If I was your enemy, your arch nemesis if you will, I’d look for every way possible to try to trip you up. I’d try to manipulate your perspective in order to get you to do things that are so wrong for you, you’d totally get in trouble with people you care about. I’d put things in your way that I know would be very bad for you, but that you’d be hard-pressed to resist. And I’d whisper words in your ear that would harden your heart against people so that there would be no chance at a loving way to resolve any issues between you.
I’d make you think everyone else had it better than you, and that you were getting a bum ride. If I was your enemy, I’d do all those things and more, in order to isolate you more and more from relationships that you care about, including your relationship with God. I’d get the biggest kick out of you ending up alone, upset, and wondering how in the world you ended up there.
I’d make sure you had a lot of trouble, countless temptations, and a heart that no longer knew what it means to forgive. I’d make sure you thought God wasn’t really on your side, and that He had, in fact, left you to sort out all these messes on your own.
On the other hand, if I was GOD, and you believed in me and trusted me, I’d use all those bad things your enemy was using against you for good. I’d reweave each situation and harsh circumstance to develop patience and endurance in you so much that you would have unfailing trust in me.
(Artwork and photo credit: the amazing Tammy Miller!)
I’d take your temptations and help you deal with them so your reliance on me was stronger than the temptation’s pull on your soul. And I’d soften your heart so you would learn the power and freedom of forgiveness.
Why am I telling you this? Because, “…the enemy of our souls wants us to be like anyone but Jesus. We are closest to and most like Jesus when we are fully being who he created us to be.” (Holley Gerth, You’re Already Amazing)
This process of becoming “like Jesus” is the third purpose offered up by Rick Warren in A Purpose Driven Life. And in becoming more like Christ, we have to allow God to USE trials, temptations, and trespasses as tools to help us become better disciples!
We are drawing close to Holy Week – a week that makes me go completely undone. A week in which we “watch” the demise of our beloved, see him completely humble himself, and in the midst of it all, reach out to our Father in heaven asking, even then, for God to forgive those who come against him.
Holy Week is the week in which the trespasses Jesus endures make us cringe and leave us incredulous at his mercy. Yet these are the very things to which he is calling us to pay attention.
Forgiveness was at the top of Jesus’s wish list for humanity, the crescendo of his Hallelujah chorus! Forgiveness was the message included in some of his very last words before he died on the cross, including forgiving the sins of the thief, hanging on the cross next to him. It was, it IS, of the utmost importance to him.
To ignore that message of mercy, for us to refuse to forgive or seek forgiveness from others, is basically a slap in the face to Jesus. It’s like living life as a Good Friday prosecutor over and over again instead of living as an Easter Sunday disciple filled with hope and joy. Instead of rejoicing at the rolled away stone, we just keep hurtling stones at one other. Sweet friends, we weren’t made for that.
Forgiveness, both receiving and giving it, requires humility and a huge amount of love. Without those two things, it would not be life-changing, which it IS designed to be. Because, through forgiveness, we can transform and become more like Christ.
Who do you need to forgive? Of whom do you need to seek forgiveness? Your spouse? Your child? Another family member? A neighbor? A co-worker? An old friend? An enemy? Yourself?
Let’s each pray on it and ask the Holy Spirit stir up in us a willingness to let God use whatever this forgiveness thing is doing inside to help us grow deeper in this purpose of becoming more like Jesus. With his help, we can do all things. I know we can!
(This fabulous quote is from Shawn Achor!)
Following along with us in our series, on purpose?! If so:
- Read Days 22-28 in A Purpose Drive Life. Answer at least one “Point to Ponder” question listed at the end of each day.
- Complete week 5 in our Inspiration Booklet!
- Listen to this danc-a-licious tune by Blanca, “Different Drum”. She’s like a Christian sister friend’s Beyoncé! 😉
Have a great weekend…and HAPPY ST. PATRICK’S DAY!!!! 😉
Peace, love, and JOY!
Up Next Week: Resting in truth