In the last 10 years of my journey I have had to live with Radical Obedience. To me this meant, Radical forgiveness. Last night as I was catching up on Facebook, I came across a post that stated, " I believe all Child Molesters deserve the death penalty." As I read those words, it took me back to the moment where GOD asked me to forgive my step-grandfather for all he had done to me. For those of you new to my reading my blog, I was molested by him from the time that I was 4 until I turned 15. It would be 11 years later that GOD would allow me to relive all of those years through intense therapy sessions with an amazing Christian Therapist.
Three months after I completed therapy GOD asked me to forgive him. I can't begin to describe the hurt and anger that I felt that HE was asking this much of me. I was astonished that HE could ask so BIG of me, however HE made a promise to me that was something I could NOT turn down, and HIS promise was, "Heather if you forgive him, I promise to take away all of your pain. If you forgive him, I will make sure that your nightmares cease. If you forgive him, I make you flashback free. If you forgive him, I will give you peace with that part of your past.
With those promises I did the only thing I knew I could do, I trusted HIM and I forgave my step-grandfather for all he had done to me. Almost instantly I was pain, nightmare, and flashback free. I could talk about what happened to me without sobbing and trembling. In choosing to live out Radical Obedience, I was able to forgive in a way I never knew would be possible. In choosing to live out Radical Forgiveness I saw things and people in a new light.
However, I have learned that with Radical Obedience, and Forgiveness, the tests and trials keep coming. I am learning that each day GOD is stretching my faith, and refining and renewing my heart to be more like JESUS every single day. As the years went on from that moment of Radical Forgiveness, the level of forgiveness became even more frequent.
There was a time in D and my journey where we were wronged by people we had entrusted in our inner circle. In short, we were betrayed, and our words were used against us. We were shunned by people who'm we called "family." Up until that time the worst pain I had felt was holding onto the unforgiveness, and grudge in my heart for justice when it came to my step-grandfather. So when our "friends betrayed us, " it was beyond anything I could imagine. The pain was real, raw, and damaging. However, with that being said, it was forgivable. In having lived through that, I have learned that nothing is impossible in CHRIST. HE can, will, and does make all things possible. Now being on the other side of that pain for almost four years, I can tell you I don't even have an ounce of pain in my heart. I have gone on to entrust new people in my inner circle, and GOD has grown my faith in HIM by leaps and bounds.
Yesterday while at Willow Creek, Senior Pastor Bill Hybels spoke about this very subject. He said that Radical Forgiveness is about giving up your right to revenge. He went on to say that, "You can tell a lot about a person's heart just by the way they pray when they have been wronged." As those words began to sink deep into my heart, I thought about all the times where I was called to forgive, and instead I felt sorry for myself, and refused to let go of anything.
I found myself thinking back to all of the times I said, "YES" to myself, and "NO" to GOD. Those were times where I found myself astonished that HE would ask me to forgive another person. After all, hadn't I forgiven enough already? I found myself saying, "haven't I proven enough that I know how to forgive?" Thankfully, GOD loves me enough, and cares for me enough to NOT let me stay in that mindset. NO, HE captured my heart once again, and stretched and strengthened my faith even more in HIM.
Yesterday Radical Obedience was the topic, even without Pastor Hybels saying it. As I sat there I found myself, praising GOD for HIS themed teachings in my life. I thanked HIM for seeking me so intently, and audaciously. In a way, I felt special like this was all just for me. The more the guest speakers spoke of their stories, the more in awe, and in love I was with my SAVIOR.
The two guest speakers were Israeli, and Palestinian. A mother who lost her son, and father who lost his daughter. Brought together through their grief. Two people who should be sworn enemies, now with a bond that has been woven so tightly with JESUS at the center. Their stories of Radical Forgiveness took my breath away. As I sat there listening to their stories, I found myself so grateful that I truly understood how they were able to live out Radical Forgiveness, by living out Radical Obedience.
Yesterday's message was this, praying like JESUS prayed, and 3 categories of being wronged. I could identify with all three. The first category was minor wronged, petty wronged, one where one might say, "Really (sarcastically) that's really the worst thing that's really happened to you? The second category was betrayal. Where one could say, "I'm so sorry that happened to you, that was wrong." You could also say, "This is something that's going to be difficult to navigate, and I will be praying for you. Then there is the third category, and this for me is something that I pray not everyone ever has to go through. This is where the injustice is overwhelming. The life changing moments, that take our breath away. The pain, and tears, and heartache that fill our hearts. To this person one might say, "I am so incredibly sorry, I am praying for you." I believe that these are the moments where most of us become speechless.
As Pastor Hybels spoke about all three categories, he referenced JESUS' prayer in Luke 23:34 when HE was being brutally tortured, and crucified, as HE was hanging on the cross, HE said allowed to HIS FATHER in Heaven, "Forgive them Father, for they know not what they do." Even in HIS pain and anguish, of which I can't imagine.... and truthfully makes me cry every time I think about it, JESUS prayed for those HE was being wronged by. Powerful.... just powerful.....
My heart is overflowing with emotions as I type, so I will leave you all with this. If you haven't already accepted JESUS into your heart, all you have to do is ask, and HE will meet you right where you are. If you don't already know JESUS, I pray that you will be filled with the courage and the peace that you need to seek and find your SAVIOR, the one who knows and loves you best. I pray today that my life will be a living testament to you all to know the power of HIS love, HIS grace, HIS mercy, and HIS forgiveness. I pray today that you too will live out Radical Obedience.