Trust in the LORD always, for the LORD God is the eternal Rock. (Isaiah 26:4)
Does it ever surprise you that out of nowhere you suddenly remember an incident that happened years ago that makes you feel uncomfortable? Perhaps someone did something that hurt you or made you angry. You thought you put the whole thing behind you, but there it is again popping up in your memory, and it still bothers you.
I believe that when that happens, the Holy Spirit is prompting us to forgive someone because we didn’t do it before. We hold on to resentment, anger, bitterness over something that happened so long ago we forgot about it, but the emotions are still impressed deep within our spirits. God wants to clean us up, to heal us of past wounds.
I have learned that whenever I suddenly remember a past event like that to pause and think – did I ever forgive that person? No I did not and that’s why the memory and feelings still persist. So now I forgive without question. There’s no reason to hold onto bad feelings, ever. I think that the more we clean out those bad feelings, but easier it is to hear God.
And that’s not the only reason to forgive. “But if you do not forgive others their sins, your Father will not forgive your sins.” (Matt 6:15) That’s a startling reason to forgive. Jesus told the story of the unmerciful servant (Matt 18:23-35) as a clear teaching on what He expects of us. His blood covers our sin. His blood, tortured from his body. He did that willingly because He loves us so much. If we can’t forgive people after what He did for us, He has every right to not forgive our sins, and we know that the wages of sin leads to death.
Just forgive. It’s not that hard. You just acknowledge you haven’t forgiven that person and do it. Then ask God to forgive you for not doing it sooner. Then be aware of those awkward memories. Ask yourself, do I need to forgive them? Is that why the Holy Spirit is reminding me? Just do it.
Several years ago a church changed their street message board to say “God is not made at you”. Soon after, they were inundated with angry phone calls for some time. Apparently, many people believe that God is mad at them and feel the need to vent, to ask why, to affirm their stance that God is indeed vengeful. Do you wonder, Is God mad at me?
Rest at ease, He is not. How do I know that? I can read it in every book of the Bible. For God so loved the world that He gave His only Son, that whosoever believes in Him should not perish but have eternal live. (John 3:16) A vengeful God does not sacrifice His most precious Son. A loving God does. Why? Because He wants to ensure a way for us to be with Him. Jesus took on the sins of the world, including ours, and covered them with His own blood. All we need to do is accept that gift of sacrifice with humble thanks. His love for us is outrageous and never ending.
But what about the Old Testament God who looks pretty vengeful? God told His people what they needed to do to stay safe within His protection and grace, but over and over again they deserted Him to worship idols. His anger was against their actions, not the people themselves. He repeatedly told them to trust in Him and He would cover them with His mercy. Most of the time, they did not.
Do you believe that God is mad at you because bad things happen to you? Bad things happen to everyone, even when we know how much God loves us. He never said we wouldn’t have problems. He said if we trust Him, He’ll be with us and work things out. It’s the trust part that trips up most people. We don’t know how to take our hands off to let God be in control. Most of the time, we doubt that He will do anything for us. It’s a real test of our faith. If we really believe, if we really trust that God is who He said He is, we can relax and watch Him do what we could not.
Bad things may happen because we’re not even trying to trust Him so we just make stupid decisions. We suffer the consequences of what we got ourselves into. Even then, all we have to do is tell God how sorry we are for what we’ve done and ask His forgiveness. He will always forgive. It’s His nature.
No, God is not mad at you. He loves you very, very much. He’s a great, good God who wants to give you every blessing in heaven. All you have to do is receive it.
“I will give you the treasures of darkness and hidden riches of secret places, that you may know that I, the LORD, who call you by your name, am the God of Israel.” (Isaiah 45:3) This verse has always fascinated me. God must be so amused by how much we think we know about – everything. We know so much and yet so little about the human body, life in the ocean, the expanse of space. We think we know about Him. And yet He has the amazing promise that He would show us treasures and riches that have been hidden just so He could reveal them to us.
God is far more giving and generous than we know, yet the Puritan ethic is that we should not ask anything for ourselves. It is somehow selfish to want to be blessed. I don’t think God sees it that way. I think He wants to bless our socks off. Yes, James does warn us, “When you ask, you do not receive, because you ask with wrong motives, that you may spend what you get on your pleasures.” (James 4:3) It can’t be denied that selfishness can get in the way when what we want means more to us than God Himself.
However, when our priorities are straight, when we love God with all our heart, all our soul, and all our mind (Matthew 22:37), our loving Papa God says, “Ask of Me, and I will give you the nations for Your inheritance, and the ends of the earth for Your possession.” (Psalm 2:8) He wants to bless us. He’s waiting for us to come to Him as loving sons and daughters so He can pour out blessing that only He can provide. But until He can trust us with the treasure, He will wait until we are ready. We must have a generous soul, a heart of humility, a willingness to be corrected. He won’t trust His treasure to babies. He is looking for maturity and faith to trust Him completely in hard times. He is looking for our love and praise that spills from us like a delighted lover. That one can be blessed with the treasures of heaven.
I wonder about these treasures. Knowing that God is magnificently awesome, His treasures will be mind blowing and I want to see them. So I press in. I want to know Him more. I want to hear His voice and see His face. I want every blessing that belongs to me because it shows me how stunning Papa God is. It makes me so excited I could dance.
The simplest prayer is no prayer at all. It is loving and being loved. It is looking into the eyes of the Father while trying to say thank you. You may try, but when his love floods your soul, the best you can do is smile through your tears. No words have to be spoken in a moment like that. The words are necessary for other times, but when you are locked into the heart of God, the best you can do is try to absorb it all. He knows that and it’s OK. In fact, you may go through seasons were all you do is weep when you think of him. It does something inside. I’m not sure what, but I feel it. Sometimes I choose to be wordless with him so I can just sit in his peace. Other times I couldn’t speak if I had to. The loving, the listening, the tears, and the wonder – it’s all prayer and it all matters.