|What does the rainbow mean to you?|
Today as a family we went shopping together. It is always fun when we do this. First when going to Target, we sit and enjoy our Icees and Coffee as a family at the Starbucks restaurant. We sit and talk to one another and laugh at ourselves and the funny things we do at times. We try to see the humor in many things, and share them with each other. One such moment was when I observed a license plate on a Wisconsin truck going by the restaurant window. The driver was searching for a parking spot and I noticed the plate on the back bumper which read, “GRRRRRR.” At first I found myself laughing and within seconds I switched my laughter to concern. I made a mental note, “Keep away from him when in my car!” I tapped Anne on her shoulder and pointed in the direction of the truck, she noticed it and started to laugh right away. I began to wonder if he wanted people to keep their distance from him, or was he just trying to be humorous? I went on with my thoughts and pondered it further for a few moments. How funny it seemed in the safety of the store to laugh at this, but I also thought how it just might be as scary to meet this truck on the road in heavy traffic with many stops and starts. Was he the type that intimidates people so that they keep their distance from him? Perhaps he was a person who is angry at the world and his vengeance within him can never be quenched by the goodness of others.
|I find sustenance in you Father!|
I came to realize at that moment, I was not going to let the bad disposition of another destroy the happiness of the moment for my family or myself. Anger is a poison that cannot be quenched when it is constantly fueled by hate and bitterness. When I encounter people like that in the past, I have found that it is hard at times to think nice thoughts about them. I am reminded in the Bible (Matt. 5:44) and listening to God when in prayer, that Jesus would not find fault in them, he would love them. I have told myself at times, “Well, that is what Jesus would do, but I am not Jesus.” During those moments, I have felt Jesus’ gentle hand on my shoulder with him telling me to love them in spite of who they are. I tell him, “I cannot love this person, he did this and this, and I don’t want to forgive him. Besides, if I forgive this person and get close to him, he will do it again like he has in the past.”
During those moments in prayer with God, Jesus helps me to realize that I am partly right, I can’t change this person from doing these things again, but God can change his heart. Jesus gently reminds me that it is not my responsibility to change him, mine is only to love him. I say to God, “But I can’t, this person is not lovable!” I walk further with Jesus and he gently reminds me that I cannot hold this person accountable, that is Jesus’ responsibility, not mine. Jesus then tells me, “I can change him through you, if you allow me to change your heart first.” I have to think on this for a while, Jesus is right; I can’t love this person without his help. I lift my sinking head, “Jesus, help me to love this person because I do not have anything in me that desires to do this.” I then feel the burden is lifted from shoulders.
Cory Ten Boom when unexpectantly meeting an ex-Nazi guard on a train shortly after the war, through his confession to her, she found out that this man was one of those responsible for her sister’s death. After his confession to Cory, he asked her to forgive him. He said that he was a Christian now and realized what he did was wrong. Cory at that moment could only feel murderous thoughts toward him. With all her might, she asked God to give her the ability to love and forgive this man, for she realized that she could not. At the moment she verbally said in obedience to God, “I forgive you!” God then changed her heart and love and forgiveness welled up within her at that moment.
|You are my light when I cannot find my way Lord.|
God asks us to love our enemies, but he does not leave us to do this alone, he will give us the strength to do so if we admit that we cannot on our own. Jesus will not demand of us to forgive others without first helping us to do so, if we ask him . As Christians, we are his ambassadors here on Earth, only we can show others of God’s grace and love. Just like Peter (Matt: 14:30) when getting out of the boat to be with Jesus on the raging water, God will not abandon us when our humanity wanes. Like Peter, all we have to do is call on his name.
I found this wonderful sermon when just now searching for references in the Bible to forgiving people who are difficult to love. It is very moving! Here is the URL:www.edcreate.com/wordpress/wp-content/.../transcript030208.pdf