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Forgiving Is Liberating
I never knew real freedom until i learned to forgive. I didn't understand the liberating power of forgiveness until i came to a crossroad in my life, and i realized, i had to let go of unforgiveness that had held my soul captive for so long.
How i wished someone had told me, the day i was born, that hanging on to hurts (which are plentiful in our lifetime), is a pitfall. That it is dumb, if not destructive, to give in to all the disappointments and heartaches our world cruelly throws at us. I really think that the biggest waste of time, and perhaps, biggest mistake many of us make is when we 'collect' emotional garbage', load up on anger, resentment and bitterness, like they were valuables. I had my share of being cheated on, betrayed and maligned, name it, and if i could sell them, i would be very very rich. But, by the grace of God, i found enlightenment and discovered the miracle working power of forgiving oneself and others. I no longer allow this enemy to poison my being. I choose to fill my heart with love, rather than hating.
Life has not always been fair. When my first marriage did not work, i was disillusioned. There was everyone to blame, and enough reason to be angry. I hated the environment where i was trying to raise my child, and being a single mom. I was upset when my father's business went down, and my parents parted ways. I was in pain when my brother took his own life, and we were humiliated by the media by splashing the news as headline. For years, i tried to escape my brokenness and tried to erase the ugliness of my past. I was too naive and too lost to know, there was a way.
Jesus spoke of the importance of forgiving or showing mercy towards others, and one through the story of the parable of the Prodigal Son, perhaps the best known instance of such teaching and practice of forgiveness. And, in the Sermon on the Mount, he said, “Blessed are the merciful, for they will be shown mercy.” Matthew 5:7 “Therefore, if you are offering your gift at the altar and there remember that your brother has something against you, leave your gift there in front of the altar. First go and be reconciled to your brother; then come and offer your gift.” Matthew 5:23-24
“And when you stand praying, if you hold anything against anyone, forgive him, so that your Father in heaven may forgive you your sins.” Mark 11:25 “But I tell you who hear me: Love your enemies, do good to those who hate you, bless those who curse you, pray for those who mistreat you. If someone strikes you on one cheek, turn to him the other also.” Luke 6:27-29 “Be merciful, just as your Father is merciful.” Luke 6:36 “Do not judge, and you will not be judged. Do not condemn, and you will not be condemned. Forgive, and you will be forgiven.” Luke 6:37
A Woman who Taught Me How to Forgive
I saw the movie "Hiding Place" some 25 years ago, while i was young in the faith. It was a story that had such an impact on me, as i needed to forgive many people who i thought have hurt me. Corrie Ten Boom belonged to the Ten Boom family, who were devoted Christians dedicated to serving their fellow man. Their home was always opened to anyone in need. During the Second World War, the Ten Boom home became a hiding place for fugitives and those hunted by the Nazis. By protecting these people, Casper and his daughters, Corrie and Betsie, risked their lives. Corrie became a ringleader within the network of the Haarlem underground. Through these the Ten Boom family saved the lives of an estimated 800 Jews, and protected many Dutch underground workers. On February 28, 1944, they were betrayed and the Gestapo raided their home. Casper, Corrie and Betsie were all arrested. Corrie’s brother Willem, sister Nollie, and nephew Peter were at the house that day, and were also taken to prison.
Because underground materials and extra ration cards were found in their home, the Ten Boom family was imprisoned. Casper, 84 years old, died after only 10 days in Scheveningen Prison. When Casper was asked if he knew he could die for helping Jews, he replied, "It would be an honor to give my life for God's ancient people." Corrie and Betsie spent 10 months in three different prisons, the last was the infamous Ravensbruck Concentration Camp located near Berlin, Germany. Life in the camp was almost unbearable, but Corrie and Betsie spent their time sharing Jesus' love with their fellow prisoners. Many women became Christians in that terrible place because of Corrie and Betsie's witness to them. Betsie (59) died in Ravensbruck, but Corrie survived.
Corrie came home from the death camp. It was later learned that her freedom was actually due to clerical error, as all female captives her age in the camp were executed the week after. Corrie realized her life was a gift from God, and she needed to share what she and Betsie had learned in Ravensbruck: "There is no pit so deep that God’s love is not deeper still" and "God will give us the love to be able to forgive our enemies." At age 53, Corrie began a world-wide ministry which took her into more than 60 countries in the next 33 years! Corrie was knighted by the Queen of Holland. In 1968, the Holocaust Museum in Jerusalem asked Corrie to plant a tree in the Garden of Righteousness, in honor of the many Jewish lives her family saved. This remarkable lady even forgave one of the cruelest former camp guards who came up to her during one of her sermons in Germany, an event she recounted in her book “Tramp for the Lord.
In the early 1970's Corrie's book THE HIDING PLACE became a best seller and World Wide Pictures released the major motion picture "The Hiding Place." Corrie went on to write many other inspiring books and make several evangelical videos.Corrie was a woman who was faithful to God. She died on her 91st birthday, April 15, 1983.
What i thought i suffered paled compared to what Corrie and her family suffered in the hands of the Nazi's. I've never been placed in a camp, and the hellish conditions they were subjected to. Yet, Corrie and her sister refused to 'hate' their oppressors. They even sung in the midst of their trial.
Hiding Place-A Powerful Movie
It's a Daily Walk
I'm not a theologian, but i am a believer. i can forgive knowing, i am forgiven. I wish i can say that forgiving is an easy thing, but the truth is, it's not. There are many situations in our journey, as we relate to those around us, we will be challenged. I remember when i knew, had to forgive someone, but i wrestled for months to do so. I had no peace, my mind was pre-occupied, my mood was unstable, and i couldn't function. Nothing right seem to happen, as if i had hit an impasse. I finally wrote the letter, first asking to be forgiven for the hurt that i may have caused, and likewise told the person, she was forgiven for slandering my name. It felt right, and i sensed a peace come to me. I didn't get a positive response, at least not immediately. But, in time, our relationship was repaired and in fact, became even stronger. I said earlier, it is miraculous to take this path. After i forgave, things got rosier, and i of course was happier. Certain things that i had been praying for for along time, happened. Everyday, people inflict wounds on us, knowingly, and sometimes not. Forgiveness is a way of life, as i have learned it.
The scripture tells us, "Then Peter came and said to Him, 'Lord, how often shall my brother sin against me and I forgive him? Up to seven times?' Jesus said to him, 'I do not say to you, up to seven times, but up to seventy times seven.'" Matthew 18:21-22.
Jesus asked for God's forgiveness of the Romans who crucified him. "And Jesus said, 'Father, forgive them, for they know not what they do.'" Luke 23: 34. In his time, Jesus created controversy among the elders of the Temple, the Pharisees, when he told people their sins were forgiven.