By Arla Speer
“My favorite thing about God...No matter what wounds you have, no matter what pain you've endured, God will heal you!!” A young child wrote this and drew the picture of a badly torn heart with a puddle of blood beneath it.
I was well aware of my brokenness but not so much of how it had grieved Him over the years. Ephesians 2:6 tells us that we are seated with Christ in the heavenlies. From there, we get a much different perspective.
God brought something to my attention from many years before. He decided it was time to deal with it for real. Over the course of several months, I wrestled with God, saw things from His perspective, struggled with what He was asking of me, and discovered that I really did not trust Him.
I began to see His love and His pain because of His love for me. It was comforting, yet agonizing at the same time.
The only thing I knew from the beginning, was that this particular journey would be the hardest thing I had ever walked out. I was serious and left no back way out. I did not want to deal with this again. I also knew I would not be able to walk this out alone and strategically picked two friends to walk beside me. They were committed and were quick to hear and very slow to speak.
It was not the path I would have taken by choice. I had no idea how it would turn out, what it would cost me, nor when it would be finished or even what He had planned for me after it was done. What would I become? What was He preparing me for? What would that look like?
It would have been nice to know, just as a carrot to dangle in front of me for motivation. But, that was not His way - not this time.
This time He was focusing on trust. I soon discovered His definition of trust was radically different from mine. I had backed my definition off to seeing just one step beyond where I was at - that felt only a little comfortable. His definition did not include that extra step of sight. His definition was not seeing anything yet taking His hand and walking.
My comfort had no bearing on where He was taking me. He was out to kill more of the Adam inside of me. I had been praying that the effects of Christ in me would become more evident every day. It wasn't easy. It wasn't fun. And it certainly wasn't comfortable! It was death.
Did I ever want to rescind my noble prayer? No. My one hope, my one reward was the resurrection on the other side of this death where Christ truly became more evident in me.
This time I needed to give up my rights to all I had held so dear to me for so long. My right to hold on to the hurt. My right to hide it in a deep, dark corner of my heart. And my right to judge the offender. This was more than a scratched knee. This was much deeper. There was so much pain and resentment. I thought I had hidden it so well over the years but when it started to come out, others would say, "That explains a lot". When the journey seemed too hard, both friends reminded me "wounds have to be exposed in order to really be healed" and that "lancing a boil is painful, but an untreated boil can kill you."
Time had not healed this wound. Time had caused it to fester terribly.
I took many walks with Jesus where we had open conversations about the journey He was taking me on. It usually went something like, "I don't understand . . .” or "But why/how . . ." to which He would simply reply, "Trust Me". When language seemed inadequate, I asked for eyes to see. He was not afraid to show me both the Adam in me and Christ in me.
In the middle of all this, or maybe much more true, because of all of this, I decided to take a trip to the place where all the pain began decades before. Two months out, I knew I was supposed to go. I didn't know why and struggled with that for weeks. I thought that maybe it was to clear the air with the offender. I had two questions in mind - why? And who all knew? It just didn't seem right, though.
One morning, God seemed to suddenly want to deal with my heart. I pleaded, "God, don't show me my heart. I don't want to go there. I don't want to see it for what it really is. I know it's ugly. There would be too much pain there. I'm afraid." All the time, I kept hearing, "Child, you're forgiven. Child, you are loved." I knew that not seeing my heart was not an option and when He asks me a question, it's not for Him to discover something. He already knows the answer. It's for me to see my own heart. He shows me my heart when I answer honestly.
I wanted to say, "God, help me to go there. Help me to see my heart." But I really didn't want to. I felt like I almost couldn't even say the words. Yet somehow, I knew I needed to. So, I set it aside knowing God is faithful and He would bring it up again. It was later that very same day that I felt an urgency to see my heart for what it was and allowed my Jesus to begin to heal it.
I needed to feel something more than I had been feeling. I needed to love from a 'pure heart, a clear conscience, and an unpretended faith' (I Tim 1:5). I needed to love the one who offended me.
Four days before I left, He showed me why I was going. That discovery followed a very intensive week of healing for me. That week, He showed me that I cannot produce trust. Trusting Him is a result of knowing that He loves me. I don't need to perform for Him in order for Him to love me. He just loves me without expectation of anything more than what I am.
He also showed me that dead men have no rights.
God wanted me to offer forgiveness to the offender, without asking either of the questions I had in mind. It was to be unconditional. It took a full day to wrap my arms around that one! It was hard enough to form the words between God and me. But the offender? Therein was the defining moment. After all I had walked through to this point, I was not going back. I finally had an understanding of what it was I was supposed to do.
On the day I was to return home, there was a 30-second window. That was all I needed. Forgiveness was sincerely offered. What a feeling of freedom! From the response, I knew God had been working on that end also. On the trip home, God showed me just a little from His perspective - the offender is hurt, wounded, and a child of His.
Seeing God's perspective made for a change of heart in me towards my offender.
I did what I was supposed to do. Now, the ball is on the other side of the court. I am thinking this is not over and the ball will once again return to my side of the court, although I do not know when. That's ok. I don't have to. God knows. And I also discovered, I do trust Him. I really do.
We all have boils. Some are on the surface. Some are in deep, dark hidden places. Where does your trust lie? In the comfort and familiarity of the pain or in Jesus, who loves abundantly?
[If you want to contact Arla, her email address is: firstname.lastname@example.org]