About a week ago it occurred to me that I haven’t been hearing from God in the way that I usually do. When I have been reading my Bible and devotionals, the words just seem to bounce off instead of reaching deep into my soul. I kind of think that’s why I have been stuck on what to blog about. I haven’t been receiving any direction or inspiration – until now.

This certainly isn’t the first time this has ever happened to me.  It’s happened many times during my faith journey and I don’t like it when it does.  After many years of walking with God I have learned what to look for and what things might be going on in my life when He seems silent.

Sometimes God seems silent because I’m not really listening.  A relationship with God is very much like our human relationships.  In order to listen to God I need to slow down and quiet my mind.  God speaks to me through the Word, through sermons, in devotionals, and through other believers.

But – this has not been the case.  I have been taking the time to sit with God and still ….nothing is reaching me.

I wondered if maybe I was so closely connected with the Lord through my journey with cancer that maybe things have just settled back to normal. But that’s not it.  I have had a close relationship with God for many years and this is not normal.  I have been fighting for “normal”  intimacy and it has not come.

And finally,  I asked myself if maybe there is some sin that has crept up into my life that is keeping me from hearing God’s voice.  When there is sin in my life it has a way of cluttering up my soul in such a way that it makes it hard for me to hear from the Lord.  And so I asked, “Lord, what is it?  I long for the same intimacy we experienced before.  Can you tell me – show me ? 

And nothing came.

Last weekend our kids gave my husband and I a night out at a really cool hotel in Stillwater, MN  and we turned it into a 24 hour date.  We brought our books and a speaker so we could play music and we didn’t turn on the TV even once.  It was heavenly.

I “happened” to be reading a book and the story had to do with a woman who was dealing with unforgiveness towards her ex-husband.  When the woman was finally able to give her hurts and bitterness to the Lord – once and for all – she felt a deeper joy and connection to God than she had ever known.  And as I read this, I felt a conviction in my heart.

I pleaded with the Lord and asked Him to reveal what is going on with me.  I desperately wanted to get to the bottom of this.  And I asked Him, “Lord, am I still harboring my hurts?  I thought I was all done with that.  I thought I was free.  How do I know whether or not I have truly forgiven?” 

I googled around some of my favorite Christian writers and put their thoughts together and I came up with a sort of litmus test that I failed miserably.  Clearly, I still have unforgiveness in my heart. I asked myself these questions –

* When you think of this person or hear their name does it evoke hurt or bitter emotions?

* Does thinking about this person trigger hurtful memories of the past?

*If I saw this person today – could I extend a genuine, warm hug – and mean it?

*Do I have critical thoughts towards this person?

* Do I have the desire that this person would be exposed?

I can tell you that all of my answers were the wrong ones.

I tired to wiggle out of this every which way that I could.  “Lord, isn’t what I feel more about hurt than unforgiveness?  And hey!  Ive been doing a pretty good job of blocking them out of my thoughts and not talking about them.” 

And right then and there, I was reminded of  what I recently read in one of my devotionals.  And I remembered it nudging me when I read it.

And come to think about it, just last week something triggered in me and emotions of indignation rose up once again.  And it filled my soul with anger and hurt.

This made me feel like a complete and total failure and I beat myself up about it – bad. I have prayed about 1000 times to completely forgive and here I go again. After being a believer for so long shouldn’t I be able to detect and correct this?  What is the problem here?

In His great compassion, the Lord showed me through my readings that hurt can take some time to heal. And although I allowed sin in my life once again, I’m not who I used to be in this regard.  There has been a great deal of improvement, but I want to experience transformation in this area.

I cannot and do not want to carry around unforgiveness.  Even hurt is a form of unforgiveness…because I am holding onto something someone did to me.  I have not let go of their sin.

So I Googled some more to find out some tips to being able to forgive. And this is the list I came up with –

* Name the hurts to God, one-by-one, and tell Him how they made you feel. Talk about it …yell about it…and whine if you need to.

* Go back over the list and pray the blood of Jesus over that hurt.

* Now – list the sins you have committed against this person. Then ask Jesus for forgiveness and ask Him to wash you clean by His blood.

* Regulary pray that God would bless this person with the fruits of the spirit – love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, gentleness, self-control, and faithfulness.

* Have compassion for this person and their story.

This wasn’t easy for me.  Inside of me I was fighting against prayers of blessing over this person.  I mean…that’s a lot to ask don’t you think? I realized that I still wanted to harbor it –  as though harboring it was some sort of revenge.

I asked the Lord to give me the will to forgive.  I have tried 1000 times and I cannot do it.

I’ve prayed this before but this time was different…this time I surrendered. This time I laid it ALL down. And this time I believe something deep and profound happened in my soul.

This morning I woke up and did the litmus test.  I thought of this person and my emotions remained peaceful.  I prayed blessings over this person and in my mind I imagined running into them and being able to extend a warm hug.  I imagined saying, “I am so very sorry this happened between us.”

Forgiveness opens the door to remember the good things this person contributed to my life.  Forgiveness enables me to look at things through a different lens.

I could not forgive in my own strength, but  surrendering to God allowed me to let go of my personal bag of offenses that I have carried for so long.  Today I heard God’s voice. 

Forgiveness does not necessarily mean that you trust a person and forgiveness doesn’t mean that you cannot set boundaries.  Forgiveness does not necessarily mean reconciliation – but it means you leave the door open to it.

And then I asked myself – are there other people who evoke negative emotions in me?  And I asked forgiveness. And I asked if there were other sins that I needed to deal with?  And I became aware of another…

But that’s another blog…

Today I experienced a  miracle…my Lord and my Savior has set me free.

Until next time,