Have you ever been hurt so deeply that anger built a wall around your heart so that it couldn’t happen again?
What about feeling paralyzed in grief and sadness because someone who was supposed to protect you and love you, hurt you instead?
Here’s one I know all to well. Have you ever sunk deep in depression because life didn’t turn out the way you had hoped because of another’s sin or choices?
Life is full of heartache. And a lot of it at the hands of others. Hopefully you’ve read my marriage story and the redemption that we found in Christ. But some question how? How is it possible to move past the past and live abundantly?
You might even ask yourself…
How can I let go of the pain I endured for years at the hands of a parent?
How can anyone expect me to move past the sadness that trapped me in depression at the hands of my spouse?
How am I suppose to forgive the sorrow that has stolen many years of my life at the hands of my children’s choices?
How am I suppose to look past the past and move forward?
I’m glad you asked. It’s a revelation that changed my life and that continues to change my life as I beg for complete understanding.
Grace. Grace. And more Grace.
Even as believers, it is hard for us to fully understand just what that means. If we did, our example of it would be seeping from the walls of our homes, our schools, and our churches and we would be impacting the world in a deafening way that could shape the future. It would ooze out when we spoke and it would comfort when we give. It would keep peace and offer forgiveness when underserved.
You see, as believers in Christ, we can often quote Ephesians 2:7 pretty quickly. You know, “it is by grace you have been saved.” And we believe grace in that moment of change, that moment of surrender, that moment of salvation. But it seems as if the minute following acceptance and we lift our eyes, we begin to do battle with grace and its full understanding. We live defeated lives, we hold grudges, we shame others, we shame ourselves. We scream revenge, we post judgement, we treat others differently. We give silent treatments, we push away, we hold on to the past.
Someone ticks us off at work, someone gets the raise over us, someone is recognized for their worldly ways and we forget grace.
A spouse makes a monumental mistake, a drowning choice, a selfish desire and we forget grace.
A parent abandons us, doesn’t agree with us, neglects us, hurts us and we forget grace.
Family turns their back, friends leave us, church people change, the world sins, and we forget grace.
Doesn’t it seem easier to tuck that word away after we meet our Savior at the moment of salvation and hold on to what we think we know? What we deserve? What we believe? Watch this.
There’s a perfect example of grace woven into the scripture in Luke 23. Verses 39-43 to be exact. There’s a perfect example of whatever the issue, the sin, the choice, the past, the timing, grace.
“One of the criminals who hung there hurled insults at him, “Aren’t you the Christ? Save yourself and us.” But the other criminal rebuked him. “Don’t you fear God,” he said, “since you are under the same sentence? We are punished justly, for we are getting what our deeds deserve, But this man has done nothing wrong.”
Then he said, “Jesus, remember me when you come into your kingdom.
Jesus answered him, “I tell you the truth, today you will be with me in paradise.”
Can you believe this? Can you believe that Christ who was hanging on a cross, bleeding out the results of my sin, your sin, didn’t make the criminal explain himself? He didn’t even make him work at paying back for his bad choices, his sin? That Christ didn’t hold a grudge against a man who’s very sin put him on that cross? Can you believe that in His agony of nail driven hands and feet, he gave grace?
You see, especially as believers, we think that we have the right to hold on to another’s mistakes and use it to justify how we feel. We believe that we can build walls, hold grudges, cast judgement because we are different. You know, Christians. We justify our anger and resentment with results of the past and we explain ourselves with justification that others didn’t hold up their end of the deal. We claim that we were the better spouse, the better child, the better parent, the better friend. Seriously, we do.
We throw stones and push away the sinful because we are Christians and we know better.
Oh, how we don’t understand grace. Grace. God’s Grace.
Don’t we realize that the same Christ we justify our reasoning of judgement with is the same Christ who looked out on a mountain and forgave the very people who crucified Him? He is the same Christ who freely gave grace to the wretched criminal who didn’t deserve anything more than the death he was facing and He is the same Christ who offers that same grace to you, to me?
Oh how we’ve missed what our Risen King died for.
Today I ask you to search the depths of your heart, your pain, your resentment. Today I ask you to reexamine the reasoning behind the unforgiveness. Today I ask you to beg God to reveal the true meaning of Grace so that you can live life to the full.
Friends, believe me, I know. Bitterness, anger, control, isolating, judging, pulling away. It’s all easier. But grace is freedom. Grace is peace. Grace is power. And that life is the life that Christ died for us to have.
Marriages can be restored. Relationships can be mended. Wounds can be healed. The past can be let go of. Grace. What a gift. I’m praying that we all receive it to the fullest and give it even more.