Wednesday, November 12, 2008

Love Dare- Day 25!!

Yesterday's Followup: What did you identify as an area of lust? What has this pursuit cost you over time? How has it led you away from the person you want to be? Write about your new commitment to seek Him- and to seek your spouse- rather than seeking after foolish desires.

Love Forgives

What I have forgiven, if I have forgiven anything, I did it for your sakes in the presence of Christ. -2 Corinthians 2.10

This may be the toughest dare in the book. But if there is to be any hope for your marriage, this is a challenge that must absolutely be taken seriously. This is the most complex problem of all, a rupture that is often last to be repaired. It cannot simply be considered and/or contemplated. It must be deliberately put into practice. Forgiveness has to happen, or a successful marriage won't.

Jesus painted a vivid image of forgiveness in His parable of the ungrateful servant. A man who owed a sizable sum of money was surprised when his master heard his appeals for mercy and totally canceled his debt. But upon being released from this enormous load, the servant went to another man who owed him a much smaller amount and demanded immediate payment. When the master heard of this, "His lord moved with anger, handed him over to the torturers until he should repay all that was owed him" (Matthew 18.34)

When you think of unforgiveness, this is what your mind should come to, for Jesus said, "My heavenly Father will also do the same to you, if each of you does not forgive his brother from your heart" (Matthew 18.35)

Imagine yourself in a prison setting. Around you there are multiple cells filled with friends and family that have wounded/wronged you over the years. Friends, enemies, family, even a parent or two... locked up in cells. Now imagine Jesus standing not to far away, extending you a key that will release every inmate.

The prison, is a room in your heart. A chamber that exists in you everyday.

But you don't want any part of releasing them. These people have hurt you too badly. They knew what they were doing and yet they did it anyway- even your spouse, the one you should have been able to count on most of all. So you resist- you turn away. You're unwilling to stay here any longer- seeing Jesus, seeing the key in His hand, knowing what He's asking you to do. It's just too much.

But in trying to escape, you make a startling discovery. There is no way out. You're trapped inside with all the other captives. Your unforgiveness, anger, and bitterness have made a prisoner of you as well. Like the servant in Jesus' story, who was forgiven and impossible debt, you have chosen not to forgive and have been handed over to the jailers and torturers. Your freedom is now dependent on your forgiveness.

Coming to this conclusion usually takes a while. We see all kinds of dangers and risks involved in forgiving others. For instance, what they did was really wrong, whether they admit it or not. They may not even be sorry about it. They may feel perfectly justified in their actions, even going so far as to blame you for it. But forgiveness doesn't absolve anyone of blame. It doesn't clear their record with God. It just clears you of having to worry about how to punish them. When you forgive another person, you're not turning them loose. You're turning them over toe God, who can be counter on to deal with them His way. You're saving yourself the trouble of scripting any more arguments or trying to prevail in this situation. It's not about winning and losing anymore. It's about freedom. It's about letting go.

That's why you often hear people who have genuinely forgiven say, "It's like a weight being lifted off my shoulders." That's exactly what it is. For the first time in a long time, you feel at peace. You feel free.

But how do you do it? You release your anger and the responsibility for judging this person to the Lord. "Never take your own revenge but leave room for the wrath of God, for it is written, "Vengeance is Mine, I will repay" says the Lord" Romans 12.9

How do you know you've done it. You know when the thought of their name or the sight of their face- rather than causing your blood to boil- causes you to feel sorry for them instead- to genuinely hope they get this turned around.

Great marriages are not created by people who never hurt each other, only by people who choose to keep,"no record of wrongs"(I Corinthians 13.5)

Today's Dare

Whatever you haven't forgiven in your mate, forgive it today. Let it go. Just as we ask Jesus to "forgive us our debts" each day, we must ask Him to help us "forgive our debtors". Unforgiveness has been keeping you and your spouse in prison too long. Say from your heart, "I choose to forgive."


The Patterson 5 said...

Great marriages are not created by people who never hurt each other, only by people who choose to keep,"no record of wrongs"(I Corinthians 13.5)

I really need to pray about this and I think I will post this over on my mirror and by the sink. I say I forgive but then in the heat of a arguement I bring up past transgressions.

My husband on the other hand never brings up things that occurred in the past. He literally forgets.....and not just with me. His dad was feeling some guilt over the time he did not spend with his boys while they were children. (My husbands mother was really sick during his childhood and I imagine things were pretty stressful.) My husband does not remember any thing negative from that time. He only remembers the good times and good things. He does not dwell on when someone hurts him. He forgives and forgets immediately even if they never even ask. AMAZING.

The lust stuff (yikes it's steamy over here!) we gaurd against it. Why go near temptation? We are careful about what we watch on TV and the magazines we read and web sites we surf! We are also careful with how we behave at work - I stay away from flirty doctors and Mr P is careful with his relationships at work.

I did not really think about lust for other things. Things that you are filling your life with instead of God. Nothing or person can fill the God shaped whole in our hearts. May I continue to seek after God FIRST- taking time to study His Word every day then all other relationships and areas of my life will be in proper order. May God show me areas in my heart where I have not truly forgiven Mr P so I can forgive and may I forget so I can be free. May I forgive as God has forgiven me. May I also seek God with all my heart, soul, mind and strenth and love my husband as myself!

The Patterson 5 said...

Hey I am blogging tonight about a forgiveness issue that happened today- not actually in my marriage but a family in law relationship. It seems your post was just what I needed to hear today. God is working through your blog!

After His Heart said...

Hey girl, I found your blog on my son's blog, who is now way out in South Dakota. We saw the movie, it was awesome. I've been trying to get my hands on the book. I think it's going to be a Christmas Present for many on my list. It is awesome to "hear" what God is doing in your life. Just wanted to say "Hi" and love ya'!!

Chelle' said...

My friend Stacy and I talk often about the negative side of shows such as Greys Anatomy and or ER...

We discuss the fact that people within Christian circles tend to discuss shows like this as terrible because they promote things such as lust and the sort. We have a bit of a different perspective.

It's not so much that we(and by we I'm generalizing all who watch) lust after show stars like Patrick Dempsy- it's more that we long for the romantic, loving, thoughtful, IMPOSSIBLE relationship Dempsy represents.

I've said all along that I like the relationships in shows like Greys much more than the medical story lines. I like the Mer-Der (boyfriend/girlfriend), Grey-Yang (best friend) Big Grey-Little Grey (sisters) relationsihps...

BUT when liking the relational story lines interferes with how I think my relationships SHOULD be... when I compare my husband's actions (or reactions) to that of Dempsy... or expect my best friend to function as Meredith would... I have found myself caught up in lust.

And so- I am praying against and choosing against lust today. I am choosing fact over fiction... reality over falsehood... life over TV.