Thursday, 8 August 2013

Learning Forgiveness From “Amish Grace”

Grace Words

by King Julius Kwedhi

Forgiveness is a place of restoration and transformation. It is not an act of concealing rottenness in the heart, but, on the contrary, it is the letting go of the hurt, anger and bitterness, and saying no to the rottenness that tries to take residence in your heart.

Forgiveness isn’t a cover up, but an opening up to true love. Genuine love. Unconditional love that flows out of a pure heart. It is not a mask you put on as a show to the outside world that “nothing” can hurt you. It is the admitting that you have been hurt and you have chosen to not let that hurt to inhabit your heart. Forgiveness is the victory against doubt and fear.

Unbelief births unforgiveness. On the other hand, faith births forgiveness. When you do not believe the Word of God that promises freedom in forgiveness, you get hold of unforgiveness and will refuse to let it go because you apparently do not want to look “coward,” “wimpy,” and “unreasonable.” But when you get hold of the Word of faith and claim its victory and freedom in forgiveness, you become a champion. Do not settle for unbelief. Unbelief opens your heart to hatred and anger both against man and the Lord Jesus, our God.

Hear the language of faith in the face of forgiveness:

“We will not allow hatred into our hearts.[i]” “To forgive him (the offender) makes it easier. We don’t have to see him. We don’t have to talk to him. His fate is in God’s hands.[ii]
“Forgiveness is the right thing to do. God commands it. We must trust God’s wisdom.[iii]
You may ask, “What wisdom? Why would God allow a beautiful girl to be slaughtered? Why?[iv]
“I don’t know.” But I will forgive. He is Wiser. “All I know is that, if we forgive, God promises that peace will follow. iii

But, in the natural, we won’t see things that way. The eyes of unbelief don’t see that promise. They don’t rely on that promise.

Unbelief is quite selfish, you know. It says things like, “God has shattered my heart. And I will not betray my daughter by forgiving the man who killed her. I will not do it”iv, Julius, or whosoever you may be talking to.

Listen, the man who killed your daughter is dead or probably in the hiding, or wherever he is. The man who raped you like a dog when you were growing up is probably very old right now, or dead, or in a faraway place, or still in your neighbourhood. Perhaps it was your own father. The woman who treated you like trash all your life might still be alive and flourishing, and never said “sorry” for all the crimes she did to you. She used you like you were a no body. But you cannot torment yourself because someone else has tormented you. It has been said that “two wrongs don’t make a right”, and unforgiveness is wrong.

And remember this one thing: It is true that the person that wronged you really “did an evil thing.... But tell me, this hate that is inside of you, how does it feel? Does it feel good? No. Hate is a very big, very hungry thing with lots of sharp teeth, and it will eat up your whole heart, and will leave no room left for love. We are lucky (fortunate, blessed) that God understands this (our various harsh situations of offences). He is the One that will handle the punishment so that we do not have to carry all this terrible hate all around inside of us, if we don’t want to. If we are willing to forgive.”iii

Forgiveness is not trying to ignore the offence and all the horrendous things that have happened to you. It is not that at all. Have you been through some hard stuff caused by other people? Here is a stronghold of faith to stand on: “My daughter is dead, too. And I want to scream at the world, too, but more than that I do not want to make my heart a battleground between hate and love. It hurts too much. We have suffered enough damage. We must do as God asks. We must choose love.ii

And, not to forget, forgiveness is a place of true comfort. When you are wronged run there and you will find all the comfort that you will ever need. Maybe you do not think so, but it is true.

Unbelief meets true faith

The news reporter in this movie, Amish Grace, met up with the leader of the Amish people, Levi. And hear in their conversation, from the mouth of the reporter, the unbelief that is opposed to forgiveness saying things like,

“Not everything is God’s work.[v]” (In Spanish, that statement will sound this way, “No todo es obra de Dios.”)
 “For many years we were persecuted for our faith. We are not afraid to die.”
“Young girls should not have to die while sitting in school.”
“No. No, it may not seem so to us, we who are left to bear the pain and loss. But it is not our place to decide who does and [who] does not die. That, especially, is God’s work.”
“Charlie Roberts (the murderer) wrote in his suicide note that he wanted to offend God for taking his baby daughter. He was purposely doing evil.”
“All the more reason that we should forgive him.”
“Do you say things like that because you are supposed to say them?”
“I believe that you are asking me if I am a puppet to my faith.”
“No. I am sorry. It’s just, I don’t see how you can forgive someone who hasn’t shown regret, or expressed remorse. I don’t see that as genuine forgiveness.”
“Forgiveness comes from an open heart. And it comes without condition. Or it does not come at all.”

Gideon’s conversation with his wife, Ida

You have to stand for what you believe in, not just because you should say things that confirm your faith, but because your faith is real. It is not a cook up. It is not a wimpy, wooshy washy thing that just comes and goes. It is a strong and sturdy faith and it is immovable like a mountain, although even a mountain can be moved by faith.

Gideon, as the father to Mary Beth, who was one of the girls killed by Charlie, had to stand firm in this faith if he was going to rescue his family from falling into doubt and unbelief towards God and His faithfulness. His wife felt insecure living in the place where their daughter was murdered. Gideon tried to speak her out of her decision:

“You are in pain. You are not thinking right.”
“Not true. Pain clears the mind very well, and I know that I do not belong here. I am not a meek sheep like Rachel and Melinda. Like you (Gideon), offering up our daughter as a sacrifice to faith.”
“You will mock our faith now? Our faith is the only thing of value that we have.”
“No. We had so much more than that! We had Mary Beth! Our child was a priceless value. And you made her cheap with your easy forgiveness!”
“It is not easy to forgive! The Lord does not set us on an easy path! But this I know; Faith, when everything is as easy as you want it to be, is not true faith. It is only when our lives are falling apart that we have a chance to make our faith real. Now, if you do not have true faith, then perhaps you are right. Perhaps you don’t belong here.”
“So, you will let me go?”
“I will not force you to stay here against your will.”

The act of forgiving is the effectual working of the redemptive work of Christ in and through you, and let it bubble up evidently in you. The battle of whether to forgive or not is a battle between faith and unbelief. Will you have faith and forgive, or will you settle for unbelief and harbour around unforgiveness in your heart? Hatred and bitterness is an inevitable fruit of the later. I advise you to chose faith and forgive.

[i] Levi – Amish Grace (movie)
[ii] Rachel – Amish Grace (movie)
[iii] Gideon – Amish Grace (movie)
[iv] Ida – Amish Grace (movie)
[v] Reporter (Female)

Further Scripture Reading:
Ephesians 4:31-32 ESV
(31)  Let all bitterness and wrath and anger and clamor and slander be put away from you, along with all malice.
(32)  Be kind to one another, tenderhearted, forgiving one another, as God in Christ forgave you.

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