Love, Acceptance & Forgiveness

“Even Me” by “The Triumphant Quartet”
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To begin, let me apologize for the length of this blog. A number of quotes impacted me recently so I borrowed them and it got a little out of hand. I far surpassed the target word count!

Recently, in a Pure Desire 7 Pillars of Freedom group I facilitate, the lesson was titled, “Loving, Accepting & Forgiving.” I know from that discussion as well as my own journey, forgiveness can be a difficult topic. Every time this lesson comes up it re-resonates with me because for years I had a serious misunderstanding of forgiveness:

  • It’s for the recipient so we feel better – “Please forgive me,” we ask;
  • Once “a thing” is forgiven it’s gone and can’t be brought up again. Ever. “Forgive & forget”;
  • Forgiveness and reconciliation are synonymous;
  • Forgiving myself for the hurt & mess and turmoil (understatement of the century) isn’t important. Forgiveness is for others, not for myself. Can I? Should I? Isn’t that just more selfishness? After all the pain I’ve caused my family and friends, how can I do that?
  • And more “false doctrine” I’m sure, but you get the picture;

The next morning, as I was listening to my worship playlist (always on shuffle!), God chose to play an older song that reinforced Monday’s discussion and really struck me (see the song links).

“Neither does God tinker with our old nature, the tangled system of God-doubting, self-protective, pain denying passions within us that the Bible calls our flesh.
[Pause. Think on that statement alone for a moment.]
Rather than entering the dark places of our souls with a flashlight and a scalpel, intent on repairing what’s wrong, He enters with a flashlight and a smile, eager to let us see how HE feels about us even when we stand exposed in His presence…. He looks at us with eyes of delight, with eyes that see a goodness beneath the mess, with a heart that beats wildly with excitement over who we are and who we will become.  And sometimes He exposes what we are convinced would make Him turn away in disgust in order to amaze us with His grace.
(bold emphasis & [remarks] mine)
Larry Crabb1

Forgiveness comes from the one hurt, by cancelling the DEBT owed.
There is no need for participation from the perpetrator.

Reconciliation comes from the perpetrator by apologizing and asking
for forgiveness [doing whatever it takes to Restore the relationship].”
(bold emphasis & [remarks] mine)
Michael Dye2

“Without forgiveness there is no future. Remaining in the state (of unforgiveness) locks you in a state of victimhood, making you almost dependent on the perpetrator.”
Archbishop Desmond Tutu3

“Why is it so easy to hold onto our resentments and judgments of others? Desmond Tutu made reference to why we don’t forgive. It’s because we have embraced or held onto the identity of being a victim. It is one thing to acknowledge that we’ve been hurt by others, but it’s another thing to hold on to being a victim.”4

Then this quote, combined with the song, took my heart away:
“So, we must learn to forgive ourselves. As long as you hold yourself and others in judgment, you will never experience true freedom from your addiction. A perverse form of arrogance is associated with addicts: though God and often others have forgiven them, they cling to their lack of being able to accept forgiveness. They continue to [choose to] live with their judgments and self-abuse. Healing can only come when you allow God, others and yourself to give you a fresh start.”5

A perverse form of arrogance? Yes. That we know better than God. That what He says applies to everyone but me. That the Almighty Creator of Heaven & Earth, infinite, unchanging and Omniscient, made a mistake and created me to be the “one” to whom Grace doesn’t apply. I was there. I was arrogant in my addiction but this was my ultimate arrogance: to not believe that God says what He means and means what He says
and that it DOES APPLY TO:

Even Me
Triumphant Quartet

I’ve heard it all my life, even had it memorized. But it was only words to me,
red letters on a page, just something people say,
’til it brought me to my knees.
Those words in John 3:16:

For God so loved the world He gave, gave His only Son away.
A way to save a wretch like me. Me the one who needed grace.
Grace to cover every stain. Stains that He no longer sees. It’s amazing to believe that
God so loved the world means even me!

How could He see my sins and forgive me even then? Who would pay that kind of price?
I’ve seen what mercy does! He found me where I was, and He gave His life for mine.

For God so loved the world He gave, gave His only Son away.
A way to save a wretch like me. Me the one who needed grace.
Grace to cover every stain. Stains that He no longer sees.
It’s amazing to believe that
God so loved the world means even me!

Me with all my failures. Me with all my shame! It’s the very reason Jesus came.

For God so loved the world He gave, gave His only Son away.
A way to save a wretch like me. Me the one who needed grace.
Grace to cover every stain. Stains that He no longer sees.
It’s amazing to believe that God so loved the world means even me!
It’s amazing to believe! It’s amazing to believe that
God so loved the world means even me!

God so loved the world means even me!6

I ask you now, the same thing I had to ask myself: do you trust God? Do you believe Him? Will you submit to, surrender to and humble yourself before the great I AM and dare to forgive yourself? Beware! These are not “partial” words. You can’t “sorta” submit, “sometimes” surrender or “half-heartedly” humble yourself. These are words of totality. I believe with all my heart, until you do, beautiful Freedom will elude you. Once you do – once I did – every promise He’s ever made, is yours to live. “God so loved the world” means even you. Right where you sit, reading this blog.

Before there was time, or heavens or earth, He knew you and had a FOR, for you, FOR His purpose. Accept His gift of forgiveness. Get up and ask your LORD what He has FOR you. There’s lots of work to be done: Recovery, Restoration & Redemption.

________________________
Quotes all taken from 7 Pillars of Freedom, Pure Desire, Pillar 3, Lesson 3, pgs. 106-111, Dr. Ted Roberts
1 Larry Crab, Connecting: Healing Ourselves and Our Relationships (Nashville, W Publishing Group, 1997).
2 Michael Dye, The Genesis Process (For Change Groups, Book 1 and 2, Individual Workbook (Auburn, Michael Dye, 2012), 123.
3 Desmond Tutu and Mpho Tutu, The Book of Forgiving: The Fourfold Path for Healing Ourselves and Our World (New York, HarperCollins, 2014).
4 Desmond Tutu and Mpho Tutu, The Book of Forgiving.
5 Harry Flanagan, 7 Pillars of Freedom Workbook, Pillar 3, Lesson 3 (Troutdale, Pure Desire Ministries International, 2021), 107.
6 Songwriters: Kenna Turner West, Jason Cox, Jeff Bumgardner – For non-commercial use only. Data from: Musixmatch

Freedom is a gift from God. It is also His Promise; and He ALWAYS keeps His Promises.

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