The Scar Chapter 3

After a while of lying on her bed, she now stared over the edge of her pillow until her Mom came in the room. She immediately felt like her Mom could not help her, so she stiffened.

Her Mom sat on the edge of her bed next to her daughter, and like nursing a wilted sapling she stroked her daughter’s back.

“I’m so sorry, honey. I know it hurt terribly what your father did to you.”

She said nothing.

“We both been trying so hard to protect you, and he went too far.”

“Yeah, well he’ll never want to protect me again.” She said bitterly.

“Why?” asked the mother.

“Because I broke his mold around my hand. I know he felt it. He’ll never forgive me for causing him that kind of pain.”

“Oh, I think you don’t understand your father at all.”

“And you do?” shot back the daughter and hugged her pillow and turned her back toward her mother.

The mother lay down on the bed beside her and reached her arms around her jagged daughter.

“Your father does love his creations. But there’s no creation He loves more than his child. He feels like he has hurt you so badly that you can never forgive him.”

The daughter was surprised at this. “Do you think he would forgive me?”

“I know He already has.” She said. “And if there’s anything I have learned about your father being married to him, he is usually willing to admit when he’s wrong. It just might take him some time to see it. Now, if you want things with your Dad to be fixed, I am going to tell you what you need to do.”

Meanwhile, the dad had called the ambulance to come pick up the man at his house, and the man had just left on his way to getting some help in the hospital. Inside though, his heart was like an iron ship that had been sunk. He knew his daughter was hurt more than her hand. Her heart was in her hand. . . and he had burned it. How could she ever trust him again? He worried that maybe he would hurt her worse with an apology, as if it would take away the meaning of what she had suffered. But he also knew that he was wrong, so he got up and walked toward Zoe’s door, when suddenly, he stopped.

The doorknob slowly turned, and Zoe stepped into the living room toward her father. Her hand was badly burned still. Slowly and with a slight shudder she walked up to her father and slowly lifted her eyes to look into his face. The father was mystified. Her daughter was not angry. The look in her eyes was more unbearably breaking. Her eyes were full of trust.

She reached out both her hands toward him and said, “Papa, I know you love me. If you want to rockify my hands again so that I never heal another wound, I offer them to you. I promise I won’t break the rock again.

At this, her father sank to his knees. He held out his hand to take her unburned hand. She gingerly held it out, hoping that he would not encase it in rock, but still trusting him. When he took her hand he gestured to her to kneel with him on the floor. She did.

With difficulty he got the ability to speak again. “With your confidence in my love and your trust of my goodness, you have overcome me, my amazing Zoe.”

He took her into his arms and embraced her, and she cried as they squeezed one another. He released his grip to look her in her eyes, and he said, “I do love you, and I confess I was so wrong to hurt you and to hinder you as I did. Your heavenly Father gave you this gift, and I was a wretched fool to use my gift to keep you limited to the life that made sense to me.”

Then he clasped the burned hand that was still balled up into a fist in his two hands and said, “By the grace of God who gives gifts to mankind, I will not hinder His work in you. I will never rockify your hands again. Will you please forgive me for hurting you so badly?”

Zoe nodded, a bit unsure of what this could mean for her if her father was going to loosen restrictions upon her and her gift. Did this mean he would not protect her anymore? Did he not love her anymore?

The father smiled as if he could sense her nervousness, and said “I will go to God for how best to protect you from now on, instead of trying to do it on my own. I ask that you please trust me keep doing this for a little while longer.”

She nodded, “I will try, Papa.”

“It’s going to be hard. I don’t intend to, but one day I will fail you again. I have much selfishness in me. But when I fail to love you rightly as a father should, I have a way that should make easier on you.”

She nodded, “Yes, sir?”

“When I fail you, I need you to go to your Heavenly Father, who loves you more than I ever could, and seek His healing from the wounds that come from me.”

She shuddered, “How do I go to Him?”

