My son looked up at me with those October sky blue eyes of his and said, “Momma, a kid in my class called me a name and hurt my feelin’s.” My church-mommy reflex reply was, “Well, you need to forgive him because Jesus wants us to.” He shot back, “Yeah, I know. Four hundred ninety times because that’s 70 times 7.” That quick mathematical genius answer made me wonder if he really got the concept of forgiving each time someone hurts us. Having no energy to launch into full Sunday school flannel board mode, I decided to let it go for the time being.
Before my head hit the pillow that night though, I had a VHS playing in my mind…and rewinding in an off-rhythm bump and screech…and playing…and rewinding again. The feature film was of a recent incident in which I felt misunderstood and shunned by a good friend of mine. The one scene I was wearing out on the tape was painful to watch, yet I couldn’t resist going back over it again and again and again. Naturally, the longer I did this, the warmer my face got. My heart beat just a bit more quickly. I let out a sigh while shaking my head. I had worked myself into an unpleasant case of “plain ol’ mad”.
Yes, I know some readers may be saying to me at this point, “I hope you put on your Godly Girl cape and snapped out of it, Angie. I hope you remembered what you had just said to your kid.” Believe me. I wanted to. I began going through forgiveness scriptures in my mind…”Blessed are the merciful for they shall receive mercy…If you do not forgive men their sins, your Father will not forgive your sins…Forgive your brother from your heart.” Finally, I cried out,
“HELP! I want to forgive them, God. Seriously. I know I keep thinking about it, but now I can’t stop. I need your grace...BAD!”
Then a very low, velvet voice deep down in my heart spoke clearly, “I live inside you. You can forgive them by Me.”
The next thing I knew, great big tears are sliding down my face. He gave me hope. I had absolute certainty that He would give me the grace I needed to do what I wanted desperately to do for Him, my friend, and myself. There was no magical glimmer surrounding me and a whoosh, “I feel great!” Still, it was as if a strong hand had slipped into mine and squeezed it lovingly. I wept at His tenderness toward me. He did not rebuke me for not pulling myself up by the proverbial bootstraps and just will myself into a state of forgiveness toward the one that cut my heart. He reassured me where my strength resides…inside me in the Person of the Holy Spirit of Christ.
He will help me forgive each and every time. I don’t know how He does it, but I believe He’s telling me the truth when He says He will. Even beyond the 490 quota.
I figured I might be on #357 now. I'm realizing how true it is that apart from Him, I can do nothing, including forgiving someone. But, through Christ I can do all things, including forgiving someone. Playing that song in my heart over and over, instead of the black tape of hurt and rejection, stirs up joy in my soul. It will in yours too.
That, my friend, is worth shouting from the rooftops!