IT IS FINISHED
After just recovering from pneumonia, I come back to the real world to be smacked up-side the head with many new issues: water pipes breaking, insurance issues, and an additional “to do” list that I can’t even look at right now.
I need a break.
Hiatus-a gap or a break (Webster’s)
Or- a vacation, a time to be still (Me.)
One of my new year’s resolutions was to achieve more balance.
Yet, I have a tendency to plan up my vacations, my breaks and my still time.
With stuffy nose, tired eyes, a multiplicity of “to-do” lists and my last nerve being frayed, I find myself lost in the land of “burn out.” I own the fact that I contributed by my own inability to say “no,” my tendency to not be still and to end up un-balanced, and there it is: One more resolution down the drain!
With planning a wedding and the goals of getting two more books published, all while working at the crime lab, managing rentals and…well, life and relationships, and all of the above– I need a break!
I am taking a hiatus from blogging.
— I will continue posting, but it will be in the form of “guest posts” and re-posts. (AND, you can always find me on Twitter and my Julie Stoddard (Eddy) Facebook.)
After my mom has put her “all” into something and finds her input no longer needed or her portion completed, she throws up her hands and shouts, “DONE!”
I promised God that, as long as He provided words for each post, I would continue to honor that.–Thank you GOD! –for being a faithful provider.
I promised to spend the hours upon hours each week if He would show me at least one person was impacted by those words. –Thank you to each person that proved this in their comments or words spoken to me! And Thank God (again) for moving in people to prove this to me!
God is my constant encourager in a world that tends to beat us down.
For me, this blog has been an incredible and humbling journey of God’s provision and faithfulness.
I set out with a goal of one blog posting a week for an entire year.
–Actually OVER-DONE, but God wasn’t finished, so I continued on in the promises to honor His nudging.
But before I can throw my hands up, I have to cover this one thing.
It’s a biggie.
I’ve danced around this topic in the blogs for over a year, but because it’s so GI-NORMOUS. I’ve avoided it.
I’ve seen health be devastated by it.
I’ve seen marriages destroyed by it.
I’ve seen co-workers estranged by it.
I’ve seen parents and children’s lives forever damaged by it.
It’s touched my life in very deep ways.
So many great musicians sing about it–
“It’s anger’s own worst enemy”-Matthew West
10th Ave North-“Maybe there’s something I missed But how could they treat me like this? It’s wearing out my heart The way they disregard”
“’Cause we all make mistakes sometimes And we’ve all stepped across that line But nothing’s sweeter than the day we find…” (Toby Mac)
“It’s the hardest thing to give away And the last thing on your mind today It always goes to those that don’t deserve It’s the opposite of how you feel When the pain they caused is just too real It takes everything you have just to say the word…”–Matthew West
And the great Don Henley gets right to the “heart of the matter”:
“The more I know, the less I understand All the things I thought I knew, I’m learning again I’ve been tryin’ to get down to the Heart of the Matter But my will gets weak And my thoughts seem to scatter But I think it’s about…”
“Un-forgiveness is like drinking poison and expecting the other person to die.” –St. Augustine
Harboring un-forgiveness is deadly.
“Girl, you really did it this time.” It’s that nasty voice in my head hissing at me. “This is huge.”
I can almost see the smug smile on his face.
“How can you call yourself a Christian?” He taunts.
This enemy knows the arrows that pierce the worst.
He is now nodding with arms folded across his chest, “What will the ladies in your Bible study say?”
Me–“Nothing. Because I’ll never tell them! This is too HUGE. I can’t. I can’t believe I did this. This same sin that tangled me up before I was a Christian. This is huge. I would rather die than tell them this. –I’ve been a believer for years… and I still couldn’t stop myself. I seriously want to die.”
“Yep,” he hisses his acknowledgement, “You are unforgiveable.”
And I contemplated it: deeply. Pills? Gunshot? Alcohol? How could I get out of this? All the while, the enemy to my soul was prodding me along.
My thoughts landed on the scene from the movie “The Passion” as Judas, who betrayed Jesus with a kiss, horrified and steeped in his sin, committed suicide. That death was what I earned.
“That’s it! A noose is what I deserve. I am a betrayer of what Jesus had begun in me.”
I breathed a sigh of relief. This pain would end so easily. I was resolved.
But then something happened. The hissing words of the enemy stopped.
All was still.
Through my tears and agonized breathing, I heard a soft whisper, “But look at me.”
I looked up and around. Where was that coming from? In my mind’s eye, I saw it — the bloodied face of Jesus. His face scarred by the crown of thorns, his battered body hanging from the cross. His sad, piercing eyes rose to mine.
They say the greatest distance traveled is from your mind to your heart—measurably about 1 foot from head to chest, but for an idea to travel from the brain and find its way into your heart—immeasurably far.
A different whisper now, “I did this for you. I paid for your sins past, present and future. It is finished. I’ve already forgiven you.”
I’d read lots about forgiveness; but to see it face to face; to feel His undeserved sacrifice after what I had done.
