Friday, August 12, 2011


In following Christ on this journey there is something else we need to think about:

What are the things that are weighing us down and have the potential of keeping us from finishing the journey?
I read this quote somewhere years ago 
"It isn't the mountain ahead of you that will wear you out, it's the rock in your shoe".

We all know the experience of starting a hike or walk and within minutes we become aware of something in our shoe that is irritating our foot and the longer we go without addressing it, the more irritating it becomes until it becomes all consuming. At some point we are forced to stop and clean out the shoe so we can proceed without the irritation. 

So, what is the rock in your shoe? What is it that is hindering you? What is weighing you down and consuming your attention? What do each of us need to be free of so we can focus on Jesus and the journey He has prepared for us?

A principle we teach at my church and at our marriage retreats is the power of 
"Unresolved Issues"
These are the sins done against us in the past and the ongoing power they continue to have in our lives because they never get resolved. "Someone hurt you. Someone lied to you. Trust has been broken by something some one did to you or said about you. The closer the person is to you and the more you trusted them or cared about them, the deeper the wound and the more powerful the betrayal".
       Left unresolved, the ongoing effects of the sin done against us can be far more destructive than the original sin. We stay captive to the sin and to the person who did it to us and we are unable to experience freedom and the abundant, uninhibited joyous life that Jesus paid so dearly to provide us. It clouds everything. We loose objectivity. We become sensitized to the sin in we see in others, but because we are still captive to the sin done to us, we can only judge others and are helpless to be used to free others from the sin that is enslaving them. Our captivity to the the sin done to us does some other very significant things:
- It robs us of the ability to believe who we really are in Christ.
- We see ourselves as unlovable, and unworthy of God's love and the gifts He wants to give us.
- We are robbed of our true identity in Christ, and can't see ourselves as God sees us and this  
         makes the captivity even worse.
- We live in shame.

It will lead us to even darker places if not resolved.  Alcoholism, drug addiction, food addictions, materialism, anger, bitterness, shame, etc. These are all in an attempt to avoid the pain. We pull away from the ones who love us most. Maybe the worst thing we do is hide our stuff, and Hiddenness allows the power of the sin to grow even more and keeps us captive. It's all a reaction to unresolved sin done to us that keeps us captive to the enemy and unable to experience the life Jesus has for us.

We isolate and become defensive when others try to address our issues because the shame has robbed us of the ability to see clearly and to trust anyone with us and our stuff because, we believe the lie that if they knew the worst about me they would abandon me.

So, what is the solution?
The most important thing to understand about forgiveness is this:
                                                                                                    it is first and foremost for me!
By choosing to forgive the one who sinned against me I am choosing to be free from the power of that person, and the sin they did against me and it's ongoing effects and influence. I am choosing to let God deal with them and what they did. He is the only one who can do that, and He does it very well. I am only responsible for me and my relationship with God, and no one else's relationship with Him. By forgiving I am trusting Him with me and my stuff, and He is fully trustworthy.
        By forgiving them in prayer to God, I am breaking the power of the hurt, anger, resentment, and bitterness that is only hurting and destroying me and sadly, those around me. Whether the person I am forgiving ever knows it or not isn't important. It is only important that I do it for me, to be free from the destructive effects of holding on to it.
       By forgiving I am choosing to live as I was meant to live in Christ, and Christ in me, and experience my walk with Christ with nothing distracting me. If I choose not to forgive I will remain captive and weighed down by this junk, and I will stay broken.
         Even Jesus, while taking His last breaths on the cross chose to forgive. Lu 23:34* But Jesus was saying, Father, forgive them; for they do not know what they are doing.”
         ..."they do not know what they are doing". It is true. They thought they were crucifying a man who claimed to be God. That was blasphemy to them. They did not know that they were actually crucifying the Son of God - God in the flesh, and in doing so they were providing the final sacrifice for their sin and brokenness and their hopeless condition. Jesus was asking His Father to forgive us because that was the very reason he had come to earth and He was choosing to die for us because it was the only hope we had. His death would bring about forgiveness for all of us, and the chance for a new life if we choose to trust Jesus. He was doing this for the very ones crucifying Him.
        Understanding the truth that forgiveness is for me, I sometimes wondered if the other reason Jesus prayed this prayer was because Jesus understood this same truth. He knew that He was going to suffer Hell for us, and the abandonment of His Father so our sin could be atoned for, and He was not going to go through this carrying the weight of the sin done against Him. He forgave us so He could be free of the power of what was being done to Him. He would not carry this weight in addition to what He was about to endure for us.
This journey is too important and precious to let anything rob me of the beauty of the experience of walking with Jesus on this amazing adventure.
I don't need other voices in my head keeping me from hearing truth from the One who is the Truth. I only want to hear His voice as He continually tells me who I am in Him, and what awaits me around the next bend, and ultimately at the end of my journey as a citizen of His Kingdom and an alien in this foreign place called the world.
All I need to know is:
- He loves me!
- He knows me!
- He cherishes me just the way I am, and will always be with me no matter what!
- I am forgiven and I am a new creature in Christ!
- The work He began in me He will finish and I will be transformed!
          If I am sure of those things then nothing else matters. When I am secure in those truths then I am free to love and be loved and give myself away. I can live sacrificially because my needs are already provided for both here and forever. He has given me abundant life here and eternity with Him - my Glorious Savior. I can be free of guilt and shame, anger, hurt and all the other consequences of anything that was done to me in the past.
        So, as we set out on this journey with Christ, we must be honest and look at what we are still trying to carry that we don't need anymore. Then we must take those things to God in prayer and give them to Him once and for all, and forgive those who sinned against us, whoever they are and whatever they did. We may need to do this over and over until the power is broken and we stand free in the light of God's truth - JESUS! Then we can get on with the journey FREE from the burden and weight of the unresolved issues.
Christ's yoke is easy and His burden light. 
It's everything else we are trying to carry that will wear us out and keep us from finishing the Great Adventure Jesus has called us on.
        I have recently gone through some very painful and confusing things in my life, and I could easily have fallen into the trap of holding on to them and rehearsing them over and over in my head and heart. But I Won't! It is a fruitless and debilitating exercise. I will choose to believe what God says is true about me and live in the light of that truth. I will forgive and live free in the knowledge that Jesus lives in me and I can do all things through Him - the One who strengthens me. He knows my heart. I will leave Him to do in others what only He can do and I will keep my eyes on Him and following Him to my final goal. I will be transformed into the image of His Son and I will settle for nothing less, both here and in the forever that awaits me.
Forgiveness is one of the greatest gifts God has given us, but it is a wholly unnatural act in and of ourselves. Therefore we must depend on Him for the strength and humility to do it and the ability to trust Him with the results. It is the only way we can do it, and it was designed this way so that we would depend on God and not ourselves. God has designed us to be dependent on Him. When we try and operate any other way, we suffer in brokenness. We miss the wonder and the beauty of life in Christ.
So, I encourage you as I do myself!
Then keep your eyes on Christ, the Author and Finisher of our faith, and keep trusting that He will get us home and we will be free from the power of sin, both now and forever in His glorious Kingdom - the goal of our journey with Him.

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