Today a friend of mine called and near the end of our chat, she mentioned a phone call that she had from another friend. "Ooooh, I know where this is going," I thought, as I carried a load of laundry upstairs. Admit it - you work while you're on the phone too! I prayed really quickly, "Lord Jesus, please help me to keep my mouth shut." Sure enough, she began to tell me all about her friend's report. Hurtful words. Destructive. It was juicy and I was so tempted to get involved. I wanted to know more details. I wanted to ask more questions and really find out what so-and-so did. But, I didn't want to spoil my three-week "sobriety" from gossip. Maybe it was a good thing I was doing laundry. I put my energy into stuffing clothes into hampers and shoving them into the washer. With the Lord's help I was able to put a different slant on my friend's perception. I told her positive things about the situation and I bragged on some of the people she mentioned, pointing out how they were doing such a good job, rather than gossiping about them and tearing them down. At the end of the phone call my friend thanked me for enlightening her. "I am so encouraged! Thank you," she said. I'm thankful I came away from that phone call unscathed. It was a close call! I knew if I dipped into the wine of complaining and negative talk that I might never break free again.
This all started when I began to study the book of Matthew, and when I came to Chapter 7, the Lord opened my eyes as if I'd been blind. He opened my mind to understand what I've always known - that my heart is dark and full of sin, and I am just as much in need of a Saviour as other people. There are some people that I have struggled with. It's true that they have hurt me several times. Deliberately. Publicly. I always said that it was just water off my back, but all along I've expected them to change. To grow up. To become nicer! But the Lord showed me that I needed to let go of the things they had done. I confessed to the Lord that it wasn't fair how they have been so favoured and I've had to bear the brunt of their malice. Then he showed me that I am sinful too. So sinful and yet God extends complete grace and forgiveness to me through Jesus. He has covered me with the cloak of Jesus' own righteousness because I have none of my own (Isaiah 61:10). When I took my eyes of what "those people" had done and how they needed to change, and instead put my eyes on my own deep need, I realized that I was the one with the log in my eye and I needed to deal with that. Whether they have a log or a speck becomes insignificant when I focus on my own need of my Saviour Jesus.
For the first time in several years I was able to let go. I feel a little lighter, like I'm peeling off a heavy coat on a warm day. Some days I still think I need that stinky, moulting thing.
February 10th, Journal Entry:
Forgiveness is knowing that I'm a sinner too, and I still sin everyday,
and yet God still loves me every moment
and so I will love those that hurt me
and continue to demean me.
I will pray for those that "do not measure up" (me included).
Forgiveness is asking God
to reveal what is in my own heart
and humbly coming before Him
for my own needs.
Forgiveness is being thankful that I'm forgiven!
And so while I did not grow up with the tradition of Lent, and will not be giving up anything for 40 days, I am thankful that the Lord is working in my life. Isn't He good to keep on working on me? Isn't He patient? Isn't He kind?
As I approach Easter, and even beyond that life-changing day, I pray that I will continue to show grace -
"I'm bringing you home" grace,
"I'm not letting you go" grace,
"we're in this together" grace
that grave-splitting, death-defying grace Jesus has shown to me.
Oh Lord, fill me so that I can pour myself out to you daily.