Monday, June 21, 2010

To Forgive Is Divine

Have you ever had one of those moments in life when God just pins you down like a scrawny wrestler on a mat with with a heavyweight and so clearly drills something into your mind that it seems like He's shouting it from the heavens directly at you? I have those moments fairly often, but that could be because I'm so stubborn that I need a little more intervention than most of His children. God, being the ever-so-pateint gentleman that He is gives me plenty of chances to catch His drift before He has to resort to such measures, but for reasons I cannot fathom, I tend to ignore His still small voice and gentle nudge until He has to bombard me with a visual picture.

It's kind of like when David committed adultery with Bathsheba and had her husband killed in order to cover his indescretion. David was swimming in his own sin and was so blinded by it that he couldn't even see how wrong he was. So the Lord sent Nathan to David to paint a picture for him so clear that David would recognize his sin and become angered by it. Nathan told David a fictional story about a rich, powerful man who had everything stealing one poor man's single little lamb. David became angry at that fictional man's sin and said that man deserved to die. Then Nathan gave him the clincher: "You ARE that man!" That was a clever way for the Lord to show David the reality of his own sin. He knew that while David was having a hard time recognizing his own sin, he would easily recognize the same sin in someone else. Why do we do that? Why is it so easy to ignore and justify our own sin, yet become so angry when someone else commits the exact same sin?

Every now and then, the Lord sends a "Nathan" into my life to show me my flaws when I have a hard time seeing them in myself. And it happened to me this week. My husband had done something to make me angry (I know - it's shocking that my human, broken, sinful husband would do something to offend me... but he did). I became particularly mad a this offense because he did something that he has done many times before, and he knows very well how much it offends me. I've begged him for years not to do what he did, and while the sin has become less frequent, he still does it from time to time. Shortly after he committed this offense last week, he was convicted by the Holy Spirit, felt guilty, and confessed it to me. While I appreciated the confession and saw that as a mark of maturity, I was still so mad at what he did. I didn't want to let him off the hook so easily. I couldn't believe he would still do what he did after all these years of my begging him not to, and I just couldn't seem to forgive. He kept apologizing and asking for my forgiveness, but I wasn't willing to extend it. He kept apologizing, and I kept being mad. I shamefully admit that this went on for a couple days. I felt the prompting of the Lord to forgive him several times. I was reminded of what Scripture says about forgiveness and my own sinful state, and I was reminded of my love for him and the wonderful husband he is... but I just wouldn't let it go.

Finally, a couple days later, I was driving down the street alone. I was a little distracted (and in a bad mood because of the turmoil in my home) and not paying much attention to the cars around me. I started to get over into another lane, and I hastily made the move without really looking to see if there were any cars next to me. Now in my defense, the lane I was getting into had just begun so there shouldn't have been anyone in the lane, but a tiny little car sped into the lane from behind me and happened to be right beside me when I started to merge into his territory. I swerved into his lane and almost hit him when I saw his little car inches away from my larger SUV. I narrowly missed him, swerved back into my original lane, and then properly merged in behind him. Even though he probably got over quicker than he should have and was speeding, it was my responsibility to look for him before I got into his lane and I almost hit him. It was my irresponsibility, and I was sorry for almost causing an accident. I waved to him and mouthed the word "sorry" so he would know I was sorry. He threw his hands in the air and yelled at me with a disgusted look on his face. I rolled my window down to let him know that I was truly sorry for my mistake - maybe he couldn't see that I was sorry. This time I said, "I'm SO sorry," and he again made rude gestures and yelled obscenities at me. That made me furious. There I was trying so hard to apologize, and he wouldn't accept it. Then I spoke these words aloud, "What a miserable little man - HE WON'T EVEN LET ME BE SORRY!"

That's when my very own words pierced my soul like a lightning bolt from heaven. I was that man! Oh how ashamed I felt when I realized that he was my Nathan and I was David. I was so disgusted that this man (a stranger) wouldn't accept my genuine apology while I had not accepted my own husband's for 2 days. God used that simple situation in my day to show me my hypocrisy - and it worked. I did forgive my husband. And I'm ashamed that it took that kind of knock over the head to get it. When will I ever start heading the still small voice of the Spirit that says, "Do this?" Oh how I long for the day when I will have the maturity and the wisdom to both recognize my wrongs AND correct them, without the Lord having to send me a Nathan to spell it out in a real-life, kindergarten-level scenario. But oh how thankful I am that He loves me so much and so wants me to grow up into Him that He takes the time to teach me on my level. Our God is an incredible Father. And I am thankful for the way He parents me. But most of all, I'm thankful for His undying, unending, never-failing love for me that transcends my stubborn heart and covers for my many weaknesses. Now if only I could learn to love like that.

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