Forgiveness: Healing the heart wounds
By Al Early
The response to this series on forgiveness has been the strongest I have had to any series of columns I have written.
People have shared with me their experiences of the power of forgiveness, and how they didn’t want to do the hard work of forgiveness, but once they did everything the Bible tells us about the freedom from bondage we will experience they do. I invite you to go back and read the past articles, or do some serious reading.
I can recommend at least two books on this very important area of spiritual healing. The book that had the greatest impact on me was “The Bait of Satan” by John Bevere. I had to read it three times to realize how many offenses I had harbored, and had turned my heart to stone.
This series has been based on Neil Anderson’s book “The Bondage Breaker,” pp. 221-225. This book deals directly with spiritual healing, and has taught me much about healing the heart wounds that life throws at us. His seven steps to freedom contain many profound insights into God’s word and finding healing from the battles of life.
Today, I want to invite you to make a list of all the people you know you have to forgive, and forgive them from your heart. This sounds a lot easier than it is. The third time I read “The Bait of Satan,” I realized that there was a church body that I had held offense toward for 10 years and didn’t even know it. I had just categorized that church body as stupid, and filed them away where stupid things belong.
God, using the scriptures, and Bevere’s book, showed me that my relationship with the church body was like David’s relationship with King Saul. Even though Saul wanted to kill David, Saul was God’s anointed, and David had to trust God would protect him. David was not to retaliate against King Saul. He was to respect him as king, regardless of whether David thought Saul deserved it or not. God had placed Saul on the throne.
God showed me that my relationship with this church body was similar (minus the desire to kill me), and I was to trust God’s plan, and respect the church body. I was to stop being sarcastic, mean-spirited, and rude when I went to church meetings. God made it clear that these signs of “righteous indignation” were not impressive, but quite destructive and hurtful. I started praying I would be nice whenever I went to a meeting.
Over time I saw how being nice opened doors to witness to the power of scripture. One day I was asked to pray for members of the group that were going through a hard time. As I prayed for them, God broke my heart of stone, and filled me with His Holy Spirit so that my prayer became a powerful healing prayer in their lives. I was changed, they were changed and we saw the power of forgiveness.
Now look again at the list of people you need to forgive. Forgiveness is choosing not to hold someone’s sin against them. Too often, we hold onto our imaginary “sin lock box,” that special place we file away sins of the past. Then we can pull those sins out, and wave them in front of someone we feel is doing what we don’t want.
The power of forgiveness teaches us to let destroy the “sin lock box” and forgive from the heart. Pray a prayer like this for each person on your list, “Dear Lord, I forgive (name) for what they have done (or not done). They owe me nothing (if you mean this then the healing can begin). I ask you to bless them, and then speak a blessing on their life.”
Make it a really good blessing and God will be able to heal the heart wounds, break your heart of stone and give you a heart of flesh. This is what God desires to do for us when we are obedient to Him.
We read in Ezekiel 36:26, “I will give you a new heart and put a new spirit in you; I will remove from you your heart of stone and give you a heart of flesh.”
Perhaps the people I prayed for that day don’t remember that prayer, and they certainly have no idea the impact it had on me. I was forever changed. That is what I want for you to experience as you trust in God’s power of forgiveness.
To find out more about Al Earley or read previous articles, see www.lagrangepres.com.