We have talked about three gifts that can be ours this Christmas: contentment, joy and experiencing the presence of God. But there is one thing that is a stopper to all of these. Maybe it is time to acknowledge it and do something about it.
I do not mind the crowds at Christmas time, I do not mind hovering for parking places and I certainly do not mind the little things I pick up for myself while shopping for others. hahaha. But there is a gift that does not cost a penny, yet requires we relent and release. This gift will make you more ready to receive the gifts God wants to give you for sure. What is it? The gift of forgiveness.
Perhaps you have been carrying around unforgiveness, having even tucked away a mass of bitterness that seems to grow and harden over time, though you think you have gotten over it, gotten past it--I have found that to be a total lie. Could that be true of you? You never forget the score, now do you?
The question is: are you courageous enough to learn to forgive? To let go of bitterness and unforgiveness is nothing short of opening a gift of emotional freedom.
There is One who wants your freedom more than you, so let us turn to Him in prayer: “Father, you know all about what has gone on… I could dredge things up, rehash them, name the offenses one by one, but God, I do not want to carry these memories and relive them any longer. So, God, I am giving them over to you. Please, God, take the pain I have felt, the mistrust that has built up inside of me and spilled over into other areas, and has made me guarded. Set me free, Lord."
"Father, I pray for the one who has offended and hurt me. For anyone to intentionally hurt another person, there has to be woundedness there too. I pray for him, I pray for her! I pray that You would draw him/her to Yourself!
"Father, help me do what you have called me to do and what is the most healthy thing I could do for myself as a result! In obedience to You, I release him from the bitterness I have carried; I choose to forgive her right now for how I have been hurt. (him or her, whichever fits)
"Show me, God, how to walk out a life of grace and forgiveness—to be slow to take offense, to look for the good in people, to keep no record of wrongs, and if they hurt me, to pray for them and extend mercy in my disposition toward them. I give this all over to You, Lord. I know that I will be forgiven of my sins in the measure I have forgiven others. Thank you, Jesus. Amen."
->OH WAIT! One more thing, Friend. Perhaps you need to forgive yourself.
Sometimes our greatest pain is the shame we carry for what we have done... the guilt can be like a tidal wave threatening to overtake and drown us. [Please pay close attention here: Jesus became a baby for one purpose--to bring us grace, to die so that we could accept this love and forgiveness of sins and walk in close relationship with Him. Actually, we are the reason for the season! Jesus came for us, to set us free!]
->So how do we forgive ourselves, get free of the load of guilt?
I love what the apostle John wrote--so clear, so simple:
If we confess our sins, He is faithful and just and will forgive us our sins and purify us from all unrighteousness.1 Do it, friend.
Do you find it hard to believe God forgives and releases you from guilt? Check it out:
"Lord, extract the root of bitterness from me and replace it with gratitude –
take my guilt and shame and remind me to thank You -
~for your love for me
~for your grace
~for how you have forgiven me!
~for the joy that can replace the bitterness and guilt
"These things can only be accomplished in me if you do the work inside my heart, Lord. So change me, draw my thoughts toward You! Remind me to think of Your goodness, to look around and thank You for the beauty of creation—the sky, birds, trees, ocean and mountains--for love, for freedom… And because you told me to do so, I pray all of this in the powerful name of Jesus, Amen!”
Again, if you can open this gift and let go of unforgiveness it will make all other gifts and Christmas itself sweeter. Of that, I am sure.
A related song by Scotty McCreery, Christmas Coming Round Again: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=bMhZQmbO8zE
Merry Christmas with love,
->p.s. If you are still struggling in forgiving yourself, hit ‘reply’ and say so; I have some more ideas on this. Don’t walk around in chains.
1 - 1 John 1.9
2 - Psalm 103.11-12. Maybe you need to read a little more from this psalm:https://www.biblegateway.com/passage/?search=Psalm%20103&version=NLT