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Forgiveness An Act of God's Grace in the Face of True Evil
Forgiveness God's Mandate
True Forgiveness is God's Grace in Action
While it is more often than not relatively easy to forgive those we love and care about for small things that offend us, forgiving your enemies for evil and horrendous acts done to you or those you love is another matter indeed. I personally have struggled to forgive those who have cheated me out of fairly large sums of money, and that was difficult enough.
I can't imagine going through circumstances like Corrie Ten Boom in " at the hands of the merciless Nazi's and finding the willpower to forgive. Anyone not familiar with her story should read it to understand the horrors she went through and watched being done to her family members. After the war was over, she was speaking in a church and was totally aghast to see a ruthless Nazi prison guard come forward to ask her forgiveness for the war crimes perpetrated against her and her family. It's then that we realize the power of God rising up in us, giving us the grace to release them to God's divine, perfect justice. "The Hiding Place
In dealing with homeless people on the streets, the greatest factor in common among those with severe addictions, mental or physical illnesses, and demonic oppression was holding onto unforgiveness. Sometimes not being able to forgive themselves, or not allowing God to forgive them.
Sometimes it is not apparent to us that there is unforgiveness in our hearts, but it's usually obvious to those around us. In the story of the unforgiving debtor in Matthew 18:21-35; we as Christians find that since we are forgiven, that we are called to forgive.
Looking at verses 32-35 we see "Then the king called in the man he had forgiven and said, "You evil servant! I forgave you that tremendous debt because you pleaded with me. Shouldn't you also have mercy on your fellow servant, just as I had mercy on you?" Then the angry king sent the man to prison until he had paid every penny. "That's what my heavenly Father will do to you if you refuse to forgive your brothers and sisters in your heart." (NLT Bible)
The (KJV Bible) says turned over to the tormentors rather than sent to prison. For those that might say that he refers only to forgiving our brothers and sisters, let's look back to Matthew 5: 44, 45; it says But I say, love your enemies! Pray for those who persecute you! In that way, you will be acting as true children of your Father in heaven...
While some that are learned in the Greek and Hebrew may argue with me over the meaning of the words translated as tormentors. From my understanding, this also refer to a spiritual or physical torment, and can refer to demonic oppression. If we are forgiven by God Almighty, we are called to forgive, trusting God's true judgement as we release any right we may think we have to God.
A friend that I know very well has told me of many things he saw in prison that caused hatred and unforgiveness in his heart. Even though they never happened to him personally, they affected his spiritual and mental well being terribly. His story starts here: I was lucky to have a top bunk after the influx of maximum security inmates into the prison. They were safer to have, as it was more difficult to trap you in with half a dozen gang members looking to rob or rape you.
My bunk was right in the corner next to the fire exit door, not that it would do you any good if there was a fire, as it was always locked with three keyed deadbolts. But it had a four inch by twenty inch strip of glass that the bright outside lights shined through all night to read by. Late at night, I was reading another Louis L'Amour book, "The Silver Canyon," when I noticed a group of thugs coming around to this side of the dorm. I pretended to keep reading my book, as I tensed up and readied to defend myself.
They kind of meandered, as if they had nothing better to do, suddenly rushing around a bunk only two bunks down from me. The young kid there was asleep, suddenly there were eight or ten hardened convicts around him. They double tapped him awake with steel pipes to the head, then two knives were quickly put to his throat. I heard him whimper and beg as they took his twenty dollar draw for the week, continuing to hit him repeatedly with their pipes. I longed to jump up and fight with him, but he wouldn't even fight for himself or resist in any way. I just couldn't justify getting myself killed for someone who wouldn't even fight for himself.
They then drug him off to the bathrooms, so not in the guards view and at least I no longer had to see the horrendous acts of evil being done to him. I had just got to this prison a month ago, now it had turned into a real hellish place seemingly over night. I had just turned 21 almost a month ago, about the time I hit this prison compound. It was that night watching what happened to Evan, that I decided and swore to do whatever it took not to let the same thing happen to me.
Early that morning, an ambulance took Evan away to the hospital prison sixty miles away, he never came back. Word was that he was repeatedly gang raped and beaten so badly that he was two or three months in the hospital before being released to an easier prison. Nothing ever happened to the thugs that attacked him, for fear of prison retribution taking his life, he never told who the perpetrators were. I saw some of them, but I never told anyone either, I wanted to live through my three year prison sentence.
The next day, I asked around for the most dangerous martial arts guy on the compound, but one who was a reasonable guy. There's a lot of dangerous guys in prison, but one that was reasonable and sane as well, now that was a tall order. My final choice after much searching was a fellow called Mickey, they said he was deadly in martial arts and laughed while dealing playfully with dangerous encounters.
Someone I knew pointed out this wiry little guy out in the walking field as the guy that I wanted. I hurried out to discuss my proposition with him. He heard me coming behind him and turned around to give me a questioning look.
"Are you Mickey?"
"Who's asking, and why do you want to know," he asked with suspicion in his voice?
