Saturday, April 19, 2014

A Time to Be a Vessel

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. - Corrie Ten Boom

I was reading through some old blog posts and came across this gem. The past few days have been filled with news stories and conversations and speculations... all about the bad shape our world is currently in. There is fighting, war, blood moons, more fighting, more wars, conversations about the blood moons... all of which seem to be laced with a measure of fear. Fear about the end of the world, fear about what these wars and fighting will mean for other countries, and for our own. 

I am usually met with blank stares which turn to judgment when I tell people that I don't watch the news. But this is exactly why I don't watch the news. I'm not burying my head in the sand here, people. You'll be happy to know that I have an AP alert set up on my phone. Some of the alerts I read... some I don't. I don't have to watch the news every hour of the day to find out what's going on. The conversations that take place throughout each day, plus my Facebook feed, are all I need to keep abreast of current events. And believe me, that's about all I can take. My major in college was news broadcast, so I received my fill in how the news works. However, what I see on news stations today doesn't look at all like the lessons I learned in college. I see biased reporting on both sides, fear-based reporting, and fighting. I get enough fighting at home with a toddler - I don't need more.

So what is it that will heal our world of all these things? Better yet, what is it that will heal our world from the little things? I find it hard to relate to things like war - until I put it into perspective in my own life. How about the war I fought at work several weeks ago? Or the one I fight within myself everyday when I'm at the crossroads of choosing compassion over anger? Or the war I can't see, but can most certainly feel the effects of when a client tells me that she knows what her decision will be about this pregnancy, and can't I just help her end it right now? What about you? Is there someone in your life who has made it hard for you to live? An "enemy" of sorts? 

I've had those. In fact, I thought of my father as an enemy for a long time. Because of my inability to forgive, I was unable to truly love and trust. It caused even more upheaval in my life and brought out the flavors of hatred, insecurity, paranoia, distrust, and self-infliction. All of those things together make a horrible combination. And that's exactly what the enemy wanted in my life. But it wasn't until I realized that the enemy wasn't my father - that I fight a real enemy in my life who wants to rob me, steal from me, and even kill me - that I was able to fight more effectively. The fighting couldn't come from a place of anger. It had to come from a place of love and forgiveness. Not mine, mind you. I didn't have it in me. It hurt too much, and I was too raw and embarrassed to move an inch forward. It had to come from Him. 

Right before that sentence that Corrie Ten Boom uttered above was another gem in her story, "The Hiding Place." Her realization came when she was met with an actual guard who kept her in captivity during the holocaust. That's the nice way of putting it. She was humiliated, naked, made to feel "less than." Sound familiar? Jesus faced the same fate. But Corrie realized that Jesus died on the cross for that guard, and then asked herself, "Will I demand more than that for him?" Whoever the human enemy is your life, will you demand more than Jesus' death for that person? Will you hold yourself in captivity while you refuse to forgive them? Will you demand that they pay for the ways that they've hurt you because somehow you deserve more? It's a hard question and it stings. Our pride is a weird thing that drives us to expect that the world owes us for all the ways we've been hurt. 

I had to ask the Lord to forgive me and then to forgive my father because I just. couldn't. do. it. I couldn't do it. But He could, and He did. And in the act of willingness to walk through forgiveness even when I didn't feel it, I was able to release my father from the impossible standard of making it up to me. But what it really did was release me. I was the one in captivity - I was the one continuing to be hurt over and over. I don't expect to make it out of this life unscathed from hurting others - especially my own family. And I can't force people to forgive me for the things I do in this life. But I can do my part of being willing to forgive - to keep myself free of being offended at every turn - and of asking the Lord to be the forgiveness and love through me. Because if I'm really honest, I'll tell you that I'm incapable of anything that I just described. It's only His love, forgiveness, and compassion that will heal my little world. He has that place of honor in my life. He died for me, and He died for you. The necessary act has been done.

This Easter, will you accept this challenge with me? If we do our part of letting Him live through us to others in our little worlds, maybe, just maybe that love, compassion and forgiveness will spread to other little worlds. And maybe our whole world will end up being better for it. All it takes is the one small act of letting Him change your life. 

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