Today's birthday post comes from a very special friend. I was Stephanie's youth group leader when she was in High School. I have been a witness to the wonderful and faithful work of God in her life. Today Stephanie has bloomed into a beautiful lily among thorns. When I first asked her to pray about writing a guest post, she gently said no. However, the Lord had other plans. Below you will read what the Lord has spoken through her for you today.
God bless you!
Choosing to Forgive Even When We don’t ‘Feel’ Like It
Often times we are challenged to go beyond our “comfort zone” and do something out of the ordinary. Francis Chan could not have said it better: “We sometimes care about our comfort far more than we care about our character, but that's not God's desire.”
Sometimes we are faced with a challenge that we necessarily do not want to do. You see, I was challenged to do something in my life that I necessarily did not want to do. What’s the reason you may ask? Well, I could sit here for hours and give you excuses, but frankly, it was because I didn’t “feel” like it. I CHOSE not to do it.
One may hear all the time, “Life is FULL of choices” and if you really think about it, it’s true! You can choose to wake up in the morning expecting to have a wonderful day. You can choose to not get upset. You can choose to live a life worthy and surrendered to God. You can choose to set a good example at work, school, life, etc. You can choose to forgive those who have wronged you. You can choose to take charge of your own actions despite the way another may act. It’s all a choice, whether or not you “feel” like doing it. Why haven’t you done your homework? Because I don’t “feel” like it. Why haven’t you done your devo’s? Because I didn’t “feel” like it.
Choosing to base my decision upon all these “feelings” would be foolish. God’s word clearly tells us that the heart is deceitful and desperately wicked (Jeremiah 17:9). I would only be deceiving myself if I chose to listen to those “feelings.”
My friend asked me, “Do you think Jesus ‘felt’ like dying on the cross for us? Go ahead. Think about it.” He also shared that Jesus prayed 3 times asking God if there was any other way. Not one. Not two, but THREE times! Feel free to read the story. It’s in Matthew 26:36-46. Jesus knew that dying on the cross for our sins needed to be done. He loves us that much that He was willing to give it ALL just to be with us and offer that beautiful yet costly gift.
If we have chosen to give our “all” to God, yet we have chosen not to forgive another, have we truly given our “all” to Him? Forgiveness is definitely not an easy thing to do. If you are dealing with some type of hate or anger, let me ask you the following, “How does that hate/anger make you feel?” I bet it feels pretty bad. Note that hate is very hungry and has very sharp teeth. It can literally eat up your whole heart and leave no room left for love. Do not let your heart become a battlefield between love and hate.
Mediate upon the following two quotes:
• "Don't let your heart become angry toward people. God has not called us to yell at the darkness. God has called us to shine in the darkness." ü Brady BoydAt this time very moment you may be convinced with what I am sharing, but NOT necessarily converted and that’s fine because it is not my job. I’m not here to play the Holy Spirit. I’m here to share all that God has shown me and I pray that the Holy Spirit may give you the strength to do what He has called you to do and not just be filled with this knowledge and information God has shared through me. Stay strong in Him. Though roadblocks may alter your journey, remain steadfast in your Jesus journey and eventually, you will reach your destination. May we train ourselves to be still and hear the voice of God instead of our “feelings.”
• Painful things that should be changed CAN be changed; from ending global poverty to healing a marriage. Willing to change is the difficult part. -Bianca Juarez
Now that God has given me all these insights into the things I was struggling with, I now have decided to take upon that challenge despite my feelings. An appropriate response is not a feeling, an appropriate response demands action. For me, in this season of my life, I have chosen to forgive. I love what Francis Chan said, “God is more concerned about changing YOU than changing your circumstance.”
I would like to close with the following statement I heard in a movie called “Amish Grace.” If you have not seen this film, I totally recommend it.
• “Faith when everything is as you want it to be is not true faith. It’s only when our lives are falling apart that we have our chance to make our faith real.”