"My name's Billy. I'm told that you're an expert in martial arts tactics, and want to learn somethings to stop a group of attackers when it happens. I'm willing to pay whatever it takes short of my ass." I said, and relaxed as that brought a chuckle out of him.
"You don't have to worry about that from me. Let's walk around the track and discuss it. Of course you understand, that the guards just won't allow us to practice any fighting techniques. They'll think we're fighting and start shooting around us. So you need to first of all be aware and listen to what I say. I'll tell you what I refer to as my "drop 'em and stop 'me" or "kill, cripple, and maim" techniques, whichever you prefer to call them. So you need to practice them in your mind, blocking moves, breaking bone moves, and kill shots. You can't tell anyone that I'm teaching you these things, or I'll be locked in solitary for awhile. By the way what are you willing to pay?" he asks with a sheepish grin.
"You tell me, what's it gonna cost?" I ask hesitantly.
"Well, let's start like this, can you get me a pack of Marlboro reds in the box and a coke for starters?"
"No problem," I said and hurried towards the commissary to find a line. I got a couple of cokes and his pack of smokes and started heading back, only to see four big thugs surrounding him. I started to run to help him, until he glanced at me with a smile and just shook his head slowly.
Two of the thugs pulled chunks of re-bar pipe from their pants, and a third one pulled a shank as they closed in around him. By now, I was close enough to hear the huge one in front say, "Punk, I want you to give me that gold chain around your neck, before we have to hurt you."
Mickey lifted up the chain, as if to merely admire the beautiful crucifix on the bottom, and replyed, "This chain, no I think you'll have to try to take it."
This brought a snicker from the whole group, as they closed in within about five feet. When Mickey went into a stance called the crane, they laughed out loud and the one behind to the right went for a rib slash with his knife. I got to admit his stance did look amusing, standing there on one leg with the other drawn up in front. Mickey jumped up and smashed that fella's knee right out the back, spun while still airborne and ripped another man's ear completely off his head and threw it in a third man's face before he landed facing the last man standing. He smiled at him and gave a double-handed come on gesture to the man who was falling all over himself trying to get away.
I took all of two seconds to stop four attackers cold, I was awe struck, as I rushed up to give him his coke and smokes. He took the pack and pulled one, lit it and handed it back to me. "You may as well keep this pack, they aren't gonna let me have 'em in solitary anyway. You better get the hell outta here, or the hacks will think that you had a part in this." On that note, he downed the coke, and said as an afterthought. "We'll restart lessons when I get out in a couple weeks. Hey don't go to far. Watch how I deal with the guards differently, so as not to hurt them. Get going, here they come."
I look up to see two groups of guards rushing across the compound in riot gear with billy clubs and helmets. The first six hit him all at once, he was laughing the whole time as he dodged club blows, took clubs away, flipped guards into others. He was smiling and laughing out loud as he had tossed or downed the first six guards in two or three seconds without hurting anyone. Only two still had hold of their billies as they got to their feet.
The second batch arrived and waded in for the same results, no one had touched him, yet he downed the second six with the same playfulness. The guards were obviously not as amused as they regrouped for more of the same, until someone finally got a shot to the side of his head with their club. It seemed to me that he knew it was coming and had turned just enough to catch a glancing blow. He seemed to know it was time to give it up, before he pissed them off enough to beat him to death.
They all hit him several times with their billies, several adding a few kicks just for good measure. Mickey appeared to be unconscious now, with blood coming from several knots on his head. Four of the guards picked him up to carry him off to solitary confinement. I had no doubt that Mickey could have taken the guards as well, he just didn't want to hurt them. That, and he was stuck here, so it was ultimately a losing battle to begin with.
It was several weeks before I saw Mickey again, and learned how to defend myself with lethal shots to kill, cripple, or maim most attackers. It wasn't the attackers that scared me anymore, it was that I could spend the rest of my life in prison for defending myself. Later, when being attacked, I discovered the rage and hatred that had lodged in my heart. It not only scared my attackers away, it scared the hell out of me. I begged them to try me, so that I could extract life taking vengeance for all that I had seen them do to others.
After I left prison, realizing how dangerous that I had become, and the hatred in my heart. I begged God for the knowledge and ability to forgive these evil fiends. God indicated that I should in fact, pray for my enemies, that they might come to a saving knowledge of his grace and love. It is really difficult to pray for such evil people. I prayed for many months that they either get saved or that God bring justice to them. I released them as well as myself from being the one to administer that justice. After a time, I realized that it would be to God's glory if any of these men got saved. If not, they would face a just, holy God on judgement day, and I wouldn't want to be standing in their shoes. The biggest work of his grace and love was the one he wrought in my heart, replacing rage and hatred with love and understanding.
Thanks for reading this rough and tumble story, I hope and pray that there was redeeming value to it. May God use it for his glory. Oh, by the way, my friend Billy is a preacher that would do anything for anyone, even those who don't deserve it, like you and me both.
For more on Billy's Prison Story:
- God's Divine Intervention in a Convict's Life
Billy found himself in prison for dealing marijuana, thrusting him into the eye of a hellish storm of terror that he had never imagined.