Mornings are a great time to pray, the earlier, the better because the house is quiet and the demands for my attention are just about nil. Not only that but, biblically, there is a clear precedent throughout the Word of God that establishes a model of rising early and having a designated place to pray. It is the way we should plan to meet with God every day.
One early morning I did just that. I met with the Lord in prayer. During my prayer time, I vividly remember the Lord saying, through the inward whisper of the Holy Spirit, I want you to go to Bethany and ask her for forgiveness. For what Lord?, I said. I’ve done nothing to her. Why should I have to go? I won’t. He said, I want you to go and ask Bethany to forgive you. I continued to reason, But, Lord, it’s not me, it’s her. I don’t have anything against her. You will go, He said. Yes, Lord, I will go.
For if you forgive men when they sin against you, your heavenly Father will also forgive you. But if you do not forgive men their sins, your Father will not forgive your sins (Mt 6:14-15 NIV).
I called Bethany, set up a time and place, and several days later we met for lunch. She came into the restaurant and welcomed me with a hug and a big smile. We lived in the same neighborhood. We went to the same church. Our children went to the same school. We went to Friday night neighborhood socials together. However, under that smile was a ton of resentment towards me, and I really did not know why.
All the while I’m thinking, Why in the world am I even here? For me, if it’s not sincere, why bother. Do you know what I’m talking about? Do you have those kinds of relationships where you cringe on the inside because you know that they just do not like you? You’re not sure why, but you do know it for certain. It was one of those deals.
I smiled too and we exchanged pleasantries. We talked about our children, our husbands, the weather, and then, out of the blue, I heard that still small voice inside of my heart, “Ask her to forgive you.” “Bethany, will you please forgive me?” “For what?” she asked. “I’m not really sure, but I know that I have hurt you in some way. I am very sorry.” Bethany bowed her head to the table and began to weep profusely. I sat there in utter shock. This was no small thing. After she gained her composure, she looked up at me and said, “I’ve been so jealous of you because you are so much more spiritual than I am.” “What? You’ve got to be kidding me, right?”
After we talked, I remembered going to one of those Friday night socials and I walked onto the back porch of a friend’s home and just happened to enter at the time Bethany was telling everyone an inappropriate joke, one that should not be coming out of the mouth of a believer, especially a Sunday school teacher, which she was at the time. I remember being shocked and embarrassed that I heard it and shocked and embarrassed for her. She looked me in the eye that night and I am sure she saw the disappointment on my face. She had been drinking that night also, another big no-no for a teacher of God’s Word. But in her way of thinking, it was just a few casual beers with our neighborhood friends. Then it dawned on me. It was this very night that Satan had planted a seed of resentment in her heart toward me.
It would be just weeks later after that lunch, during a women’s retreat that she attended, that God allowed me to pray with her. She decided that night never to drink again. She was free.
- God is faithful.
- Our obedience is everything.
- Forgiveness is freeing.
Forgiveness unlocks the chains that hold you captive to another’s influence. It is the agent by which God allows healing and joy to come to your inner man. You are free, so be quick to forgive.
Why is forgiveness important?
You and I have been forgiven. When we accept Jesus as Lord and Savior, our sins are gone, wiped away forever, and forgotten in the mind of God. The Bible reads that when we confess our sins He is faithful and just and will forgive us our sins and cleanse us from all unrighteousness (I Jn 1:9). Simply put, we forgive because we have been forgiven and when we do, we will live a life of no regrets!