“Open your hand.”

“What?” She said confused.

“Invite God into the wound and wait on Him, counting on His love, and let Him speak life into you.”

“What if He doesn’t?” said Zoe her hand still clenched.

“He will. You will find Him when you seek for Him with all your heart, especially the broken pieces. And His love is the only fire that can bring all the broken pieces together and give it back to you whole again.”

“To a Mature Man”: Stage 8–Persecution

My dear brother,

Jesus as the Example

Jesus, born human, temple-taught, baptized in Holy Spirit, empowered by the Spirit, on a mission, advancing the kingdom, and calling man to return to God’s Justice– this man was betrayed by his friend, abandoned by his followers, beaten, mocked, accused of evil, struck with rods, whipped near to death, un-protected by the justice of man, driven, stripped naked, nailed to a cross, and hung there in agony upon agony for hours, until he gave up his spirit and died. All of this and more is what I mean by persecution. When he did however, he showed how to respond to our persecutors: Trust in God, and Forgive your persecutors.

Assurance

– – Paul told Timothy, his true child in the faith, “Indeed, all who desire to live godly in Christ Jesus will be persecuted.” He could say this with assurance because of what Jesus told his disciples in John 15:18-21:

“If the world hates you, you know that it has hated Me before it hated you. If you were of the world, the world would love its own; but because you are not of the world, but I chose you out of the world, because of this the world hates you. Remember the word that I said to you, ‘A slave is not greater than his master.’ If they persecuted Me, they will also persecute you; if they kept My word, they will keep yours also.“But all these things they will do to you for My name’s sake, because they do not know the One who sent Me.”

We know that this is the road on which all Christians are heading. It is why we are carrying a cross on our back, so that our persecutors won’t need to find a cross to do away with us.

According to the unsealed scroll of the Lamb in Revelation, beautifully demonstrated in the Bible Project’s first Read Scripture video on Revelation, the persecution of Christians, and the vindication of them by God is the one thing that brings the nations to repentance. God’s judgment alone does not bring about repentance, but further hardens people’s hearts in rebellion against God. It is when people see the saints imitating the sacrifice of Jesus Christ on the Cross that they see the character of God and are either damned or redeemed. This is the message of the cross that is so offensive to the world, and so saving to those of us who know Him.

Jesus knew humanity better than anyone else, and he knew the Scriptures give insight into humanity better than anything else, and because of this, he knew persecution was inevitable. And so, he called the believer to be equipped for it. “If anyone seeks to come after me, he must deny himself, take up his cross and follow me.” So often you have heard people talk about denying themselves and picking up their cross, but really few Christians in our circles do. This means a lot more than going through a hard time.

Some Problematic Ideologies

I have heard some believers say this to me, and some might even be saying it in their heads now as they read: “I knew it! The only way the church can be woken up is to be persecuted. We need some persecution in order for there to be a revival.” This is wrongly ordered. The Church does NOT need to be persecuted to be awakened. The church needs to be awakened in order to be persecuted. How’s that for a motivation for Revival Church meetings? Do you want another Pentecost now?

Many other Christians have come to faith being told that Jesus went to the cross so that they don’t have to. A gross misinformation. I hope you were not brought to Christ with that non-sense bargain. Jesus went to the cross to show how much God loved you, and show you how much to love your neighbor. If you’re not ready to give your life (either by living or by dying) for your friend, can you rightly say that Christ is living in you? “And if anyone does not have the Spirit of Christ, he does not belong to him.” ~Romans 8

Many Christians cannot bear the thought of this stage, because they have not passed the other stages. They are already fallen into pitfalls content to merely pursue spirituality, or stay babes in tradition, or use their regeneration as license to sin, or compromise with the Evil One, or seek the approval of men, or do all for a worldly end, or appease the evil rulers who wish to shut them up. But for those who will do none of these things, persecution is the only way that the world can shut up the truth– by killing the messenger.

