Google Reader (11): “Fight To Forgive
from The Blazing Center by Mark Altrogge
I was working construction for a bear of man I’ll call Harry. Harry didn’t talk much to us lackeys on his crew, except to bark out our next mind-numbing, back-breaking task.
One day Harry orders me to go to an apartment unit and “run insulation,” that is, stuff panels of fiberglass insulation between the wall studs and ceiling joists, a miserable job that requires me to wear a mask, safety glasses, and long-sleeved shirt, even on the hottest day of the year, to keep fiberglass dust from filling my lungs and eyes, and covering my entire body. Harry’s under a deadline from the job foreman, so he tells me to run the insulation as fast as I can, he doesn’t care what it looks like, just get it done quick. So I jam it and ram it in. In record time. And it isn’t pretty.
Next day Harry sends for me and rips into me in front of the foreman. “I can’t believe what a sloppy job you did. Get up there and tear it all out, and do the job right.” The foreman isn’t happy about the apartment and I’m the fall guy.
I feel the heat rising in my cheeks. “You told me to do it as fast as I could and you didn’t care what it looked like.”
“Shut up and get up there and do it like you were supposed to,” he snaps.
Alone in the room, I seethe as I strip out the insulation. Clouds of fiberglass dust billow around me, like the bitter thoughts in my heart.
“Father, in Jesus’ name, I forgive him,” I pray.
But mere moments later I find myself thinking, “I can’t believe he did that to me. I did exactly what he said then he reams me out in front of the foreman.”
I recall hearing that when God says he will remember our sins no more, he doesn’t literally forget them, but makes a conscious decision not to bring them up again. So although I can’t help it if bitter thoughts arise, I can decide to not bring them up or dwell on them. So I determine that every time they come knocking, I’ll pray for grace to reaffirm my forgiveness.
And they come knocking. I’m fine for a while, then catch myself thinking, “I should have said this,” or “Maybe I’ll say this.” Wave after wave of bitterness washes in, but I keep fighting, saying, “NO! I will not dwell on this. Father, in Jesus’ Name, I forgive him.” By the end of the day the thoughts begin to subside and I start to enjoy God’s peace.
If I struggled so hard to forgive such a small offense, I can’t fathom how hard it is for you who have suffered horribly from others’ sins. But Jesus commands us to forgive because through Christ he forgave our hell-deserving sins against him. And when he commands he supplies grace to obey. You may have to swing your sword for a long time, but it glorifies God to imitate the One who said, “Father, forgive them, for they don’t know what they’re doing.”
photo by Derekwin”