"For if you forgive men when they sin against you, your heavenly Father will also forgive you. But if you do not forgive men their sins, your Father will not forgive your sins." Matthew 6:14-16
A couple of friends of ours came into town for one of our conferences. Afterward they stayed with us as we debriefed from what happened during the event. The question was asked, "From an outsiders' perspective, what do you think we could have done differently?"
"Talk more about forgiveness," one of them said. "Ah," our other friend at the table said. "The language of heaven."
Forgiveness is so hard sometimes. How can the unforgiveable be forgiven? A child molester, a cheating spouse, murder, neglect - these are difficult things that happen. Even smaller offenses can create huge wounds, too big to heal even with the words, "I'm sorry." But what are we going to do with wounds and offenses when they happen? Certainly a grieving process is needed. But what will our end response be?
I read an article where a young woman was describing how her mom and brother were killed in a terrible shooting perpetrated by the U.S. government. Her mother and 14-year old brother were shot before her eyes as a 16-year old teenager. Her mother had been carrying her baby sister in her arms when she was killed. It took her 10 years to grieve. She says, "I was afraid to laugh because you're betraying their memory. I lived as a prisoner of depression for a long time." But finally, she chose to let go and forgive the perpetrators.
"I hit rock bottom," she said. "I opened up my Bible and read John 3:16. Jesus made himself very real to me. He started healing me of all my pain. No one drug me to a church and started hitting with the Bible. It was more real to me even than (the incident). I feel like a huge weight's come off my shoulders... The anger you hold for someone else imprisons you and keeps you from helping others," she said.
Wow. I pray that we are all able to speak 'the language of heaven', no matter the offense, and let Jesus our Healer heal every wound that's ever been inflicted upon us as we make the choice to forgive.