Demetrius' face bears scars he has had since he was a toddler; scars he got when his mother laced his feeding with hydrochloric acid in order to cash in on a $25,000 life insurance policy.
She was locked up and Demetrius bounced from foster home to foster home until being taken in by his grandmother. He endured ridicule, rejection and loneliness and fueled it all into anger and violence. He ended up in prison. While in prison, his cellmate told him about Christ and taught him how to read and write using the Bible.
By divine intervention he attended a service in the cell being lead by a woman evangelist who was previously imprisoned. This woman told a story of redemption of a cellmate who had tried to poison her child, and upon encountering Jesus realised her sinful state and surrendered her life to Him.
He knew it was his mother she spoke of and on that day fully surrendered his life to God. Upon being released he went and found his mother who had also been released and the two reunited. He now shares this testimony of forgiveness and redemption with others.
Colossians chapter 3 verse 13 says: "Bear with each other and forgive whatever grievances you may have against one another. Forgive as the Lord forgave you."
Only the transforming power of the Holy Ghost can do that. I am a therapist and I know it would take more than mindful breathing, cognitive behavior mapping and object relations theories to get a person past such pain, to forgiveness and restoration.
I previously wrote about forgiveness and the triumph God provided me. Well obviously it was time to level up. God searched my heart, and made me see there were some wicked ways in it.
I was dumbfounded at the magnitude of the filth in my heart. I don't mean the - I scuffed my shoe and there is a little dust flying in the air kind of filth. I mean wallowing hog-level filth. There was anger, unforgiveness, envy and bitterness to name a few and I was shoveling and lathering on the mud of this disturbed state. This cesspool of filth poured from the rotting conduit of pride.
.....Do not grumble against one another....
I knew I was not there yet. My heart was hardened and cold. I stonewalled people when hurt - you stay over there and I stay over here. Self righteously, I would sometimes offer a cordial hello and respond with politeness but it didn't reach my heart. I would end friendships with the ease of a delete button. I would harp on and on about the ways I felt wronged and would ignore the gentle leadings of the Holy Spirit to respond in light of the gospel. God was over this tendency in me. He knew his command to me was to forgive. He knew I knew better and He went to work on me.
Forgiveness is freeing
I stood in my kitchen and relayed the story of Joseph to someone, describing fervently the proper disposition to have when faced with trying circumstances. I quickly glossed over each major disservice meted out to Joseph, lauding him for his humility and proper response to his brothers, and the Holy Spirit stopped me mid diatribe. I spoke of things I was failing to do. I failed to respond with forgiveness.
And then He slammed me with the real life example. Somehow it wasn't enough to read about it in the Bible and hear His convictions. The Lord made me face what was in my heart when the object of my ice-cold demeanor responded in kindness. I had no more excuses. I had nothing left to stand on. At this point it was all me. My filthy heart stood by the sacrifice on the cross and my need to repent was evident.
Unforgiveness is ugly and seeps into your actions with venom that forms a breeding ground for anger and bitterness. It's a trap that keeps you literally weighed down and in a fog. Forgiveness frees. By His grace I did and my goodness, it was freeing! I don't think I am eloquent enough to express what that feels like, but I encourage you to try it.
So what is in your heart? How are you responding to persons when you feel wronged? Look at how Christ operated and follow his example. Take it from a person on the other side, forgive.
Stacy-Ann Smith - is a child therapist. She is involved with youth and children's ministry and has a heart to work with young women teaching them the ways of the Lord. She serves as a board member of the Kingston and St. Andrew Foster Parent's Association
Stacy-Ann Smith's previous articles may be viewed at http://www.pressserviceinternational.org/stacy-ann-smith.html