Previous Challenge Entry (Level 4 – Masters)
Topic: Love and Grace (09/11/14)
- TITLE: Like Jonah
By Francy Judge
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ADD TO MY FAVORITES
I am supposed to love.
Turn the other cheek.
But can I forget?
Always thought I could, but when a relative hurled her arrows at me, while my family and I were going through the worst time ever, all I wanted was retaliation. Not like I hadn’t read “Forgive as the Lord forgave you” before.
The storm came, destroyed our home. We didn’t ask for help, didn’t know what we needed or how to rebuild. I was hoping for a toilet, but she offered us her daughter’s expensive furniture when they’d move in the spring. We said yes, although at the time we didn’t have a kitchen, bathroom or finished floors. We figured in six months, when they planned to move, we’d be back to normal and could get the furniture. So wrong.
“I” have been saved
In May, she emailed the plans for when we’d need to come and get the furniture. With no change in our situation, furniture was the last thing we needed. How could we drive over ten hours away when we were broke with an unfinished home and a son about to graduate high school? She’d have to understand if I explained everything. So I emailed back, apologizing for changing our minds, but we didn’t have the money to go there, living paycheck to paycheck with five kids.
And this not from yourselves,
It is the gift of God.
You’ve got mail…boy did I ever! “I knew I shouldn’t have trusted you to keep a promise…and so sorry to hear of your dire situation, but will consider the matter closed… and don’t want to hear from you again.” A letter dripping with sarcasm.
Hello? Wasn’t this a gift to us, a donation? Or was it something for her to write off on taxes? Can the rich ever understand the poor? Who does this when someone has lost their home? A fire burned within me. Words swirling, wanting to attack. My dear husband had to help me hold my tongue and keep my hands off the keyboard. What I’d wished to say played in my mind like an annoying rap tune.
Not by works
So that no one can boast.
In my own strength, I failed. Bitterness wrapped its ugly fingers around my heart and held tight. Every time I opened the Bible to read, the word forgiveness leaped off the page in neon yellow. Sometimes, literally, from a highlighted passage. The problem was not wanting to forgive. Like Jonah not wanting to see the Ninevites forgiven, I didn’t want to let her off the hook for her cruel words. The only person suffering in this hatred seemed to be me. But I still wouldn’t let go. It didn’t help that she never apologized, never came to see us after the storm. So how long could I hold onto this?
For we are God’s workmanship,
Created in Christ Jesus to do good works,
Which God prepared in advance for us to do.
Why do words slice our soul so deep? I wished I had been punched, had a bit of a brawl and got it over with. A few bruises would fade in days. The torment in my mind over two sentences has been so much worse to endure.
Cast your cares on the Lord
And He will sustain you…
I must forgive.
I must love.
I must remember it is by grace I am saved. He loved me when I was unlovable. My heart was cruel to him, yet He forgave me. The more I let God rip this bitterness from my soul, the happier I’ll be.
Colossians 3:13; Ephesians 2:8-10; Psalm 55:22
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