If you came over from Encouragement for Today, I’m so glad you joined us today. You’ve landed smack in the middle of our second week of The Unburdened Heart: Finding the Freedom of Forgiveness study. Why don’t you hang out with us today? Or better yet, check out last week’s study, and sign up for the next few weeks. It’s totally free.
Today’s devo shared a time that others came alongside me as a young believer and walked with me in my faith, prayed with me, and loved me. Today, I love nothing more than seeing someone find freedom as they discover the power of transformation, with God’s help.
On Monday we looked at one step we can take. We can shift the focus from our exterior needs (the obvious symptoms or those everyone else sees) to the interior.
In a sense, we begin by surrendering our thoughts, our feelings, and our woundedness to God. It’s just one step, but. . .
Surrendering to God means you are no longer stuck.
You haven’t come the whole way. There are challenges ahead.
It doesn’t mean that there won’t be times when it is is painful. But you are moving forward. One little step one day. One huge step the next. Perhaps you are surprised one day when you encounter a person, a place, and those old feelings fail to rise to the surface.
That’s faith! That’s growth!
As I wrote this book I invited five women in all stages of forgiving to join me and to read through each chapter.
At one point or another it was beautiful to see them come to the point of surrender.
Here’s what three of them wanted to share with you today. This is their journey. Each of them started their journey at different places, but each also had a point of surrender. It won’t be the first, but it was a step forward.
When Suzie first asked if a group of people would join her while she wrote her latest book, I volunteered right away.
It dealt with a subject that I had been struggling with for a while. It seemed life just kept handing me disappointments that even though I have been a Christian for many years, I was having trouble forgetting. I had been in prayer alot asking God to remove the hard stone of unforgiveness and offense that was building in me.
Each chapter I read made me dig deeper into myself, and realize that for each situation of unforgiveness I was holding onto, my heart was getting harder and harder.
I think it was chapter four or five that I found myself breaking down in tears. I realized that God was letting me know I was moving closer and closer to the enemy’s camp and that my hardness was blocking my joy. I wasn’t a very good ambassador for Christ. I had to forgive.
Story after story, a tool of sorts was given to help me forgive. It was liberating. Freedom started to come and the burden in my heart started to lift. When I have days where I start to dwell on the past hurts and offenses I will think about this book and how God comes through in its page saying “The thief cometh not, but for to steal, and to kill, and to destroy: I am come that they might have life, and that they might have it more abundantly.” John 10:10.
I want life more abundantly so I choose forgiveness.
FROM SUZIE: Can you see the point of surrender in Janie’s story? Now, share a moment this week that you’ve surrendered, even if it’s a baby step.
Just reading that Suzie’s book is about forgiveness stirred a thousand emotions in me. There’s something inside of me that still needs healing. I had made a lot of progress, but wasn’t done yet.
I hoped that reading The Unburdened Heart, that it would help heal some of those places in me that are still a little (or a lot) raw. Places that still flare up with anger, resentment, or even sadness whenever I think about them.
So I began reading, and I found myself eagerly awaiting each chapter. It was painful, but each time I read and opened my heart the best I could to the Holy Spirit’s speaking to me. I heard His voice. And the things He told me through the words in the book, as well as His own words were beautiful, perfect, and specifically tailored just for me in my situation.
I highlighted meaningful parts in the introduction, and I haven’t stopped since. God has used this book to bring things up that He wants to heal in me; to reveal areas of my own sin; and to minister His perfect comfort to me as only He can.
From Suzie: One woman shared last week that reading the first words in this book caused both dread and excitement. Can you relate? Why do you think we struggle with the idea of forgiving?
This book honestly changed my life. When I started it, I was shackled by bitterness and burdened with a number of hurts. I had become a person I neither recognized nor liked, and though I knew I was heading in the wrong direction, I had no idea how to change.
It helped that someone was willing to share her own hurts and to shine the light of God’s truth on the dark places in my heart. This revealed a hope I had forgotten existed. It opened my eyes to the freedom found in forgiveness and the inherent joy of obedience.
The honest discussions and practical applications of scripture comforted and challenged in equal measure, and helped to tear down barriers I had erected around my heart. It changed my understanding of God’s amazing grace and breathed new life into my relationships. I thank God for this journey.
From Suzie: Sometimes we surrender as scripture becomes clear or fresh. What is one scripture that spoke to you this week?