Freedom from Prison

“How can you ask me to do that?” Alison wiped the tears from her face. “You know all the ugly things he’s done.”

Yes, Debra knew what her brother-in-law had done before, during, and since their nasty divorce. She also knew how much it hurt when someone who should love you turned on you in hatred. Hadn’t her own daughter hurt her more than any parent should be asked to endure?

“But that’s not the point–” she began.

“Oh, I get it. You want me to say, ‘I forgive you, Leo. It’s all right. It wasn’t your fault.”

“Not at all.” How could Debra help her dear sister understand? Oh, yes. “Alison, remember the story Jesus told about the king who forgave his manager who embezzled a million dollars from him? Do you remember how that same manager then refused to forgive someone who owed him very little?”

Alison nodded, but from her glowering expression, Debra  had the feeling her sister knew where this was going and didn’t like it. She continued anyway, “Later the king discovered his manger refused to forgive a neighbor’s debt and threw his manager in prison.”

Debra looked into her sister’s red-rimmed eyes. “Alison, unforgiveness is a prison.”

Alison crossed her arms. “So you want me to let him get away with all the terrible things he’s done–all the terrible things he still does every chance he gets.”

“I want you to put all that in God’s hands where it belongs. The important thing is for you–all of us–to trust God to know what is best.” Debra took took her sister’s hands. “Alison, when we choose to forgive, we get our lives back. We are free! No more tormenting prison of self-pity and hatred. You want that, don’t you? Then start right now by forgiving Leo for each thing you remember that still hurts you.”

“Forgiving him won’t stop him.”

“No,” Debra said.”But as long as you keep forgiving, you stay free and give God room to work in your heart and his. Alison, let God handle Leo.”

Debra was right. Forgiving another’s wrongs doesn’t make the person right. It simply says, “I cancel the debt you owe me–love, money, respect, or anything else–and put the matter in God’s hands.” Jesus gave us our one sure way out of the painful prison of unforgiveness.

Focus: “Forgive whatever grievances you may have … forgive as the Lord forgave you” ~ Colossians 3:13, New International Version.

How about you? What do you think of Jesus’ method of freeing yourself from the prison of unforgiveness? How has it worked for you or someone you know?

 

 

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Jane Eyre

When this popular classic novel first appeared in 1847, author Charlotte Bronte had no idea how deeply it would affect a young girl more than one hundred years later. Though my circumstances were nothing like its heroine, Jane’s struggle for love in a cold and cruel world grabbed my heart and stayed with me through the years.

One part in particular inspired me with the courage to live likewise. Maybe it’s done the same for you.

Jane’s long struggle comes to a climax. Finally, oh finally, she stands before the church altar, her heart bursting with happiness. She’s about to wed her beloved when the minister utters those fatal words, “If either of you know any impediment why you may not lawfully be joined together in matrimony . . .  confess it.” Jane expects no answer. She knows of no reason why she and her Mr. Rochester cannot marry.

But another does and declares that her beloved is already married and his wife still living. In utter shock, Jane turns to him. He doesn’t deny the charge. Discovering the heart-wrenching circumstances of his marriage brings understanding, but she still faces a horrible choice. Cling to their hard-won love and what happiness they can grasp, or do what is right. Her own heart breaking and knowing she is also breaking the heart of the man she dearly loves, Jane turns and walks away.

Because she chooses to honor God’s Word–even at great cost, God rewards her faithful love for him. Over time, he works circumstances so that Jane and her beloved Mr. Rochester can be reunited and married.

Through the years, I’ve found this to be true: Faithful love for God can be costly but, in the end, reaps great rewards with no regrets.

How about you? Have you found this true in your own life? What sacrifice have you made to remain faithful in your love for God?