Nearly twenty years ago a dear friend was going through a very difficult time emotionally and in her marriage. Because of our close relationship I became too heavily involved. It was one of the most gut-wrenching experiences of my life. People that I loved were soon to be people who were broken and hurting and our friendship would be on life support.
Last night while I was reading One Divine Moment by Robert E. Coleman about the revival in 1970 at Asbury College in Wilmore, Kentucky I read one sentence of a students account of events in Hughes Auditorium. It was a simple entry made by a student while he was journaling the event. He wrote, “A girl is witnessing to the truth that God has touched her eyes, and now she sees people as they really are.” What this young man was attempting to communicate was that she was not so judgmental of people but she saw them through God’s eyes for the first time.
That reminded me of how God brought healing to my heart after I took on an offense which was something I should have never done. When my friend’s marriage was near death and our friendship hanging by a thread I took on an offense. I began to harbor great dislike for the husband that bordered on hate. I found that over a period of approximately twelve years my heart could not see a way to forgive him. I felt the burden of the marriage issues lay at his feet and I began to see him through my anger not the love of God.
Over those many years the wife and I made attempts to maintain our friendship but it was a struggle. I would have done absolutely anything for her but to bear the burden of an offended spirit was not God’s will. It was a horrible choice on my part and it put my heart on life support due to the heart damage done by carrying that horrible offense for all those years.
I am sure you are asking how can you be a mature Christian and walk around on a daily basis with such spiritual heart damage? Truthfully, there are many Christians who walk around everyday suffering from similar heart damage. They want to change but it seems the steps they take to bring change are superficial at best. It is like giving someone an aspirin when they need open heart surgery.
I would verbalize words of forgiveness when I would pray over this period of twelve years but my heart was still on life support. I sometimes felt like I was in torment. I wanted to see this man in a different way but it was not happening. But then there was one divine moment!
There was a marriage retreat that our church was hosting at Paris Landing State Park. We made plans to go. This retreat was a divine set up just for me. See, our friends marriage was resurrected from the verge of death and they were one of the couples teaching at the retreat. It was a short three-day retreat. On our final session on Sunday morning they shared their story of healing. It was extremely emotional. There was a particular moment when the husband began to share his story of how God changed his heart and my eyes caught the eyes of his wife….my dearest friend….and I broke! I wept like a little baby. God pulled open the curtain and I saw his heart. I saw a man deeply humble and deeply repentant over his failures in his marriage. I saw him like God sees him. I also saw two people standing as one after many years of brokenness. It is never easy to have a good marriage when you have two broken people trying to have a healthy marriage. But then when God brings breakthrough healing can begin.
Breakthrough also began that day for me. As soon as the session was over and we were dismissed I walked up to my friends and repented for my offense and asked for forgiveness. I felt like a boulder has been removed from my shoulders. I felt my heart breathe again and I felt God’s love for my friend’s husband for the first time since 1998. God did in a moment by His Holy Spirit what I had struggled to do on my own for years. I was free again.
Mark 7:20-23 says this, “And then he added, “It is what comes from inside that defiles you. For from within, out of a person’s heart, come evil thoughts, sexual immorality, theft, murder, adultery, greed, wickedness, deceit, lustful desires, envy, slander, pride, and foolishness. All these vile things come from within; they are what defile you.” It was the anger that grew into a giant boulder in my heart that was the problem. It was not what they did it was what I did. The offense I carried had damaged my heart. I needed a miracle. God did heart surgery in one moment in time and I was whole. They were whole. We are whole!
Today our relationship is restored and we have the pleasure of their friendship. I have suffered hurt from the hands of others, most likely so have you, but taking on an offense and harboring it for years was on me. It was my fault and mine alone. I am grateful for a loving Father, forgiving friends and one divine moment!
Living by the brook,