Last weekend I had the privilege of sharing during one of the sessions at Flourish Café Chocolat, a one-day women’s retreat at HighRidge Church. It was a great time and yes we had lots of chocolate. We also had fun making new “barefoot friends” and above all experiencing the sweet presence of the Lord.
My session was the last session of the day and the focus was on God’s unconditional love and forgiveness. Because of His love he died for us even though some of didn’t seem weren’t worth dying for. It’s one thing to die for a good person and not many would even be willing to do that but to die for someone who is for all practical purposes pretty bad is unheard of. Yet that’s just what Jesus did.
God doesn’t really ask much of us but one thing he does require is that we extend that same love and grace to others. He doesn’t ask us to die for them, thank goodness, just forgive them. It sounds easy doesn’t it? But not so fast, forgiving someone doesn’t always come easily and especially if you are a brand new Christian who thought it was perfectly justified to dislike or hate someone who had wronged you. That’s exactly where I found myself.
There was a man that I hated. I’ll call him Brutus, not his real name. Brutus had publicly humiliated me in front of a room full of people and it hurt and embarrassed me very deeply. I was very happy hating Brutus but then I got saved. I’ll never forget when God started dealing with my about forgiving him. I said to the Lord, no way and if this is a requirement we need to rewrite the rules because I cannot forgive him for what he did to me. Then the Lord gave me an assignment. He told me to start praying for Brutus everyday.
Are you kidding me Lord was my reaction. But God made it clear this was my assignment. So I told the Lord, OK I will pray for him but I won’t mean it. I figured if I had to do something as distasteful as pray for the old Brut I might as well do it while I did something else I didn’t like. So everyday while I did the dishes I would pray for Brutus. I prayed for God to bless him and his family, his business and all that pertained to him but then I always ended with the disclaimer that I didn’t really mean it.
Well this went on for awhile and I would rub those plates as hard as I could imagining they were Brutus’ face. But then…one day I was praying for him and I didn’t feel angry. I remember trying to be mad at him but I didn’t feel any hate or anger in my heart. So my prayer changed. I said you know Lord, go ahead and bless Btutus. Bless his family, his business….all that pertains to him. Bless him Lord.
And I meant it. Every word of it. The hate, the pain, the unforgiveness was gone. My heart felt clean inside and I was filled with peace. I had more than dishpan hands, I had a dishpan heart. Is there a Brutus in your life? Is there someone you need to forgive? Begin to bless them. Begin to pray for them.
You too can have a dishpan heart.
Create in me a clean heart, O God; and renew a right spirit within me. Psalm 51:10
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