Ever had to face fear head on? That terrifying moment when you are eye to eye with it and you are not sure what to do. Run? Face it? Turn around and walk away. Fear is a very fickle thing and often the fear we are facing may actually be more afraid of you. Life gives us plenty of opportunities for being fearful and usually the fears begin at very early ages. I, for example, am afraid of deep water from being thrown off a boat when I was young and then life added insult to that fear when my son had a near drowning incident at age 6. Fear comes in many forms. Darkness. Amusement rides. Heights. Depths. Small spaces. Insects. Animals. The list is probably endless. Today though, I would like to discuss the fear of facing people, specifically those we have forgiven,
The dictionary defines forgiveness as:
the action or process of forgiving or being forgiven.
Hmmmm…forgiveness is an action or a process….not instant like mashed potatoes? If God has been teaching me ANYTHING in this recent adventure called life it is to forgive and to keep on forgiving and forgiving and forgiving AND forgiving. This has been an active process for months now. Every time I look at my gutted out home. FORGIVENESS. Each time I begin to doubt finances. FORGIVENESS. Moments when I feel abandoned. FORGIVENESS. Each and every time these things arise, the Holy Spirit flashes this big, obnoxiously bright neon sign at me. FORGIVENESS!
In the Bible there are many examples and discussions about forgiveness. The one which stands out to me in this season is this one:
Then Peter came to Jesus and asked, “Lord, how many times shall I forgive my brother or sister who sins against me? Up to seven times?” Jesus answered, “I tell you, not seven times, but seventy-seven times.”
Over and over and over and over and over again, choose forgiveness. Yes. They may
have hurt you. Yes! They may have destroyed something you valued. Yes. They may not
be deserving of forgiveness, yet God says they are. It shapes out character every time we
choose to forgive. Each time we choose to stop cursing and blaming and crying and ask
God to forgive, we bless Him and He changes our character.
Just this past weekend while shopping I came face to face with someone I had forgiven.
At first run-in I simple turned my cart in the other direction and choose Angus Beef for
dinner instead of the pork roast I had in mind. Then the second encounter 15 minutes
later in the produce section I actually saw the person from a distance and stared right at
them not intentionally. What I saw in the 10 second stare down was fear. Fear in their
eyes. As terrified as I was of encountering this person, in that 10 second moment all I
could feel was compassion, yet I chose to keep on moving.
So many things happened on the inside of me in a very short period of time. My flesh
flared up and wanted a confrontation. My spirit was calling out compassion. And here
was the Holy Spirit over there with His flashing neon sign. What I realized in that brief
span of time is that forgiveness is often an easy thing when that person is not right in
front of you. I remember saying SEVERAL times almost in a chant “I choose to forgive.
Bless that person Lord abundantly and above all they could think ask or expect!” But
when confronted with the fear of abandonment, mistrust and feeling vulnerable the act
of forgiveness is much more difficult, almost scary.
So, my natural old-self was like, “Well Great! Now I will have to shop at a different
store!” I had this reaction because in the past I would either run from my fears or close
my eyes until they disappeared. The more God is shaping my character the less I want to
run. There was actually a part of me that wanted to hug this person, but I’m just not
there yet. I’m ever so thankful I have chosen forgiveness, otherwise it may have been
quite the scene at the grocery store. Thank God for the Holy Spirit and that silly sign of
I will continue to choose forgiveness until I am out of breath. I will continue to respond
rather than react. AND I will be forever thankful God is changing me into the likeness of
His Son, Jesus with every situation I encounter. I choose forgiveness now not only
because it is freedom for me, but it is also an opportunity to pray over someone who God
loves just as much as He does me.
Forgiveness is an active process of learning how to become just like Jesus.
It is a continual process like the sun orbiting the earth.
It should never stop.