It was easier before I was a Christian; easier to discuss those nice ideas of grace and mercy, and then to go about your business. But as a Christian, holding yourself to a different standard, and being held by the world to a different standard, and still screwing up.
“But what about the ladies in bible study?” I asked Him.
“You’ve already experienced their unconditional love for you. They love as I do, they forgive as I do.”
“But what I’ve done is…” I hang my head. My thoughts return to nooses, to ending it, to a way out of the pain, “…it’s unforgivable.”
“I know you.” The whispered words convicted me. In a flash of a moment, I understood He saw every moment of my entire life.
“I know your heart. This is part of it all. I am not finished with you.” That gentle whisper again. “I will continue to work out this good thing in you that I have started. But you must understand that you are pre-paid. Look at me.”
When I looked I saw–
I saw hands pierced for me. I saw a mocking crown worn for me. I saw unspeakable pain and death that my sin deserved. My earned sin was redeemed by this: His crucifixion. And I saw the grace and mercy that flowed from the cross. As my eyes traveled the distance from one nail to the other nail across his outstretched arms, that idea of grace suddenly traveled the greatest distance–instantly.
I became newly aware of the beauty flowing from the symbol I hang from my neck. Bloody, battered, betrayed love extending and enveloping me right there, crouched on my living room floor.
“I see how you forgive me. You are Jesus, you are God…But…” the hiss of my doubts began to rise.
The kind whisper again, “You must forgive yourself as I forgive you.”
“But…how?” My shame, insecurities, doubts and questions up-rise in me like lava.
Continuing on this life journey unfolded like a deep dark chasm before me, I wavered…
“You cannot do this alone. It is my example to you and my power in you that will enable you to accomplish this. And I will never leave you.”
Suddenly, the chasm of my circumstances was bridged with His mercy. His forgiveness and faithfulness lifted me up and across the doubts as I was flooded with a new resolve and a new freedom.
So many of us live in the belief of our salvation, but are still chained in bondage and not living in the freedom of our forgiveness.
Then Peter came to Him and said, “Lord, how often shall my brother sin against me, and I forgive him? Up to seven times?”
Jesus said to him, “I do not say to you, up to seven times, but up to seventy times seven.”—Matthew 18:21
We are to forgive continually; even when it comes to forgiving yourself.
“Most certainly I tell you, whatever things you bind on earth will have been bound in heaven, and whatever things you release on earth will have been released in heaven.” Matthew 18:18 (WEB version)
Forgiveness brings life to the forgiver. Sometimes the effects are not realized in the world, but are undoubtedly recognized for ever after.
And it’s now about how many times you fall; because we are all going to fall. And it’s not about just getting up, because I see now that is the only choice. I believe it’s what you do when you get up that makes all the difference.
So, as I arise from my knees, what to do about this forgiveness thing?
“Forgiveness does not change the past, but it does enlarge the future.” ~Paul Boese
I realize it isn’t easy. But if I am going to do this life thing, I want a future—and not one steeped in shame and cowering in a corner. I want a future filled with freedom and abundant life!
Remembering the image of Jesus and what he already accomplished for us gives me the visual I need to do this.–I think this is part of what it means to “take up the cross daily.” (Luke 9:23) Then He said to them all, “If anyone desires to come after Me, let him deny himself, and take up his cross daily, and follow Me.” It’s difficult and burdensome and it requires a rigorous, daily commitment to focus and carry it out. I find myself continually forgiving myself for my past mistakes, yet that effort has kept me from making the same mistakes again (most of the time!;) I live aware of my human tendencies and realize my need to depend on God for this. I now also live free in God’s grace and try to spread that around to a world that is severely lacking in this area.
There is a fantastic self-help book out there that will help you along your journey—The Bible.
Forgive as I have forgiven you-(Matthew 6:12)
I will never leave you or forsake you-(Joshua 1:5)
Christ’s power made perfect in our weakness-(2 Corinthians 12:9)
Start with something simple—like forgiving that guy in traffic for cutting you off, or that teenager, with his pants drooping down and underwear hanging out, in the “Express Lane” of the store with 29 things.
Tuck away the knowledge that Christ’s power in you will allow this to occur. Then, when you are in the hang of it, move up to forgiving a neighbor who called the cops on your birthday party, or maybe a co-worker who took all the credit for that project you worked on tirelessly.
Continue on, keeping your eyes on Jesus,—forgive your parent or a sibling who hurt you in senseless ways. Or, find forgiveness for your child who you sacrifice so much for, for whom you would give your life for, but who endlessly hurts you with their words or ingratitude.
And, once you have daily walked this burden of taking up the cross, achieving levels and depths in knowledge and in the power of forgiveness…take the longest journey and tackle that big one—
“I can do all things through Christ who gives me strength.” (Phil 3:14)
I say it again–
Forgive, Forgive, And FORGIVE. And then forgive, forgive, forgive, forgive….
Live in the freedom of forgiveness, paid by Jesus once and for all at the cross. Extend forgiveness to others, just as it was extended to you. And be gentle to your spirit; always forgiving yourself.
It is, indeed, FINISHED.
And now, I can raise my hands up to heaven and shout it out, like my mom, “I am SO DONE!”