I know this is the year of the woman. I had a hard time with that at first, but I’m accepting it, and embracing it, however I think a more accurate title may be The Year of the Offended. At least that is the theme for my week. God tends to speak to me in multiples. So, if there is something I am supposed to be paying attention to, it will show up in several different ways, from different sources. This week, the topic is offense and forgiveness.
Last Sunday, I attended Greenville United Methodist, and Brother Steven gave a powerful message on forgiveness. It was wonderful. As I sat there, I couldn’t think of a single person I needed to forgive. I asked God to show me, and nothing showed up. I was just happy to be alive & able to eat.
Lesson 1 So, when we got home, Cary said, “I forgive you for getting sick. I wasn’t mad at you, but I just needed to say it.” Brilliant! He was right. I needed to forgive me for being sick too. I needed to forgive me for being weak, for worrying my family, for not being able to carry on with all my responsibilities. I needed to forgive my body for betraying me and growing cells that would injure my body, that would try to kill me. Immune system, I forgive you for not identifying and destroying the cancer cells. I release you from my judgement, and I restore you to do the job God created you to do, to protect me and keep me alive. I restore you to your rightful place.
Lesson 2 I was invited to pray with people at Living Word’s Soul Sisters meeting. It was beautiful, honest, and about forgiveness.
Lesson 3 My friend Rosi had people steal from her, really steal from her, and she shared her desire to forgive.
Lesson 4 Earlier in the week, I saw a friend. She came to greet me, tears streaming down her face, welcoming me home. Offense immediately sprung up in my heart. This woman took advantage of me, I don’t think it was intentional, but it ended up costing me quite a bit of money in lost income and resources. As I hugged her, I realized, I had not forgiven her, and I really thought I had, but the offense was still there. Lord, how do I forgive? I thought I had let it go. I thought I had released her, but I see that I have not. As I am pondering this question scripture is popping into my head. James 5:16 Confess and acknowledge how you have offended one another and then pray for one another to be instantly healed, for tremendous power is released through the passionate, heartfelt prayer of a godly believer! Jesus taught his disciples on a mountain one day. He said many difficult things (Matthew 5), but specifically this in verse 21 You have heard that it was said to the people long ago, ‘You shall not murder, and anyone who murders will be subject to judgement.’ But I tell you that anyone who is angry with a brother or sister will be subject to judgement. Again, anyone who says to a brother or sister, ‘Raca’ (an Aramaic word of contempt. Insert your own explicative as an American substitute), is answerable to the court. And anyone who says, ‘You fool!’ will be in danger of the of the fire of hell. So, I don’t want to be subject to court. I don’t want bitterness to set up in my heart where unforgivness now resides. Bitterness destroys joy, and I can say I have had real, pure joy in the depth of me since a dear group of friends/family prayed over me in the last year. I NEVER want to lose this joy. On my worst day in Houston, the day I asked for a feeding tube and the doctors refused, I still had peace and joy. (And they changed my meds so I quit throwing up everything that went in my body.) Being angry, harboring offense isn’t worth giving up joy and peace. I’d rather be taken advantage.
Wow! In fact, being offended that I was taken advantage of (essentially stolen from), is a point of view issue. It’s a trust issue. God has blown our minds in the ways he has provided for us through the last four months. Someday, I will have to share the full story of his faithfulness. He is such a loving Father. He is our provider, not me, not Cary. HE IS OUR PROVIDER! What was mistreated didn’t really belong to me in the first place. It was his to give. In fact, as I reflect, the income lost has more than been recovered through other avenues.
Looks like my solution to this problem is easy. Father, I am so sorry I took your place as judge for my friend. I judged her as inconsiderate and selfish, and I cannot know her heart. You alone know the hearts of all men. Lord, I didn’t trust you to provide for us. I thought I had to take care of myself. Please forgive me for waivering in my trust of you as judge and provider. Thank you for using circumstances to reveal the ugly parts of me, for refining me, and thank you for being a forgiving God. Thank you that you don’t act like me, and think of my offenses when you look at me. Help me to be more like you in this way. In Jesus name I pray and praise you! Amen
New opportunities & other news: I just got the final denial that Aetna refuses to cover my proton therapy. A new opportunity to thank God for Humana & let go of offense. I will be preaching Sunday at 9:30 at Shaver’s Chapel. I’m feeling better each day, as long as I take a nap. And life is getting pretty normal, except I am home enough to tidy the house each day, so that is a new beautiful thing. I am struggling to not get anxious about going back to work next month. I love my job, but I’m aware that I had the candle lit at both ends for years, and I think that was part of my getting sick. I don’t want to return to that lifestyle, and I am not sure how to avoid it. Things to pray about…