“How do good men become a part of the regime? They don’t believe in resistance.” – Josh Garrels
Resistance. This is a word I know all too well, thought maybe not in a healthy way. My resistance is comprised of plugging my ears, turning my head, acting the Pharisee who passed the injured man on the road to Jericho. Not so often is my resistance played out as good resisting evil, Truth overcoming lies and deceit. But I’m learning.
So I was looking forward to a meeting of fellow Church attendees and members, in order that I might display my cosmic struggle. This struggle has waged war on my mind, both the spiritual element of good and evil on the stage of my head and heart, as well as the struggle to pay attention, to discern, or to ignore. I wanted to tell this group of potential confidants what discernment means to me. I wanted to tell stories of the seasons when I entertained the proddings, mostly because the seasons of ignoring weren’t so eventful, or at least…interesting.
But NOW!…now I have a different story, a story not of how difficult and seemingly difficult discernment seems to me, but one of clinging to what I know, listening, and obeying…and reaping the eternal and practical, present rewards.
I was reclining (to borrow language from 1 Samuel that I deem more relevant), drifting off into a long night’s rest, when “to my surprise there arose such a clatter, I awoke to see what was the matter”. Ok so it wasn’t quite so dramatic but I did sense a voice, a leading to leave my bed of comfort and open God’s Word. What I found there preached forgiveness…not discernment like I had hoped for. You see, when I obey a voice (not audible, but definitely present), I expect fireworks, a clear and present answer to my felt longings or difficulties. Well, I can’t say the fireworks didn’t happen. In the reading, Jesus told his disciples to forgive your neighbor “not seven times but seventy times seven”. By the way I love how Jesus so strategically employed his Father’s perfect number of 7.
So I prayed, Lord, this is unexpected and seemingly irrelevant to my life at the time. Who do I need to forgive? With my eyes closed, my Lord’s spirit took my mind to a dream I had the night before that just so happened to seem unexplainable to me…til now. Well, the dream contained a friend from childhood who began the dream white and pasty and full of magic, only to finish the dream full of color again, with tricks exposed for smoke and mirrors. “Do I need to forgive this old friend?” I implored. It then became known to me that this friend had introduced me to Nicotine, a drug I struggle with to this day, some 22 years later. So I forgave him in my mind and heart and soul. This was liberating. I began to realize that no longer could I cast blame on this icon of the past, representing the past in general to me. My interactions, upon forgiveness, lost excuses and gained personal responsibility, and what’s more a deeper dependence on my Savior to free me from it. The magic was the hold the feeling of release I thought Nicotine offered me. Well, let me just say what is temporary is certainly not eternal.
The other part of the dream was similar. In it was my ex-wife, in relationship with my old “magic” friend. Well, at the end of the dream I kissed her long and deep, and she turned and left. This was revealed to me as letting her go, the end of blaming her, and blaming myself for how I mistreated her, not to mention liberating her from blame and regret, symbolized by her relationship with my old friend.
Well who knew?! Forgiveness can often liberate the forgiven even more than it does the conscience of the one who forgives!! Look at us miserable sinners, created in the image of the divine, yet with a relationship so marred by our shame and guilt. But He has forgiven us so deeply that we can live in relationship with righteousness and peace, that have kissed! Only let us do as Jesus did, to forgive as He did, that we might experience a fraction of what those feel who are forgiven.