Today I am writing about forgiveness because it has been the single most transformational processes in my life. I talk about forgiveness all the time. The blessing of being forgiven for the wrong that I have done to someone else, the power of being able to forgive those who have done wrong to myself, the capacity to forgive myself for the wrong that I have done to others and to myself. There is so much to say! Forgiveness melts away shame, dissolves anger, erases bitterness, and eases emotional pain. The act of forgiveness empowers the person to move forward to achieving personal growth and fulfillment.
Talking about forgiveness is a thorny issue for many people. When someone has brought an offense, physical harm or emotional pain to another person there is anger and much inner turmoil. Saying I forgive you seems trite and irrelevant. Forgiving is an a process that takes much time an effort. For me, my journey began with personal faith in Jesus, receiving His love and forgiveness. That transformed me.
Have you heard of Corrie Ten Boon? She was a Christian woman in Holland who in 1939 helped the Jews hide from the Nazi army. In her book “The Hiding Place” she tells the story of being caught and imprisoned in a Nazi Death camp, where she was abused by soldiers and witnessed horrible crimes against her family and friends. Her story has had deep impact on my personal growth and I would like to share a part of her story.
When the war ended, Corrie was released from Ravensberg and began a ministry of an Evangelist traveling extensively throughout Europe and North America. Her message was about the power of forgiveness. One evening after preaching and praying at the altar for many people, she had a one on one encounter with the very soldier who had raped and physically abused her. Here is an exerpt from her book:
He came up to me as the church was emptying, beaming and bowing. “How grateful I am for your message Fräulein”, he said “To think that, as you say, He has washed my sins away!”
His hand was thrust out to shake mine. And I, who had preached so often to the people in Bloemendaal the need to forgive, kept my hand at my side. Even as the angry, vengeful thoughts boiled through me, I saw the sin of them. Jesus Christ had died for this man; was I going to ask for more? Lord Jesus, I prayed, forgive me and help me to forgive him I tried to smile, I struggled to raise my hand. I could not. I felt nothing, not the slightest spark of warmth or charity. And so again I breathed a silent prayer. Jesus, I cannot forgive him. Give me Your Forgiveness.
As I took his hand the most incredible thing happened. From my shoulder along my arm and through my hand a current seemed to pass from me to him, while into my heart sprang a love for this stranger that almost overwhelmed me.
And so I discovered that it is not on our forgiveness any more than on our goodness that the world’s healing hinges, but on His. When He tells us to love our enemies, He gives, along with the command, the love itself.”
This entry in today’s blog is just an introduction to this topic. I have more to share in future posts. I welcome your thoughts. Maybe you have a personal experience that you would like to share?