My understanding of God’s ways have deepened dramatically in the last few months. After writing over 1,000 posts during the last 6-7 years, I recently had a breakthrough in the area of forgiveness (the truth sets you free) and since then I have begun to understand everything all over again… but in a far more deep way… but that’s how it goes, isn’t it?
That’s why I remind people to rinse and repeat, because until we get to Heaven we will keep changing and understanding His ways more deeply.
His ways are not our ways
And it’s absolutely so true that His ways are not our ways. Why not?
We grow up in this world learning a few basic fundamental truths about this world which we need to UNlearn when we come into His Kingdom. Some of those untruths may be
- God helps those who help themselves, or,
- that we humans have to do stuff if it’s to get done at all
And there IS some level of truth in those things because in the faith chapter, Hebrews 11, the people showed their faith by the things that they DID. Almost all of the verses start with “by faith x did y”.
But still… despite that… we must unlearn the ways of this world, because His ways are not our ways:
For My thoughts are not your thoughts, neither are your ways My ways, says the Lord. For as the heavens are higher than the earth, so are My ways higher than your ways and My thoughts than your thoughts. – Is 55:8-9
Do you know why His ways – and His Kingdom – is so utterly different to our ways and to this world? Here are some obvious reasons why we struggle to comprehend His motives and His strategies and His choices for us…
- God is Spirit, not flesh like us
- His Kingdom is based in Heaven, not in this natural world – even though in future His Kingdom will be here, right now in 2011 it isn’t completely manifest here
- His most prized value and motivation is love, ours is survival of the fittest
The breakthrough that changed my understanding so that I could hear Him more clearly and so that I could comprehend His motives far more deeply… was… forgiveness.
Why is forgiveness the key?
In the Lord’s prayer it says that we are forgiven AS we forgive others (Mat 16:12, 16:14). Scripture warns that those who have hatred are walking in darkness and cannot find their way (! John 2:11). I have counselled so many people and I have found this to be true. When people say they cannot find God, cannot hear Him, cannot find what He wants for them… all of the time it turns out that the person has suffered terribly over many years and now has built up long term anger and maybe even hatred towards the other person, or God or the world.
But great things happen when we forgive. Recently I counselled someone and after we spoke he went for a walk and he spoke the truth because the truth sets you free and then when he had spoken the truth enough he felt it was time to forgive.
So he spoke out that he forgave God, he forgave his family, he forgave himself. He told God that no one owed him anything. Right away he began to receive the Holy Spirit and massive peace and joy flooded his body!
God rewarded him for his choice to extend grace to those who had hurt him. But to understand this we must ask ourselves… WHY did this happen? What is it about forgiveness that releases such a dramatic connection with God?
The reason is that Jesus Christ extended grace to us all… and He expects us to extend grace to each other.
It’s as if there is a lock on God’s door and the key-code on that lock is “forgiveness“.
Why is it about our heart?
Ask yourself… why does God set the key-code to something so heart-felt? Why is it about our heart?
When my heart changed that day – because of forgiveness – I immediately began to understand God’s ways so much better. My understanding is incomparable to what I knew before. And do you know what has changed the most? My faith.
My understanding of faith has entirely changed. Before I had a vending machine view of faith and God. If I believed, then I got stuff from God. Now my understanding is totally different. The outcome is the same, but my understanding of the relationship between me and Jesus Christ is totally different.
See with the eyes of your heart
I pray also that the eyes of your heart may be enlightened – Eph 1:18
If you can grasp this all in an emotional way, with the eyes of your heart, then you will begin to see the depth of Jesus Christ’s love for His bride – the church. (Not just the bride in a building, but all who believe and have faith in Him).
Now we can see why the people who are saved have done two things:
- spoken with their mouth
- believed with their heart
Now we can also see why religion and law kills… because a series of laws has nothing of the heart in it.
Now we can see why God declared Abram righteous when Abram simply believed the words of God.
