Friday, 28 March 2014

i can't forgive

I have just finished reading Corrie ten Boom's amazing autobiography, 'The Hiding Place'. She re-tells the horrors she had to face in WW2 and her punishment for hiding Jews in her home. The book speaks of the miracles that happened to her and her sister whilst they endured in a concentration camp and how even in the most vile suffering they found things to praise God for.

In the last few paragraphs Corrie writes about a time when she met, after many years, one of the prison guards at the camp. When she looked upon him, all the old memories came flooding back to her and with them hatred welled within her. He had come to thank her for her message, of how even a sinner like himself could be saved and forgiven because of Jesus. And Corrie realised right there and then that she couldn't forgive him. But God showed her that he had forgiveness enough for him, that Jesus had died for this man, would she ask for more than that? God showed her that only through His love could she love this former prison guard. That only through God's strength was she ever going to forgive him.

Throughout my life I have heard people say 'well God helped me to forgive', statements like that never truly applied to me because the only enemies I had when I was younger was when I would fall out with one of my siblings. But over the past years,weeks and months I have grown angry. Passions stirred within me of righteous anger, anger that I didn't really know what to do with. There were so many things I couldn't handle, I saw evil everywhere I turned, and the rock of my life, my own family, were even falling apart. I grew tired, I had had enough, I couldn't take it any more, then I realised through the suffering that I really needed God. Not just to know God, not just to think about him and praise him and tell others about him, but to actually help me to live this life in the way that he planned for me to. Because only when you have been through suffering do you realise that it was all 'you' before, it was you trying in your own strength to love, to forgive, to heal, to make better. Then when you come to the end you break down and weep. You fall on your knees and say 'I just can't forgive him any more, he's broken my heart too many times. I don't think it's fair on me any more, it's just not 'human' to love him after this!' That's when God says 'I know and I've watched you carry all of that, I didn't take it from you because I wanted you to come to this place, to see me now. To realise that I'm here with more than enough love to give, that's what I do- I am love, I have an eternal love, an ever-lasting love that will overcome all evil and cleanse every sinner white as snow. I can love him for you, I can forgive him for you. Through me and me only will you realise you can.'

This is remarkable, don't you think so? Our heavenly father takes our burdens for us and loves us so much, he will help us overcome all trials, more than help us, he will forgive our enemies for us- with us!

Corrie ten Boom said that as soon as she offered her bitterness and her hatred to God, he poured through her a warmth and in an instant she could look upon that prison gaurd with love! She didn't try in her weak human efforts, she let God try, and there was love unlike any other. Corrie says that never are the floodgates so open to the ocean of God's love, than when one's loving one's enemies.

I encourage you, who will have problems and trials all of your own in this life, to just stop and cry out to our heavenly father who longs for us to surrender to him. So that you too can experience this true freedom found only through divine love.


3 curses of the fall

Thinking about old curses today, looking at the Bible itself. The curses I'm going to talk about are the notorious ones in Genesis chapter 3, entitled 'the fall'.

To Eve, God said "I will make your pains in child bearing very severe; with painful labor you will give birth to children. Your desire will be for your husband, and he will rule over you." And to Adam God said "Cursed is the ground because of you (...) it will produce thorns and thistles for you and ... you will return to dust from where you came."

We know that these curses were given because of sin and because Adam and Eve chose to know good from bad, and sin from holiness. With that sin has to come punishment, that is death. But praise God- Jesus has redeemed us and makes us holy without having to die first, if only we believe in him. But though (if we love Jesus) we are living under the freedom found in Christ, we still must endure the hardships of this world, this same world where Eve and Adam were placed  in the fall. So we are still living in 'the fall'.

Humans try to make things better in the world, but because of the fall we cannot escape these curses. These curses remind us that this world is not eternal and that one day we will all be set free and reign together as daughters and sons of Christ; co-heirs with him.

So, looking at the 3 curses above, I will get to my point.
The 1st curse- humans try to make toiling on the land easier, correct? New technology is invented to make farming easier and though there are still thorns, we can get rid of them for a time. Farmers can battle against the toil and win, they can produce crops, though of course if nature takes over, the crops fail and things go wrong. But, man tries to combat this.

The 2nd curse is also battled with- childbirth. Doctors and midwives are creating new drugs and new techniques and tools to make it as easy as possible for expectant mothers. Of course some mothers have terrible labouring and we cannot always escape that and thus we can see that the old curse still exists, but in just the same way as the farmers, we try to make it better.

 Now we come to the final curse, the 3rd. The one that will hold most debate and argumenting. The issue of husbands having control, ownership and authority over their wives. If you look around the world you will still find this old curse in place. Some women may tell you that is 'just how it is' or that they think 'it right'.
Why does this curse withstand? Because at the core of human nature is selfishness. And the greed of power and control is seen through every human being, be it a woman or a man. You find us doing this with animals, with nature, with science. We like to be in control.
So, over the many centuries, men have flourished in this 'ownership' over their wives, claiming that it is a natural order of things. Those same people seem to forget that their wives are actually the same specie as them, and that they have the same needs and desires as any of us. It just so happened that men abused the power they had over women until the women began to think that they were different, that they were lesser human beings, etc...

I find it fascinating then, to look at the world around me and at the christians I know and to see them still living under this curse. Why try to throw 2 curses away but keep the 3rd? Is that because only men have been controlling our history? Telling the rest of the population how it should be? Because it suits them? Have they brain-washed so many of us to think it is 'natural' rather than a cultural construction made from sin?

I'm asking each one of you that reads this to be honest, why are so many of us allowing ourselves to be dictated by this curse of sin? Why aren't so many more of us making it better? Making it right?

 So in Christ Jesus you are all children of God through faith, for all of you who were baptized into Christ have clothed yourselves with Christ. There is neither Jew nor Gentile, neither slave nor free, nor is there male and female, for you are all one in Christ Jesus.

- Galatians 3:26-28