I met a young man named Jeremy this week. He expressed that he was deeply troubled about forgiving the man who murdered his uncle long ago. After serving a twelve-year sentence, the man convicted would be freed in the next several months. Jeremy was uneasy about the man’s upcoming release.
Jeremy looked up to his uncle and the fine Christian man he became. However, something must have happened to his uncle’s Christian resolve. Slowly, alcohol crept in and took over until his uncle ended up in the “gutter of life.” It was there that the gunman took the uncle’s life. Jeremy was heart broken over the way his uncle’s life had ended. I perceived Jeremy was not only mad at the shooter but also his uncle as well. He didn’t understand how this could have happened to a man once so dedicated to the Lord.
I explained to Jeremy that the enemy is very subtle as he works to deceive God’s children. He gradually convinces us that we have become worthless to God, and we will not be able to rise up out of our pit of regrets anymore. Self-condemnation and shame becomes the stronghold that keeps us bound inside. Finally, the enemy wants to secure our death so that we will never be a threat to his kingdom again. (John 10:10)
Later, the Lord showed me a picture of a chain around Jeremey’s neck.
First, I recognized the chain as a choker like one used on a dog to insure obedience. If Jeremy’s present state of mind continued, the enemy would father tighten his control and eventually choke the life of God out of him leaving him bitter and defeated.
Why did God allow this to happen? I have the right to be angry. Look what that guy did to my family. I am still having nightmares. My uncle was a good man. I don’t think I have the strength to forgive him after what he has done.
In other words, I sensed Jeremy was not sure he was ready to give up the battle he had maintained all these years.
Likewise, a second picture appeared. I recognized the chain as a beautiful necklace that all could see and appreciate. I sensed that God wanted to initiate a personal promise to Jeremy. If he would show grace and mercy by learning to forgive this murderer, then God would bless Jeremy abundantly with the peace, the joy, and freedom He knew Jeremy needed.
Then, when Jeremy was ready, God also desired to help him use his uncle’s death to become a living testimony of God’s love and forgiveness. In this way, Jeremy could honor his uncle’s memory instead of allowing the past to destroy his life.
Don’t let the power of the past dominate
your present and determine your future.
What about you? Is there a crisis in your life that requires forgiveness to gain freedom? Are you going to be someone who will keeps a bitter vendetta alive or someone who will rise and became a living testimony of what God’s forgiveness can do?
What will YOU choose?