Many years ago I attended a Christian Writers’ conference that was physically and intellectually demanding. I was looking forward to the conference’s Palm Sunday worship service as a time of refreshment and preparation for Easter. I walked down the path toward the chapel and I found a friend sitting near the front. As I sat down next to her, I sighed deeply. The service began with singing and instrumental music. A young woman sang “The Old Rugged Cross” and another woman accompanied her with sign language. As I listened to the song, I could see a dark wooden cross in my imagination. Jesus was on that cross. He asked me a question, not audibly, but inside my mind. He asked me why I continually brought my burdens to the cross and never left them there. I did not have an answer for Him.
I saw in my mind a large flat wagon behind me as I stood at the foot of the cross. It was filled with the people who had sinned against me and the people whom I had sinned against. These were people that I had chosen not to forgive. The people in the wagon were symbols of the pain and wounds of my past. The offenses against me had become burdens that were weighing me down. As long as I would not forgive, my past followed me everywhere I went in my mind and my heart.
I did not know why I would leave my unforgiveness and burdens at the foot of the cross and pick them up again. I realized that the Lord wanted to free me from my unforgiveness and sins. I asked Him to help me.
He asked me to leave my burdens of unforgiveness and sins at the foot of the cross and move away from them. From my new perspective of the cross in my imagination I saw a deep narrow trench encircle the cross. God was marking the cross with His boundary. He put that boundary there so that I would not continue to pickup my burdens of unforgiveness and sin and drag them with me. I felt the Lord was saying to me that He wanted me to let go of the past so that I could live in the present and look forward to the future.
I was weary from the weight of my sins of unforgiveness, bitterness and resentment that were rooted in my past. My pain had served its purpose because it had brought me to the cross to receive forgiveness, cleansing, and healing.
Inside my imagination I knelt outside the boundary at the cross and asked the Lord to forgive my sins and my unforgiveness toward all of the people that He had brought to my mind. I released each one to His love and care and asked Him to bless them. I thanked Him for the boundary at the cross. By faith I released my past to Him.
I resist the urge to pick up any of my old burdens. I entrust my past with all of its pain to God. He is my burden bearer and my healer. Now I can joyfully live in the present and look forward to the future.
Because God’s knowledge of you is all encompassing, He is able to meet your needs. He can meet your needs for unconditional love, acceptance, worth, value, recognition, security, comfort, nurture and emotional nourishment. He knows and understands each struggle and victory in your life.
Nothing is hidden from Him. He is with you in this moment. Everything that you encounter in your life is used by God to prepare you for your future. The challenges that you have and the life skills that you learn today are preparation for tomorrow.
God wants to use everything that you go through including your joys and sorrows. Every painful experience and every difficult day can be redeemed when it is filtered through your relationship to God. He is the ultimate recycler of your life. He will use everything that you go through if you let Him. Each situation that you encounter has a purpose from God’s perspective. He has many lessons to teach you. God Himself chooses these lessons on a uniquely individual basis. Life is meant to be full of learning experiences that you share with others for your benefit and theirs.
I have wondered many times in my life why the Lord allowed someone or a group of people to hurt me, members of my family or friends. I have decided that one reason is that He wants me to pray for the person or persons who inflicted the pain.
You can respond to any offense against you through prayer. I believe that the prayer of forgiveness can change your personal world as well as the world around you. You can share the life-changing release of forgiveness with everyone, whether they know that you are praying for them or not. Prayer is a powerful tool for change at any time.
You can pray for yourself or anyone else at any time. When you enter into prayer, God uses you and your faith in Him to bring about change .You become an agent of change and an ambassador for the Lord everywhere you go. He wants to bring you out of a regular day on this earth into a God-centered and God-focused life. This kind of life brings you love, joy, peace, and rest.
The struggles that you are facing prepare you for the lessons that you need to learn in order to live the unique life that has been designed just for you by the creator of the universe, your father God. You are precious to Him.
The steps of forgiveness can set you free from the binding power of unforgiveness by opening the door to the prison of unforgiveness as you forgive. When you walk in forgiveness, you are set free to leave the past behind you by faith. As you make the choice to quit dragging your past behind you, you can embrace each day of your life because you are free to live in the present and look forward to the future.
This book is an investment in your life and future. If you have received the grace of forgiveness from Jesus, He wants you to share that forgiveness with others. When you release someone from your unforgiveness, you have a chance to change your life and their life by forgiving them. If you forgive five people and each one of those five people forgives five people, you could be part of a revolution that releases others into the freedom of forgiveness. The forgiveness that you give to other people increases as they forgive.
Forgiveness frees you from the past and the burdens of the past. God has made provision for you to release all of your burdens to Him. Forgiveness brings healing to your life and the lives of others.
I encourage you to become an ambassador of forgiveness. The land of forgiveness has many benefits and blessings. There are two requirements to becoming a forgiveness ambassador. Learn everything that you can about forgiveness and practice forgiveness daily. Accept the challenge to set yourself and others free as you make space for grace in your heart through forgiveness.
