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“Father, forgive them; they do not know what they are doing.”
Jesus Christ to His Father while being crucified
How sweet the sound, how wonderful the feeling, how great is our God.
Yet truly forgiving people when you have been gravely wronged can seem impossible to do. Sometimes forgiving yourself when you’re the one that did the wrong may be an even harder task.
This might help.
Here’s a story told by a minister’s wife years ago that always stuck with me. Both this gracious lady and her husband have passed on now. I hope you like it.
The minister and his wife went from city to city holding revivals at different churches for most of their lives. They weren’t famous like, say, Billy Graham. I had never heard of them before.
They would do their preaching like all revivals. Afterwards they would always invite people down from the congregation that wanted to seek forgiveness and give their lives to Christ. It’s a fairly common practice among some religions.
One night, in a large city, a really dangerous looking fellow came down. You never know but this guy really appeared to be the “real deal” and they were a little bit leery of him.
He was deeply troubled and wanted forgiveness for his dark past.
The minister’s wife talked with him for a long time after everyone left. But he was unconvinced that he could ever be forgiven of his sins. He felt they were just too great. She couldn’t convince him of God’s infinite mercy no matter how hard she tried.
He thought she was naive and scoffed at her by saying, “You don’t know what I’ve done!”
The minister’s wife persisted. She was sure she had heard it all. How wrong she was.
Finally he blurted out, “You don’t understand! Do you know what I do? I kill people! They tell me who and I shoot’em and leave them on the street to die! Can your God forgive that?”
She was totally shocked and out of her league by this revelation.
This woman gathered herself up and said, “Yes. He can. If you want to be forgiven!”
The killer had thought she would just run from him but she didn’t.
They stayed and prayed together. Finally, it was as if the Holy Spirit came flowing out of him with such joyful power that he couldn’t contain himself. It was a miracle. He truly felt forgiven.
She told him that they would help him get out of this life he was living.
He refused her help.
He walked out of the place saying he was going to go back to these people he killed for and tell them he was quitting.
Now it was her turn to think he was dangerously naive. How do you tell people like this that you’re going to “quit” murdering for them?
She begged him not to do this. But he left anyway with this overpowering joy in his heart saying that he knew he was forgiven.
He wasn’t naive though. He knew what he was doing. He went back to where he came from with his message.
The gang he belonged to chained him to the back bumper of a car and dragged him through the streets. Then they just dumped him on the road.
The minister and his wife searched the town to find him. He had been brought into a hospital. He was torn up almost beyond recognition from head to toe.
You know what was strange?
He looked up at them with nothing but that same pure joy in his heart they had left him with the other night. He said he didn’t care about his body because he was forgiven. He died a few days later.
Satan lost a soul that day. I’m sure that howls of anguish echoed off the outer reaches of hell while heaven rejoiced over a lost soul who was now found.
You see, forgiving has incredible healing power because it comes from God. Hatred does nothing but destroy and comes from the devil.
If God forgave this man, can you not do the same?
Take care my friend.