As I finish the final part of the four part series on love and forgiveness, I reflect this morning on how far I’ve come with both. Just within these last few weeks, it seems as though my heart has been freed from a tremendous weight. The millstone of resistance the was hanging around my neck has been replaced by the tenderness of His fruitful provision. As I continue to make a daily decision to allow His loving mercy to flow within, I am doing my part to extend that mercy to others. Through what I have experienced within these several weeks of renewal, I have seen a part of myself that has transitioned into a closer representation of the Lord.
These things in me that have manifested are from the direction of His making. I know plenty about the world of sin, for I walked with a willing step within its clinches for many years. I now know that the God I did not listen to then, is now speaking to my heart–intimately. The little voice of reason (His) was always drowned out by the very loud growl of my darkness in those days before. The conscience was seared. No consequences were viewed as the resulting acts of that darkness (internal, and external), and the problems within the man in the mirror were blamed on someone else– never on sin, and never on myself for making the wrong decisions in the, “eyes of the Lord”.
The more I walk along this unpredictable and winding road with the One who longs to fill the void of every heart (not just my own, but that of everyone), I gradually see and understand His ways. Unlike the man I had once been in all of those days before inviting Him in and allowing Him to show me the way (that way of love and forgiveness), the void is now becoming filled with the fruits of the Spirit. As I look at these fruits (Gal. 5:22-23): love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, gentleness, goodness, faithfulness, and self-control, I see how forgiveness is directly linked to the heart of the believer. Forgiveness is certainly a byproduct of His fruit! The more I lean into His ways–instead of leaning into the unhinged ways of the flesh–the more I experience His agape love. It’s a way better experience than going about my days with that millstone of resistance around my neck, and it’s imperative when it comes to dealing with the people of our world.
We are all so complicated!!
I have never wanted to be this guy who shuts out everyone that does not believe exactly the way I do. Unfortunately, that is exactly the way I became as I was introduced to the church. I have little to say about the institutionalized church. There is way too much division in it, and I know that I must go–not stay–and spread His light. I must be a beacon of His truth in all of the world–not just within some walls on one or two days of the week, and not within some dividing denomination or sect. As I go about each day, I try to think about the love and forgiveness that Jesus had displayed as He was crucified for our sins, and just how holy He truly was when He was raised from the dead. The more I focus on His purity, the more I see just how important it is to go into all of the world and do my best to be a representation of that purity–not leaving some out because of who they are in their personal world. I’m sometimes a miserable representation of that purity, but I digress.
Each person–whether they are a Christian or not–should be treated with kindness. Each person should be respected, not because they are worthy or not worthy, but because HE is worthy. My heart is what needs to be kept in check and focused upon. The hearts of others are between them and God. All that I can do is be a steward of my own relationship with Him, with the hope of others seeing the light of His making within me. All that I can do is pray that others will see what He has done/is doing in me, and will want to know more about His power.
It’s been pretty good lately. Getting to know more about the heart of God, and allowing His fruit to multiply in my space and time here is an experience that I am really enjoying. I am blessed, and I can honestly say that God is a very loving God. He will sometimes drag you through the refining fires in order to show you just how glorious it is on the other side.