Wednesday, June 11, 2008

Forgive, As I Have Forgiven You...

Dear Friends and Family,

I am writing this night to ask for your prayers. This week the Lord has been placing me in conversations and situations that scream the need to have understanding and a right heart in the area of forgiveness.

It began with my little ones. Now that Summer is here...WOW! All the myriad of opportunities for offense to take place! = ) To watch them get angry with one another, EVERY DAY! To see them lash out in harsh words, physical pain, avoidance, and silent treatments. To be given the marching orders as their Mom to, "Train them up in the way that they should go." To see myself fail miserably in my own responses to hurt or anger or frustration. To know that we all fall short of the Glory of God, and to know His incredible mercy and grace when we deserve nothing but death.

I was reading Joshua last week. Have never read Joshua all the way through! There was a passage that talked about when the wall of Jericho fell and the Israelites were sent into the city, God told them NOT to take any of the gold or silver. Those things were to go for the house of God. This one man was so taken with some of the items that he took them and hid them. The Lord told Joshua that someone had taken what was the Lord's and that that person and his whole household was to be killed because of it. When Joshua finally discovered the culprit the man told the truth and revealed where the items were. I thought for sure he would be spared, but no. He and his whole household were killed. I felt such sadness about this. I couldn't comprehend this. I realized what Jesus did for us. That He stands in between us and God the Father and He pays the price for our sins. He FORGIVES US.

Forgiveness. WOW! What a complex issue. Something Jesus says to, "Forgive as I have forgiven you." He even gave the parable about the man who went to his master and asked for mercy for a debt he owed. The man forgave him. Then the servant was approached by a man who owed HIM money and he threw him into jail. The master found out about this and was so grieved that this man had been so forgiven but he could not forgive another the same. The servant was severely punished for this.

Forgiveness is SO HARD! It's amazing how I reprimand my children when they are angry and lash out in words or actions against their siblings. I tell them to ask their sibling for forgiveness. They are VERY reluctant to do this! When they finally "let go" and say the words, "Will you forgive me?" to their sibling, and the sibling forgives them, the JOY that floods their faces, the release of tension, IMMEDIATE release of tension, the inevitable HUGE hug and I LOVE YOU! It's an amazing picture of what God intends for us in forgiving one another our sins.

This week I had a young friend who was so angry with someone he punched them in the face. This young friend was SO MAD at this other person because that person was slandering his family and himself. He felt so provoked that he, "Just couldn't help himself." I have another situation where someone did something to someone else that was so awful that they have not really spoken to this person in over 8 years. It's actually unto that person dying. There is no hope in sight that this relationship and the relationships connected to it will ever heal.

With these three issues coming so strong in my life this week I was reminded of my dear friend, Jean Paul Samputu, a survivor of the Rwandan Genocide. A man whose parents and 3 siblings were murdered by people whom he knew in his village. Neighbors and friends. The killings for some of his family members went on for several days, slow agonizing deaths. Jean Paul escaped from Rwanda and battled for 9 years with alcoholism and ANGER. He then came upon the idea of Forgiveness. Something he could not do. He was told of God's forgiveness and the command we have to forgive our enemies and to love them. LOVE OUR ENEMIES!! WHAT??? HOW??? With the power of God's gift of FORGIVENESS. Jean Paul ended up forgiving those that killed his family and ended up going to the trial in his country and forgiving them PUBLICLY! In my email you will see Jean Paul with his ARMS AROUND two men. These are the men that killed his family.

In light of this kind of hideous atrocity, to hold unforgiveness against anyone in ANY lesser offense seems trivial and ridiculous. Jean Paul uses this thought that "Forgiveness is a weapon against Genocide." Forgiveness is Freedom.

I write to you today that you would PLEASE pray for these situations I have spoken of. It is not necessary to share names or details, just to pray for the Lord to move in these situations and these hearts and that the enemy would be bound in their hearts and lives. "For it is not against flesh and blood that we fight, but against the powers and principalities of this dark world." I hunger to see life and breath and joy and love in these situations and the lives that affect them. To see God glorified through these individuals and circumstances. Please pray for our family that OUR prayers would "Availeth Much" and that the Lord might use us to bless and encourage. And please pray for Bill and I that we would be right models to our children and right teachers as we teach them to go to their King Jesus and ask Him to strengthen them and give them courage to forgive because it is not easy to is one of the most difficult things to do in this life. But Jesus is Mighty to pour out His Spirit and strengthen us to lay it all down for our sake, His sake, and the sake of those we hold bound by our unforgiveness.

I sent again, in my email, the article from Beyond Living Magazine with Jean Paul's full account written. Please take a few minutes to read this. It is a very powerful testimony. Also, I have have put on the email the picture of Jean Paul and the gentlemen he forgave. I couldn't figure out how to get these on my blog yet! = )

As I leave you this night, take a moment and ask the Lord to show you any unforgiveness you might have against another, and if so, ask Him to help you to open your clenched fists and offer your hurt, your pain, your anger, and your fear over to Him so that He might fill you and FREE YOU from the bondage of unforgiveness.

"...with the sweetest affection." (1 Peter 1:22)
Bill, Cheryl, Caela, Isabella, Daniel, Gracie, and Liliana


Eric and Michelle said...

This is awesome Cheryl.

jody said...

HI Cheryl! Welcome to blog world-I am so far behind on posts!! This phase of our adoption is sucking up all my time but I keep up w/ reading blogs at least :) Your summer sounds like mine, crazy, stressful and wonderful all at the same time :) We should meet up at a park sometime for lunch w/ the kids and playing :)


Eric and Michelle said...

I would like to be included in that meet up ladies :)