Remember back to a time when you had gotten the worse sunburn that you can ever imagine getting in your whole life. Remember the sting, and how no matter how much Aloe you applied it was like a drop of water in a desert in the moment of agony. Then the skin starts to peel, and there is this exposed new skin that starts to dry, and feel more like sand paper, and in some cases the burn was so bad that your skin still burned. Now imagine that dry brittle skin doesn’t go away because there is this one brand of Aloe that you need to take in order for the pain to go away this sounds too good to be true right?
Sign me up for a cure all to sunburn, or sunblock. This is how unforgiveness plays out our hearts as a metaphorical look at the condition we leave ourselves in as we hold on to pain, grudges, hurt, etc. We become this baron dried up plot of skin, or maybe land would be a better analogy as the dust bowl in the 1920’s would be another good look considering the agricultural themes the Bible carries for us. One of the chief things that the Lord Jesus asked me to do when I professed faith in him was first to forgive my earthly father for what at the time I considered unspeakable atrocities. This was something that I hung on to for years not wanting to forgive him for anything he said, did, or didn’t do as these were now all things I couldn’t control. This made life very plain, horizontal, and baron with harsh conditions like a harsh sunburn, dried skin, or a desert.
Do you believe that there is any rest in a desert?
We may come to this realization at some point in our lives that our lives are ours, and we can decide things like outcome, and fate, and how others are remembered. While there are momentary things can alter perception, and you may believe that about yourselves, and you are the master of your own destiny. But friends this is just the here and now when Israel wandered through the desert in the pentateuch there was no rest in Israel’s disobedience, and there were no heroes of the day that mapped out their best lives now. God led, directed, and mastered as well as provided, and established his people as he establishes us today.
What is unforgiveness? Popular Blink-182 song ‘Wildfire’ lyrics say this:
“I don’t forget
I don’t forgive
I’ll never change the way I live
I always fought the urge to fall in line
I turned my back on all the rules
I’ll never heed the king of fools
I’ll never lead the perfect kind of life.”
This is a perfect example of the dialogue of thought that manifests as unforgiveness or unrepentanted as this hostility boils out of our hearts as this were all defilement of humanity comes from the heart (Matthew 15:11). This is generational, and transcultural in nature so don’t think your aggressor is an anomaly as in the eternal view of things humanity as a whole is the anomaly when it relates to God who is holy and thus set apart from relating to us in this way. Unforgiveness is also a lifestyle as seen in the lyrics above this comes from years of hardness, rebellion, and sin that has dried in the heart like cement as this is what becomes of hoarders of forgiveness we become what we don’t want. We become like our aggressors, bitter, and often alone and apart from God. This is counter intuitive to those who do believe because this defies love which is the eternal currency of Christianity John 3:16, John 13, as it prevents the eventual flow of those whom Christ calls into himself because he laid his life down in love to redeem, and love a once lost humanity forever.
Forgiveness also kills pride and in the West we are taught to be bigger, and bigger because we are more powerful. Corporate America demonstrates this ideology in the culture that they cultivate in the workplace we are groomed on all fronts to be winners at all costs in everything we do. There is no room for sorry in this closed system or forgiveness in terms with this culture which is why we demonstrate such fear, and hostility because it’s always easier to fight back, keep moving, or get revenge than it is to eat the costs of our offenses. It would then make more sense because the pain we carry is less if we engage these routes we can always say that we forgive as the words themselves can carry your name in text, or social media as a quick facebook message can do the trick as it requires no sacrifice on your end and you can still be the hero in your own right. Right? Why say what you don’t mean? Why give someone a gift if you don’t want to give them one? When we don’t forgive someone we indeed ingest spiritual poison that slowly eats away at us and while we are the ones that rage those who have hurt us do not share in this. Jesus tells a parable in Matthew 18:21-35 of the unmerciful servant whom is forgiven of this insanely large debt out of mercy given from the judge. Only to turn around and not forgive the debt of another shortly after being forgiven of much more himself only to be thrown in jail anyway for his hardness of heart, and unforgiveness to another. God forgives us of much more than anyone in this world can ever owe us, and because we are forgiven of much we too can than like Paul in Philippians 4 be joyful much and set our minds on things that are more restful than the pain, and debts others owe us.
You have no karmic duty to uphold, and no cultural superstition that plays out in this world so there is no shame in feeling hurt, grieving, or not being okay. You can allow yourself to be a mess, and mess up because you don’t have to grow old and become this bitter old dinosaur that doesn’t give out halloween candy, or relives his past life well into his 40’s and beyond chasing the rage, or disassociating yourself until you become a shell of who you once were. Jesus didn’t die for you when you were at your best but he died for you when you were and are a mess so he can be your best. So you have this freedom to allow him to wear the hurt of your aggressors, and the shame you carry as an aggressor, or expose those areas to you if you truly have a wonderful life in the here and now.
Forgiveness is not a one and done thing someone of us reading have been through serious trauma, deep pain, and have lost more than we can imagine or maybe you know someone close to you in this kind of Agony. It isn’t something that you can give in haste or give in quantity there may be steps you need to take in which you can lay this down in it’s entirety, but it doesn’t mean that it’s impossible or not worth trying or something that should be done half heartedly because we know the Bible commands us, and because God has forgiven us of much more. It’s a journey you take one step at a time with Christ and one that may leave you repeating steps, or writing that letter to your aggressor or whom ever has hurt you everyday, or forgiving them moment to moment so your heart doesn’t abscess. It’s worth venturing because you will experience the freedom in Christ and the life abundantly that he promises in him when we dive in and follow him.
Calm seas have never shaped the greatest, but it’s worth travelling. So who do you need to forgive? And what is preventing you from forgiving them? What do you gain in Christ by forgiving them?
“Wildfire” performed by Blink-182, written by Mark Hoppus, Matt Skiba, Travis Barker, and John Feldman. Copyright 2017. All Rights owned by Blink-182.