In the Roots of Unforgiveness chapter in Forgiveness: Making Space for Grace, I have written about the righteous root in my family, my grandmother Grace. She reflected Christ’s character; she was joyful in her faith and she was a grateful person. She had a loving heart and she prayed for her family and friends. She also had a servant’s heart and enjoyed helping people in need. She saw something in me that I did not see in myself. Through her love and acceptance of me, she showed me that I had gifts and abilities that I did not recognize.
God sees many gifts in each one of us. Often these are gifts and talents that we don’t see in ourselves. If we will listen and observe carefully, God will show us who we are as He sees us. He is very familiar with our aptitudes and characteristics. He can reveal who we are in the most unexpected ways.
Think about your childhood and remember what you liked to do that was easy or fun for you. Did you enjoy drawing, painting or writing? Have you ever written the words to a song or the music for a song? Did you enjoy playing a musical instrument or singing? Is there a sport that you really enjoyed participating in? Any of the above questions can be used to discover some gifts or aptitudes that God has given you.
When you begin to think about what God sees in you, keep several things in mind. His deep love for you is not limited by any conditions. He values and esteems you just as you are. You do not have to perform for Him. God values your potential and the abilities that He has given to you. Recognize and acknowledge your strengths and weaknesses so that He can use them in your life.
To discover the qualities that God sees in you, ask Him to show them to you. Trust Him completely so that you can be your true self with Him. He will bring out the best in you.
Both fear and pride have roots that come from the spiritual power of sin. They can put your focus entirely on yourself. The purpose of fear is to turn you away from God’s love and protection. Fear can be called a root sin because it spreads its roots and joins to other root sins like pride.
Pride is also a sin. The spiritual power of pride can influence a person to worship himself or herself and turn away from God. They fear that their needs will not be met by God or anyone else so they try to meet their own needs.
Pride and fear can grow into an extensive root system within a person’s heart. They can lead to idolatry and are both powerful spiritual forces that can lead to separation from God. They can also prevent you from putting your faith and trust in God, His direction and His power.
When you recognize pride or fear in your life, confess them as sins. Ask God to deprive them of life. (Colossians 2:13-14) Repent of pride and fear and fall out of agreement with them. Ask God to give you a heart of faith and humility. Receive your new heart by putting your faith in God and His power. Thank Him for His faithfulness.
A listener wrote to me after hearing several of my interviews.
She wrote, “Nan, I listened to your interview on the Debbie Chavez Show and I enjoyed it so much that I listened to your interview on the Woman to Woman Show! Both interviews were so engaging that I lost track of time. After much reflection, I realized I had more work to do regarding the forgiveness of others and myself.
When you spoke about separating the offender from the offense and forgiving the person but not having to forgive what the person did to you, that was the missing tool for me. During your conversation with William, the gentleman who called during your Woman to Woman interview, I learned I hadn’t asked God to remove any unforgiveness from my heart and that I needed to release those feelings to Him.
I have started reading your book and it’s as if you are reading it to me! Thank you for sharing the power of forgiveness!”
The Peace and Freedom of Forgiveness
After beginning the process of forgiving, the listener mentioned that she felt weightless and it was a good feeling.
I understand that feeling because I have experienced it too. When the burden of sin is lifted, there is a release in your spirit and a light feeling in your heart.
The listener said that she had been dragging her past with her for far too long. As long as you hold on to your own past offenses and the offenses of others, you are bound to the past and you take it with you wherever you go. It affects your spirit, soul, and body.
When you confess your sins and turn from them, you can leave the past behind you. The past is a heavy burden to drag around in your mind and heart. When you release your past to God, you can receive the freedom and peace that He offers you.
The writers of the Old Testament mention a land to be possessed countless times. They write about enemies in the land, people in the land, possessions in the land, sin in the land and life in the land. The land that is written about is a physical land that can be seen with your eyes but it is also a land which must be secured by spiritual means. In the spiritual sense “the land” is really a metaphor for your life, which must be rescued from the sinful enemies that reside there. The enemies that reside in your life are often enemies of forgiveness. They are sins. Some of these sins are unforgiveness, passivity, bitterness, resentment, anger, rebellion, doubt, unbelief, hatred, rage, hostility, and lawlessness.
The way to drive your enemies out of the land of your life is through confession of your sins and repentance. As you name, confess, repent, and renounce your sins, you can take back the ground of your life that you have yielded to your enemies. God is committed to driving your enemies out slowly. Exodus 23:29-30 ” I will not drive them out before you in a single year…I will drive them out before you little by little, until you become fruitful and take possession of the land.” AMP
Claim each section of your land and life for God. Resist passivity in your heart and your mind. Stand and walk in diligence and steadfastness to possess the land of your life for the first time or to re-occupy your life.