[Urged on] by faith Abraham, when he was called, obeyed and went forth to a place which he was destined to receive as an inheritance; and he went, although he did not know or trouble his mind about where he was to go. – Heb 11:8
Pingback: Unlearn All That Learning-The Sam Cooke Method « positivereinventing·
Pingback: Post navigation | What is Emo·
I wrote this out and it got erased as I posted it, so if it seems like I’m posting this twice over, that’s why. 🙂
I have had a massive growth in faith these past few years, but I still was struggling with the idea of forgiveness, especially forgiving my mother for the hurt she caused me. A friend brought my lack of forgiveness to my attention recently, and though I tried to forgive her, and read over and over your writings on forgiveness, something wasn’t clicking. So I finally decided to do something I should have done in the first place: I admitted to God that I couldn’t forgive her on my own, that I needed His help. I also did as you instructed: I asked Jesus to cancel her debts against me, that I no longer held them against her. I thought I forgave her, and I knew the way I needed to test it out.
When I was 18, I came home from college to tell her I was pregnant. I had never imagined that it would happened to me, and I was very scared. She was very angry with me, and told me, among many other things, that I “shouldn’t have spread my legs.” This phrase was something she used in connection with the “trashy,” “loser” teenage girls who got pregnant. She had made it very clear what she thought of pregnant teenagers, and now, I was one of them. I was in desperate need of her support and love, and the rejection stung. It stung so much that 13 years later, I still couldn’t recall that phrase without getting choked up at the very least.
When I forgave her, I realized I also released the lie that I had believed for all these years: I wasn’t trash or a loser, I was someone who was hurting who had used an external fix (sex) to fix an interior hurt. What I did was wrong, but that didn’t forever ruin me. I am a beloved child of God, and even as I was sinning back then, I was still beloved. I can call to mind now what she said to me, and it doesn’t sting anymore.
She is going through a lot of spiritual turmoil right now, and I don’t feel guided to have a conversation with her about forgiveness at this point. When the time is right, then I’ll move forward. I don’t know how she’ll respond, or what I’ll say, but I’m leaving that up to God. 🙂
Your ministry is bearing fruit, Mark! God bless you.
Bear with me, this is a little long. 🙂
I wanted to let you know how helpful these posts on forgiveness have been for me. Two years ago, as I grew in faith, I felt guided to have a conversation with my mother on boundary-setting. She was not receptive to what I had to say, and though she lives just 5 minutes away, we have hardly spoken since. I have had a massive growth in faith since then, but it was only with a friend’s encouraging that I realized that I hadn’t forgiven her for what she did to me as a child and adult. I wanted to forgive her, but I didn’t know how. I read and re-read your writings on forgiveness, but still, I was missing something. So I finally did what I should have done in the first place: I asked God for help in forgiving her. And I did as you said, asking Jesus to cancel her debts against me, that I no longer held them against her. My real test on whether or not I’d forgiven her was calling to mind something she had said to me at a very vulnerable time for me. I’ve tried writing this without including the particulars of what she did, but it was awkward, so I’ll have to include it: when I was 18, I came home from college to tell her I had gotten pregnant. I apologized over and over, but she was very upset and told me I ‘shouldn’t have spread my legs.’ This phrase was something she used in connection with other teenage girls who got pregnant; she made it clear how ‘trashy’ she thought they were, and that girls who had sex before marriage were damaged goods. In my very vulnerable state, this phrase was enormously hurtful to me. My life hasn’t been easy in the 13 years since (I married the father and we’ve had a difficult marriage), and I couldn’t ever call this situation to mind without getting choked up, at the very least.
As I forgave her, I realized that I could call to mind what had happened without feeling pain anymore, and what’s more, I no longer believed the lie that I was a ‘trashy’ person, someone who would forever be damaged goods. I was a hurting person back then, and I tried an external fix (sex) to fix an interior hurt. How freeing to discard the lie!
I want to make sure I’m very solidly forgiving of her, then when I feel the time is right (I feel strongly that it’s not now), I’m going to talk to her, or write a letter, whatever I am guided to do. I don’t know how well she’ll receive what I have to say, and I’m not even sure what I’ll say at this point. I’m going to leave that up to God. 🙂
Your ministry is bearing fruit, Mark! God bless.