It’s Time To Forgive

Unforgiveness is a passive form of vengeance. When we harbor unforgiveness in our hearts, we are holding matters in our own hands, to try and make sure that the punishment WE think is due comes to pass. We hold on to the debt from the debtor, keeping a very detailed record(s) of the wrongs committed.

Several years ago we owned a home in Texas. We talked to our neighbors about rebuilding the fence that sat between our two properties. We agreed to take care of the labor portion of it, and in good faith, our neighbors agreed to split the cost of materials with us. Long story short….the fence was built and completed, but we never saw the repayment.

Now, I’ll be honest with you. For some time, this really bothered me. It got on my nerves, frankly. It was wrong. We had been wronged. And I couldn’t let it go. Every time I’d balance out our finances, I’d pull that ledger back out and fume over it. Ruminating over how much they still owed us. I’d think about the things we could have been doing if they would just pay us back for what was rightfully due us. To the penny I knew how much they owed us.

But….what I noticed in the midst of all that was that my heart began to change. There was an undercurrent of anger that became my constant companion. My heart began to get hardened and a level of bitterness started to set in. Everytime I saw my neighbors pull in to their drive way, I’d roll my eyes and remember that ledger. Whenever they were out in their backyard, I’d go inside because I didn’t even want to see them. But then finally, one day, driving around in my car…having another “episode” where I was playing and replaying it all over in my head…I stopped…and with what little strength I had, I said these few words,”God, I’m letting this go, and I’m giving it over to You.”

I went home that evening, pulled out that ledger where I had kept precise track of every cost associated with the building of that fence and I tore it up and threw it in the trash.

I forgave the debt. I stopped thinking about all the things that money could have paid for. I stopped rehearsing over and over how wrong it was. I stopped wishing they would do what they said they would do. And I MOVED ON.

That happened over 20 years ago. Today, I don’t even remember what the balance on that ledger was. But as I sit here writing this, looking outside my bedroom window at my children playing in our yard, at my husband sitting peacefully on our deck, at a home that I never could have dreamed we’d live in….that fence back in Texas seems so small. I am drawn to tears and in awe of God’s faithfulness and goodness in our lives. He enlarged us in so many ways since then. But much of where we are today, and much of what we have the privilege of walking in, is not only because of what has been added to us. I can honestly say that just as equally important – if not more so – it has come as a result of the things we’ve willingly let go of and released into His hands. Yes, of all the things I’ve learned and am still learning, forgiveness has been one of the greatest difference makers of them all.

I’m not sure exactly why I felt led to share this today. Maybe for some of you, there’s something(s) you’re still holding on to pretty tightly. Some wrongs that have been done to you that you still feel owed something for. Some ledgers you’re keeping close track of. Some scenarios you’re rehearsing over and over in your head. Maybe you’re all too familiar with that undercurrent of anger that I mentioned, as you keep thinking over and over of what “could have been” had that wrong not been committed. I want to encourage you, God sees and He is a God of justice. But He cannot rightfully act on your behalf if you keep standing in the way. If you keep trying to play the role of judge and punisher yourself. He cannot bring the healing your soul so desperately longs for if you won’t let go of those chains of indebtedness that are binding you so tightly to the one(s) who have hurt you.

Righteousness and justice are the very foundation of His throne and He knows – better than you could ever imagine – how to take what was meant for wrong and turn it into something so good that what happened will pale in comparison.

What are you holding on to friend? What is it that causes your blood to boil and seizes you with anger and tension? From where come your grumblings? Where you do fear you’ve missed out or what is trying to convince you that someone or something actually had the power to hurt you so deeply that your life could never be made right again? He knows the end from the beginning. He saw it before it even happened. And He already took it into account and made a way for you to be made right. For you to be made whole. Lacking nothing. At peace. The payment for your healing has been paid. The cost for whatever was wrongfully taken from you has been covered. Surely He has born our griefs and carried our sorrows. But it’s up to you to cut the chains. It’s up to you to let it go. That burden does not fit you. It doesn’t look good on you. It’s forcing you to change who you are in order to carry it. And it’s time….once and for all….to let it go.

“Strengthen the weak hands, and make firm the feeble knees. Say to those who are fearful-hearted, Be strong and do not fear! Behold your God will come with vengeance, With the recompense of God; He will come and save you.” Isaiah 35:3-4 NKJV

Bring your ledgers to the cross. Spread them out before Him, in His presence. Yank them forcefully and violently off the throne of your own heart and cast your cares upon Him, for He cares for you. Let the cry of your heart now be, Vindicate me, Oh God! Leave it forever in His hands, and come to know the freedom of release.

In His Service,

Linda G. Riddle