Unlike us, God never gives up on a person. Never. Long after we have moved on, God is still there, probing the conscience, stirring conviction, always orchestrating redemption. Fix your enemies? That’s God's job.
Forgive your enemies? Ah, that's where you and I come in. We forgive. "Do not let the sun go down on your anger, and do not give the devil an opportunity" (Eph. 4:26–27 NASB). The word translated opportunity is the Greek word topos, the same term from which we get the English noun topography. It means territory or ground. Interesting. Anger gives ground to the devil. Bitterness invites him to occupy a space in your heart, to rent a room. Believe me, he will move in and stink up the place. Gossip, slander, temper – anytime you see these, Satan has claimed a bunk.
Evict him. Don't even give him the time of day. In the name of Jesus tell him to pack his bags and hit the road. Begin the process of forgiveness. Keep no list of wrongs. Pray for your antagonists rather than plot against them. Hate the wrong without hating wrongdoers. Turn your attention away from what they did to you to what Jesus did for you. Outrageous as it may seem, Jesus died for them too. If he thinks they are worth forgiving, they are. Does that make forgiveness easy? No. Quick? Seldom. Painless? Hardly.
Forgiveness vacillates like this. It has fits and starts, good days and bad. Anger intermingled with love. Irregular mercy. We make progress only to make a wrong turn. Step forward and fall back. But this is okay. When it comes to forgiveness, all of us are beginners. No one owns a secret formula. As long as you are trying to forgive, you are forgiving. It's when you no longer try that bitterness sets in.
Stay the course. You'll spend less time in the spite house and more in the grace house. And as one who has walked the hallways of both, I can guarantee that you are going to love the space of grace.
Take a moment and look around you. Do you realize where we sit? This planet is God's waiting room.
The young couple in the corner? Waiting to get pregnant. The fellow with the briefcase? He has resumes all over the country, waiting on work. The elderly woman with the cane? A widow. Been waiting a year for one tearless day. Waiting. Waiting on God to give, help, heal. Waiting on God to come. We indwell the land betwixt prayer offered and prayer answered. The land of waiting.
Are you in God's waiting room? If so, here is what you need to know: while you wait, God works.
"My Father is always at his work," Jesus said (John 5:17NIV). God never twiddles his thumbs. He never stops. He takes no vacations. He rested on the seventh day of creation but got back to work on the eighth and hasn't stopped since. Just because you are idle, don't assume God is. "Be still, and know that I am God" reads the sign on God's waiting room wall. You can be glad because God is good. You can be still because he is active. You can rest because he is busy.
Remember God's word through Moses to the Israelites? "Do not be afraid. Stand still, and see the salvation of the LORD ... The Lord will fight for you, and you shall hold your peace" (Ex. 14:13–14). The Israelites saw the Red Sea ahead of them and heard the Egyptian soldiers thundering after them. Death on both sides. Stand still? Are you kidding? But what the former slaves couldn't see was the hand of God at the bottom of the water, creating a path, and his breath from heaven, separating the waters. God was working for them.
God worked for Mary, the mother of Jesus. The angel told her that she would become pregnant. The announcement stirred a torrent of questions in her heart. How would she become pregnant? What would people think? What would Joseph say? Yet God was working for her. He sent a message to Joseph, her fiance. God prompted Caesar to declare a census. God led the family to Bethlehem. "God is always at work for the good of everyone who loves him" (Rom. 8:28 CEV).
To wait, biblically speaking, is not to assume the worst, worry, fret, make demands, or take control. Nor is waiting inactivity. Waiting is a sustained effort to stay focused on God through prayer and belief. To wait is to "rest in the Lord, and wait patiently for Him; ... not fret" (Ps. 37:7).
Read Joshua 3:1-17
The Israelites were eager to enter the Promised Land, conquer nations, and live peacefully. But first they had to cross the flood-level waters of the Jordan River. God gave them specific instructions: in order to cross, the priests had to step into the water. What if these priests had been afraid to take that first step? Often God provides no solution to our problems until we trust him and move ahead with what we know we should do.
The Israelites crossed the Jordan River in the spring, when it was overflowing its banks. God chose the time when the river was at its highest to demonstrate his power—parting the waters so that the entire nation could cross on dry ground. Some say that God used a natural occurrence (such as a landslide) to stop the waters of the Jordan; others say he did it by a direct miracle. In either case, God showed his great power by working a miracle of timing and location to allow his people to cross the river on dry ground. This exhibition of God’s supernatural power served to encourage the Israelites’ hope in God and to gave them a fearsome reputation among their enemies, who greatly outnumbered them.
God had parted the waters of the Red Sea to let the people out of Egypt (Exodus 14), and here he parted the Jordan River to let them enter Canaan. These miracles showed Israel that God keeps his promises. God’s presence among his people and his faithfulness to them made the entire journey from Egypt to the Promised Land possible. He was with them at the end of their wanderings just as he had been with them at the beginning.
What obstacles are you facing in your life? What is keeping you from moving forward? Is God calling you to take a step of faith? God may clear your path only after you begin to walk forward in faith. Remember how he has been with you in the past, and trust that he will continue to go with you.
“LORD, who may dwell in your sanctuary?
Who may live on your holy hill? He whose walk is blameless
and who does what is righteous, who speaks the truth from his heart
and has no slander on his tongue, who does his neighbor no wrong
and casts no slur on his fellowman.”
( Ps. 15:1-3
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