Listen to this devotional:
Listen while you read: "I Love To Hear The Story"1 (Lyrics)
Psalm 88:9b – I call to you, O Lord, every day; I spread out my hands to you. (NIV)
It was a chilly Monday morning. After two days of anger at a particular situation in the media, I was on my way to work. I'd be useless at my job as a church secretary with all this mess in my heart. I needed to spend some time in the sanctuary praying before going into the office, but the Lord reminded me that we could talk right then. So, we did.
The day before, the Sunday sermon had urged the congregation to feel compassion for people. Even though I didn't feel any compassion for "John Smith", much less love and forgiveness, I had to start somewhere. Thankfully, our Lord can do a lot in a short time, and I felt Him urging me on.
As I drove, I began to speak the words, "I forgive you, John Smith," even though I didn't mean it. The conversation went something like this: "Lord, I am doing this because I love You, not John Smith. Eventually, I will forgive John Smith, so that it doesn't jeopardize my relationship with You, Jesus. And, at the least, I will try to feel compassion for John Smith." I concluded with "God, I know that this isn't much, but it's the best I can do right now." That was followed by many more of "I forgive you, John Smith", mostly through gritted teeth.
When I thought that the matter was concluded, Jesus wasn't finished with me. He said, "Now it's time to forgive yourself."
Jesus said, "Yes. You allowed it." He made me laugh when He said, "You know, coulda, woulda, shoulda." Then I saw a mental movie — I don't know what else to call it — of all the things that I could have done over the last two days to reverse the situation. I shoulda taken charge of my environment, and I woulda if I had thought of it instead of drowning in my anger, and I coulda done it at any point in time. But, I did not. The end result: deep, dark anger and bitterness toward one of God's children.
After fifteen minutes of talking with the Lord, filled with thoughts, emotions, and mental pictures, a calmness filled my mind and body. I arrived safely at work, my anger gone, John Smith forgiven, myself forgiven, and a note to self about what to do if/when carnal thoughts return.
Romans 8:8 – Those controlled by the sinful nature cannot please God. (NIV)
Prayer: Lord, we pray that You would make our hearts alive and awake when our sinful nature takes over. Help us to turn to You quickly and confess our sins of anger, unforgiveness, or whatever is boiling over, especially if the grievance is an old one, and especially if we are "right to feel that way and everybody says so". Lord, make our minds, bodies, and souls fit places for the Holy Spirit to dwell. Thank You! We love You, Lord. Amen.