And finally there are those who may mistake this exhortation for a call to seek out persecution. Nope. Jesus in Matthew 10 instructs his disciples,

“Whenever they persecute you in one city, flee to the next; for truly I say to you, you will not finish going through the cities of Israel until the Son of Man comes.”

Jesus avoided people who were trying to kill him until his time had come, but when it came, he showed us how we are to behave in this stage.

As you would face persecution I would encourage you to read and reread 1 Peter, and Matthew 10 gives all the instructions needed, especially vs 16-32, but there are more applications fruitful to consider in light of other passages.

Application and Pitfall

  1. Arm yourself with this purpose: to suffer for Christ. Keep yourself ready at any moment to be given up as an offering to God, by denying yourself and daily laying everything down. Peter exhorts the church in 1 Peter 4:1-2 to do the same. “Since Christ has suffered in the flesh, arm yourselves also with the same purpose, because he who has suffered in the flesh has ceased from sin, so as to live the rest of the time in the flesh no longer for the lusts of men, but for the will of God.”~1 Peter 4:1-2.
  2. Don’t die til Golgotha. Jesus had a specific place and time to give his life. So, I tell you, don’t lay it down sooner than the place God has for you. Jesus eluded people’s grasp when they tried to seize him. (John 10:39)
  3. Entrust yourself to God. Peter wrote of Jesus that “while suffering, He uttered no threats, but kept entrusting Himself to Him who judges righteously. “1 Peter 2:23. Dear Christian brother, this will be your ultimate test of faith. Trust Him. He is good, and there is more going on than you can see.
  4. Avoid the pitfall of Apostasy. Do not deny Christ when your life is on the line. Remember what Jesus said, “The one who endures to the end will be saved.” Matthew 10:22. Do not think you have suffered enough. Jesus suffered to the end. Don’t give up. There is more of his love to show that the persecutors need to see. When you have no more love, remember that it is God’s love that is your reservoir. He will give you what you need.
  5. Forgive your persecutors. Jesus didn’t just tell us to forgive others, he showed us at the darkest moment of his life what it means to forgive others. On the Cross, he cried out, “Father forgive them. They known not what they do.” Stephen when he was stoned, said, “Lord do not count this sin against them.” This is supernatural love.
  6. Testify. If you have a chance to share the gospel with your persecutors before you give your life, let the Holy Spirit bring the words that they need to hear.
  7. Rejoice! In Foxe’s Book of Martyrs, there are recorded the brightest flashes of holy joy on the faces of those who paid the ultimate price as Jesus did. Do not be afraid. You are entering into the glorious resurrection of Jesus Christ! Rejoice! The world will see Heaven’s reflection on your face, just like Stephen’s!

Final Thought: There are countless brothers and sisters being persecuted right now. These brothers and sisters make up the body of Christ. With real blood they are suffering real pain. And when people forget how much God loves them, the persecuted and the martyrs remind us: Jesus’s body still bleeds for the world.

The Cost of Forgiveness

 I see children almost daily who need to say they are sorry for their transgressions, but it is usually the kind of little things that need to be let go. I’ve taught them that when someone is mean to them, you can show them kindness as a way to get over what happened, especially if they already got their consequence. These are two levels of what we call “Forgiveness.”

Level 1, is for the little stuff, just “let it go!” “It’s okay.” is another way of saying this.

Level 2, is for the stuff that people do against you and get the consequences for: instead of rubbing it in their faces, you show them the kindness of your face that says, “I still wanna be your friend.” “I forgive you.” is a good way of saying this. This forgiveness is quite powerful at restoring relationships.

Level 3 is hard. Level 3 is the forgiveness we extend to people who we can’t let it go what they did, and we also haven’t seen them get their consequences yet. It’s also the level that is meant for the one who is not sorry or has not voiced it. Level 3 forgiveness is costly, and also very difficult.

