if Peter had been hurt by someone again and again, and he was looking for a justifiable reason to stop forgiving. I mean, if Christ says it’s okay to stop forgiving, it must be alright!
I love Christ’s response! No, He was not telling Peter to go begin making tally marks against all those that had offended him. He was simply saying, “Keep on, Peter, keep on!”
I love what Stormie Omartian says in her book 30 Days to Becoming A Woman of Prayer. “Forgiveness doesn’t make the other person right, it makes us free!”
The person who wronged us may never come asking to be forgiven, but it is imperative that we forgive anyway! Unforgiveness tends to lead to bitterness and God tell us in Hebrews 12:15b, “lest any root of bitterness springing up trouble you, and thereby many be defiled;“. Bitterness will always effect more than just us.
If we choose to not forgive, the only person we will end up hurting is ourselves. Matthew 6:14-15, “For if ye forgive men their trespasses, your heavenly Father will also forgive you: But if ye forgive not men their trespasses, neither will your Father forgive your trespasses” Our decision to not forgive will be what keeps us from receiving forgiveness from Christ!
What better way to show God our appreciation for His forgiveness of us, then to forgive others!
So there I was, reeling in the shock of my fathers sudden death and faced with a decision, was I going to forgive him of the hurtful words he spoke?
Because of the grace of God, I have been able to forgive. I can live my life in peace, knowing that God is not disappointed in me!
Praise God for the gift of forgiveness! Praise God that we do not have to live a life of unforgiveness and be bound up with bitterness! He has made a way for us to be forgiven and has shown us how to forgive! Oh how good our great God is!
ps: If this has been an encouragement, please feel free to share it with others!