By: Chelsea Swain
Forgiveness. You can pray for it. You can yearn for it. You can seek it. But how do you know that you have truly forgiven someone with all of your heart? It is not something that can be done simply with words. It is something that must be a spiritual work done in your heart with the help of God.
We all know that wounds do not often heal overnight, and some wounds are certainly deeper than others. These take time and need proper care and attention. Deep wounds, if not cared for properly, could become infected and in turn infect your entire body. Likewise, do not let your unforgiveness infect your whole body and make you bitter. Give it to God. Pray about it, continually, and God will change your heart. In giving our heavenly Father control of our lives and allowing Him to take care of our healing we find that He is willing to help bear even our deepest pains.
For the multitude of sins we have committed, God could have given up on us long ago. Instead, God chose to love us, to wait, to be a gentleman, and forgive us when we turn to Him. If the God of the universe can pardon our sins, how much more should we pardon the sins of others? Ephesians 4:32 instructs us to “Be kind to one another, forgiving one another, just as God in Christ forgave you.” And Romans 12:2 states, “Do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewal of your mind, that by testing you may discern what is the will of God, what is good and acceptable and perfect.”
To be sure that we are seeking spiritual healing and nourishment, we must be connected to the true Vine, Jesus Christ (John 15:5), and through seeking His Kingdom first forgiveness will abound and God will transform your heart and renew your mind so that you can move on to what He has for you. Here are a few reading suggestions to help you stay connected to our Father:
I am a huge fan of Joyce Meyer. I love how her words are so convicting and not condemning, yet also powerful and motivating. In her book Anxious For Nothing she encourages readers to trust fully on God and seek His Kingdom and His will above all else. Meyer reminds us of the sound counsel found in Matthew 6:34, “Do not worry or be anxious about tomorrow, for tomorrow will have worries and anxieties of its own. Sufficient for each day is its own troubles.” This is a familiar passage we often quickly forget.
Another great point Meyer shares is that when we find ourselves in a state of frustration, we are probably trying to do God’s work for Him. As followers of Christ, we need to be spiritually mature and seek Gods will before our own (James 4:15). We do this by staying connected to God through an active prayer life and also through personal communication and fellowship with other believers. When we are patient we will see that God is faithful.
Another book I would recommend is The Meaning of Marriage by Timothy Keller. Whether you are married or single this is an amazing read. Keller states that, “Marriage is not about personal fulfillment. It was created to be a reflection on the human level of our ultimate love relationship and union with the Lord. It is a sign and a foretaste of the future Kingdom of God” (p 14). I love this because so many people today marry with the attitude of “what’s in it for me” and wait in expectancy with a consumeristic mindset.
However, being married for several years now, I think we can all agree that a mindset like this will not lead to a lasting marriage. Keller also discusses how marriage today is idolized in movies and in the media. This “dream marriage” is portrayed so much that people find themselves comparing or seeking that truly false ideal. He says that marriage helps spouses become their future selves through sacrificial service and spiritual friendship (p 151). In addition, Keller focuses on the roles of a husband and a wife and even speaks about the “gift of singleness.” Check out his book for a deeper understanding on marriage and how it affects our walk with the Lord.
Do you ever open up your Bible and feel overwhelmed with what to read? Unsure of where to start? YouVersion.com may be a great resource for you! YouVersion contains the entire Bible in many different versions and it is free. I have it on my Iphone, Nook, and can access it, of course, on my PC. I have access no matter where I am!
Specific reading plans of multiple durations and topics are available. You will find over 144 devotional plans, including Learning Spiritual Discipline, Growing Patience, and Talking with God in Prayer. There are topical Bible plans, partial Bible, whole Bible, youth and family plans. Each day you can have a specific reading from the Bible to help you stay connected with God.
I am currently working on the Bible-in-a-Year Plan and thoroughly enjoying God’s Word and learning more about Him! The Bible is the living Word and it should be a very important part of our daily life.
Another wonderful feature of YouVersion is that if you fall behind on your reading, you do not have to give up on it. You can simply “catch up” to where you currently are and keep on moving forward and seeking God’s face.
Friends, I urge you to stay connected to our Father, Our Creator. Put Him first in your life and seek His Kingdom above all else. I encourage you to enjoy these books and resources and I pray they would help you in your walk with the Lord.
Chelsea Swain is a disciple of Christ. She is married to Steve Swain and they have two beautiful daughters and a baby boy on the way.