An example of this forgiveness can hopefully be seen in this example about two boys: One summer, A boy was riding on his bicycle down a wooded path, and he took a turn toward a crowd of kids. All the kids got out of the way except one, who stood his ground. The biking kid swerved to miss him and hit a tree. The bike was seriously damaged, but the kid riding it was unhurt. Nevertheless, he was furious. He picked up his bike over to the kid who had stood in his way and threw it on top of the kid, knocking him to the ground. The other kids called out, “Fight, fight! and made a circle. The riding kid stood waiting for the kid to get back up and fight. But the kid under the bike looked back at him and looked around at the other boys calling for blood. The boy got up with the bike the wheel was bent so that it could not rotate. He looked at the bike and he looked at the boy who owned it. With a sigh, he started dragging the bike toward the circle of surrounding kids. But when he got to them, he picked up the bike and carried it on his shoulder with one wheel in front and one wheel in back. The boys said, “Where are you going?”

– – “I’m going to get it fixed,” he said. The crowd of kids parted and stared at him. “Is that his bike?” one kid asked. “No.” said another kid. The boy who owned the bike was confused. He wondered if he was ever going to get that bike back. Or if he would get in trouble for almost hitting the boy, or throwing the bike at him.

– – A week later there was a knock at the door of the kid who owned the bike, and when he opened the door, there on the porch was his now-fixed bike. It looked brand new!

This story isn’t true that I know of, but I hope it shows the point I’m trying to get across. The third level of forgiveness was shown by the kid who stood his ground, who picked up the boy’s bike, carried it, and gave it back to him fixed. The key idea in this level of forgiveness is the word carry. It is when a person who is wronged doesn’t take vengeance for himself, but accepts the wrong being done, and himself or herself carries the problem of the one who wronged him because he loves the one who wronged.

Level 3 forgiveness can be found in the Hebrew Word, Nassa. It means “to forgive,” or “to carry” or “to lift” depending on the context. This deep level of forgiveness that carries the wrong of the one who commits the wrong, is a character quality that God uses to describe himself in the Old Testament. ”

Exodus 34:6-7–“Then the Lord passed by in front of him and proclaimed, “The LORD, the LORD God, compassionate and gracious, slow to anger, and abounding in lovingkindness and truth; who keeps lovingkindness for thousands, who forgives iniquity, transgression and sin; yet He will by no means leave the guilty unpunished, visiting the iniquity of fathers on the children and on the grandchildren to the third and fourth generations.”

Yahweh is the God who is not only the just judge who will not leave the guilty unpunished, but he is also the one bearing with, and taking on himself the sins of those people who have wronged him, until the day when their judgment comes. The clearest picture of this I can see, is Jesus carrying the cross, and in that cross the sin of the whole world, so that the sin of all who believe and repent might be forgiven.

Application:

Jesus said, “If anyone seeks to come after me, he must deny himself, take up his cross, and follow me.” I see a God who has shown us the way to forgive, by himself doing it. He bore with those who sin, both knowing that one day there will be a judgment on them if they don’t repent and desiring them to repent so they do not come into judgment. This is Forgiveness level 3. And it is the most beautiful picture of love.

This may seem impossible, especially if you yourself have been in this position of being wronged and remain so unjustly, but the Holy Spirit empowers the one who obey’s Jesus’ command. This is how to do it.

  1. Pray for them. “Pray for those who mistreat you.” Jesus said. This is the secret way God gives supernatural insight into the heart of the one who wronged you. Jesus showed us this, “Father, forgive them, for they know not what they do.” ~Mark 15
  2. Trust God’s justice and timing. “Though he reviled, did not revile in return but entrusted him to the God who judges righteously.”
  3. Work for their benefit. “If your enemy is hungry feed him, and if he is thirsty give him a drink, for in doing so, you will heap burning coals upon his head, and God will reward you.” ~Hebrews 12.

Final thought, remember, “If you do not forgive others their sins, your Father will not forgive your sins.” Matthew 6:15