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The Forgiving Journey
by Doris Thompson
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You have this book in your hand. You are not sure if you need it. You aren’t sure if it has anything that will help you. You are still reading for by now you are curious. I know. I picked up several before my eyes fell on the one book the Lord wanted me to have.

At a week-end ladies retreat, I met God in a new way, an exciting way,
a breath of fresh air to my stale world way,
a piece of bread to a hungry soul way,
a comforting peace to my troubled heart way,
a healing of my wounded spirit way.

While in prayer the Lord spoke to my heart to take a break. Since the retreat, I had a tendency to read my Bible and pray without going outside the house. I was lost in my study, and I felt as a sponge absorbing what I read. I had prepared breakfast for the children, saw them out the door for school, then as I had become accustomed, I found the Lord waiting for me at my couch It was there at his feet and in His presence I was learning who I was in Christ Jesus. I was losing my self consciousness. My low self esteem seem to vanish in light of Who had planned for me from the beginning of time. He approved of me, and assured me that He doesn’t make junk. I was learning something new each day, until..

On Tuesday I was interrupted by an urge to go to a new Book store that had opened up a few blocks from my house. I didn’t know what I was looking for. I just knew I was supposed to go. After replying to the clerk that I needed to browse, I walked around the store silently praying that I wouldn’t buy everything in store unless I knew I was supposed to have it. You can have Wal-mart, but give me a Bible book store and I don’t know when to stop.

I picked up Don Gossett’s book on “What you say is what you get”. That had a nice ring to it. I kept looking. Picking up a book to read a page, laying it down and moving on to the next one, I finally selected another one and lingered on his pages. “The Art of Forgiving” by Lewis B. Smedes. I didn’t know why I would need it but, whatever. Both the books however, would hold great significance for me. The Lord was doing surgeries on my heart and attitude and it was great. So I paid for the books and went home.

I was a negative person. I had been all my life. I grew up with looking at the dark side of life rather than the bright side. So when I opened the book by Don Gossett, my soul was like a sponge. The book was what I needed to get started off on the right footing my second forty years of being a Christian. I had not learned to say what the Word says. In fact, I had called myself a student of the Word, however my heart knowledge needed what my head knowledge had stored. I was dooming my children, and my husband by my negative speech against them. My young son was lost, and it was only after five years of crying, and begging God to save him, I realized I had not taken God at His Word. “All souls are mine”, He declares. “I came to seek and save that which was lost”, He continues

My prayer changed from begging to reminding. “God you said, all souls are mine’ #and that means the soul of my son. You said it is not my will that any perish but that all should come to repentance. # So it looks like you and I want the same thing. From this day forth I thank you for saving my son. I thank you that you are at this moment bringing him to yourself. Amen”

The next day I prayed again, “God I thank you that the soul of my son belongs to you. I thank you that Jesus death is not in vain for my child, for You are bringing him to the knowledge of his need for a savior.. I thank you that You and I agree that he will not perish but have everlasting life.”#

Again the following day my prayer was basically the same, “I thank you for saving Steve. I thank you that your Word is forever settled in Heaven and that he is being brought on wings of prayer at this very moment. I praise you for sending someone to minister to him and that he receives the messenger. I thank you that he belongs to you and you have loaned him to me for a little while.”

After two months of praying the Word of God, Steve came into church and made his way to an altar. Smelling of cigarettes, wearing torn bell bottom jeans, and a shirt that had not been washed he came home.

While reading the book “The Art of Forgiving”, and during my begging prayers for his salvation the Lord showed me I had an unforgiving spirit. The pain of his back sliding condition caused in me a soul searching of the highest magnitude. During prayer one day the words from Matthew 7 verse 1 was spoke into my spirit. The words sounded familiar, and as they came, with them also came a repentant heart. “Judge not, that you be not judged. 2For with what judgment you judge, you will be judged; and with the measure you use, it will be measured back to you.” Immediately I began asking God whom I had judged. “Who have I judged unfairly, Oh Lord”, I wailed.

As quickly as the scripture had come into my spirit, just as quickly the answer came after I questioned where in I had judged. Three families had been the target of my tongue. It had not been that long ago either. I recalled my judgment “They have failed somewhere or their son would not be on drugs.” “They have been too loose on that child. He needed more structure. They should have...” “I feel so sorry for those parents having to face they did something wrong...” “...you remember they never did discipline their kids anyway”.

You talk of revelation. The spoken Word of God brings repentance. Oh how I hurt and during prayer I felt the same pain those parents must have felt whose child had drifted away from God and everything they had taught him. I knew now how they must have hurt. I understood. They may not have failed, we were all products of our time. We didn’t do things by the book, but was there a book out there for guarantees on raising children? Each of the families I had judged including myself had taken our children to church and let the Sunday School teacher do their thing. We brought them into the sanctuary to hear the preacher. We taught them right from wrong. So what went amiss?

The Lord did not allow much looking back, for precious time was wasting and I had some learning to do.

He taught me to first forgive myself. Then he taught me to forgive Steve for disappointing me. “You haven’t always done things right” God assured me. “All have sinned and come short of the glory of God”# He was right, I had failed in so many ways. It was when I forgave Steve I was able to pray for him. Each day when he came by to visit, I had a new word for him. “Son you are going to be alright. God has His hand on you” “Son, you are going to be a productive citizens when you get your life together.” “Son you are going to make a great Father”. Each time he came the Lord had given me more instructions that I carefully carried out. Each day his shoulders seemed less heavy and his steps more sure when he left to go on his way. Each day my smile, my hug and yes my new attitude was making its way into his heart. Each day the words the Lord had given me to declare to him was breaking up the fallow ground of his heart. The seed had been planted and my love and acceptance was watering the seed.

Eventually after two months of renewing myself in the Word and learning that what came from my mouth could either kill or build up, he came to Christ.

So yes, you are reading this for a purpose. Don't stop now, there is more. I want to walk with you for often forgiving is a journey. To be able to forgive immediately after an offence has never been done that I know of. Sometimes it takes years and even though the situation that caused the pain is real, forgiving is possible. I believe we are ready to settle our heart and rid ourself of all the ungliness of past hurts. Surely we do not want to go into our senior years with excess baggage of unforgiveness when we can shed those unwanted feelins of hatred and genuine dislike of someone who walked through our life and left debris for us to stumble over. I truly believe life is a Forgiving Journey

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