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With God, forgiveness is possible
By Dean Smith
Live to Forgive Ministries
In 1986, my mother was murdered by my stepfather Bob, in the home they were renting near the fairgrounds in Enumclaw. I was a sixth-grader in Mrs. Hirschel’s class at Southwood Elementary School.
After the murder, my sisters and I were allowed to visit our house. I saw the blood all over the walls, floor and ceiling. The images of my mother’s murder fueled my bitterness and resentment and kept me bound in a web of inner turmoil and hatred.
Whenever I pictured that bloody scene or the face of the man who did it, I became irate. Was I the only one who rehearsed the offense of my transgressor repeatedly in my mind? Was I the only person in town who wouldn’t forgive a sin committed against me?
I want the world to know how God helped shift my focus from my mom’s blood to his love and how that shift has set me free.
For years, I thought forgiving my former stepfather was impossible. It wasn’t even fair that I should have to forgive him. The only problem was that my bitterness sneakily poisoned all my relationships and kept me from experiencing life as God wanted me to experience it. I tried everything except the thing that was the most crucial for me and most important to God: forgiveness.
I didn’t want to choose forgiveness. I avoided that inner tension by turning to drugs and alcohol. I was married and then divorced. I played professional basketball in Germany and traveled all over Europe. Life was a string of ups and downs, but on the inside I was continuously tormented by my resentment.
In 1999, I talked to God about my bitterness and I asked him for help to forgive Bob. I knew I couldn’t forgive him without God’s help. When I did my part by surrendering my unforgiveness to God (daily), he did his part and transformed my heart and mind. It didn’t happen overnight, but it did happen over time.
I began to think thoughts of love toward Bob that I never imagined were possible. Instead of seeing a murderer responsible for my mom’s death, I began to see Bob as God does; loved and cherished. Eventually, I called Bob on the phone and we became friends. I flew to Tennessee in 1998, where he was living, to help him after he attempted suicide. I love Bob now and I want him to experience the love and freedom I have found in Jesus. All things are possible with God.
If you have unforgiveness in your life, you are living with only a portion of the joy, peace and love that God has intended for you. How do I know? My personal experience, the word of God, and thousands of people around the world who have shared with me their stories of forgiveness.
There has been nothing that has changed my life more dramatically (for the better) than surrendering my bitterness to God on a daily basis. You might be thinking, “But, I can’t forgive and you just don’t understand my situation.” I don’t know your situation, but I do know about God’s power to help people triumph over any tragedy.
The most prevalent theme in the New Testament is love and forgiveness. He definitely didn’t command us to forgive and not give us the ability to do it. We have the ability to forgive anyone for anything, but we have to rely on God to give us that power. It comes down to a choice. It comes down to a personal relationship with Jesus Christ.
I finally came to the revelation that forgiveness was the gateway to experiencing the best life God has for me. Through his love, my focus was redirected from my mom’s tragedy to his awesome grace. I have never been the same. He can help you be free from the pain in your life, too. You can start on the road to a newfound freedom right now. Put this paper down, close your eyes and get honest with God about the “Bobs” in your life. He’s waiting to help you forgive those who have hurt you. He’s waiting to set you free. And he will. Go!
Dean Smith is the director of Live To Forgive Ministries and teaches about forgiveness and love in churches around the world. He attends The Vine Christian Ministries in Seattle with his wife Molly and daughter Ava. Learn more at: www.livetoforgive.com.