Have you ever had a story that you felt like you couldn’t share publicly because it involves other people? You know, the other people that would be hurt or offended by sharing an ugly story? Well, that is where I stand on quite a few stories because I don’t want to out someone. For the sake of keeping relationships intact and healthy, sometimes the details will have to remain a bit on the vague side. The people who are close to me know those details and I hold dear that the Lord knows the truth about every situation… even the ones I think I know it all and I really don’t. I can’t because I just plain can’t get inside of other people’s brains and thought lives. Would I really even want to?
At any rate, I was reminded about a situation years ago and what God showed me.
You might think this is totally a “duh” thing. To me it was profound. Sometimes in the midst of a problem we forget the “duh” stuff we should just know anyway. I needed the reminder.
Forgiveness is not a one time deal. When I choose to forgive someone, that forgiveness has to breathe in and out for the rest of my life. I have to practice it, and keep choosing it. There was a time that I thought I had forgiven someone in totality, when the truth was… I forgot some vital steps along the way. I just figured if I loved them honestly, still, after being hurt, it meant that I forgave them and I was done with it.
I wondered how I was struggling with forgiveness with other people who haven’t hurt me as much, yet I was done with this particular person. I sort of half laughed, musing over the fact that I had forgiven such a considerable amount.
This brings me to a scripture that hit me in the FACE.
It was Matthew 12: 43-45
43 “When an evil[b] spirit leaves a person, it goes into the desert, seeking rest but finding none. 44 Then it says, ‘I will return to the person I came from.’ So it returns and finds its former home empty, swept, and in order. 45 Then the spirit finds seven other spirits more evil than itself, and they all enter the person and live there. And so that person is worse off than before. That will be the experience of this evil generation.”
Here lies the problem I was facing. I swept “house.” I cleaned it big time. I dealt with thoughts, emotions, bitterness, anger, depression…name it, I faced it. I slowly swept my house completely clean. This was why I felt like I had forgiven for good. I was freely loving again. I was able to put my head on straight about healthy boundaries and how to love safely. By all means, I had no idea what was going to rear it’s ugly head next.
Those 7 spirits may have well been a hundred. Attack was sky high and I could not control the situation I was in. While I remained diligent to continue to behave as a Christ Follower, I found myself resentful, angry, upset, and unfeeling. Where had my forgiveness gone? I was face to face with my Forgiven, and found myself battling a fight within myself to claim it as the truth!
This takes me to a moment that God showed me a little something. He needs to get my attention sometimes when I am wallowing in my own self pity. It’s an easy thing to do when he uses something as vile as a snake. Have you ever been to the Richmond Zoo? They have one of those caged areas you can walk through. They have ducks, a fish stream, and quite a few other birds in there. It’s a cool little path you walk through and get right up near the wildlife. They have a very small waterfall that goes through the area, with a path that bridges over the water. I sat and watched the water and lo and behold, a snake was there. It was a small snake. I am not the type to get near a snake EVER. I felt like God said, “stay here and just watch, there’s something I’d like you to see…” So, I ignored my flight response to see what it was. The snake was in the water. I hadn’t seen that before. I mused over a snake being so scary to me. It’s essentially a head on a stick. It doesn’t even have arms. Funny how it seems so scary. The next part is what God wanted me to see.
The snake swam right up to the waterfall.
He proceeded to swim UP the waterfall.
I was taken aback by it’s strength to go against the current, this stupid head on a stick.
I saw what it took for it to swim up the waterfall.
It would twist it’s body and release, twist even tighter and then release again. The more it coiled up, the stronger it got.
It was an “Ah HA!” moment for me. The more the snake, Satan (so easy and aprapos for representing Satan)- twisted things up, the stronger he was going to get. He was powerful when he could twist and turn everything, enough to go up against a current.
I started to see more clearly from that moment. When I could identify Satan’s scheme, it no longer had me sobbing into my pillow, wondering why I was going through such anguish for the millionth time. I guess I needed to see what needed the fight to be able to combat it. Part of it, was me. The other part was the father of lies wheeling his deals once again.
My problem with cleaning house was that the spirit came back to find it empty. I hadn’t filled it after I cleaned it. I hadn’t placed Christ in the center of it. I hadn’t claimed his truth fully in this particular area. I left a piece of my fence to crumble and let a roaring lion into my backyard.
What is perhaps the best part of it all was that it wasn’t going to be my fight. I didn’t have to solve all the problems I was having with said Forgiven person. Christ was going to work them all out, if I remained willing to let him do it. He promises us that. 1 Thessalonians 5: 24 While the situation is not perfect, and sometimes I am still hurt by this person, I am not defeated, and I love them. Not because of what I’m able to do, but what Christ is able to do. If I let Christ be my source of love and forgiveness, I no longer have to search to find it within myself. I emptied that bank LONG ago. I had to make those spaces that I clean into His house.
At any rate. It’s a cool thing when God tells you to watch and listen…
even when it involves a nasty snake.