Reflections on how I learn to live life with faith.
This is one of the most powerful chapters in the book for me. The things that were written in this chapter lingered within me over and over. Just the first sentences itself is powerful, “Relationships are always worth restoring… God wants us to value relationships and make the effort to maintain them instead of discarding them whenever there is a rift, a hurt, or a conflict.”
Rick Warren’s question to consider at the end of this chapter is: Who do I need to restore a broken relationship with today?
Okay, here goes… After I have read this whole chapter and reflected on it for a couple of times (it still lingers in my mind until now), I can only think of one person whom I need to restore a broken relationship with. The key word here is “need” and not “want”, and that by itself creates a big difference. In order to fully mature as a believer of Christ, Jesus has instructed his followers to be at one with each other, love your enemies, and love each other as I have loved you and as much as how you love yourself.
It keeps on creeping back to me because whenever I remember this person, I just remember all the betrayal, lies, hurts, pains, sufferings, cowardice, mockery, unjustified judgments, unanswered questions, filth, fleshly lusty desires, persecution, cries… all the negative and darkness that I have experienced because of this person. On a positive note, if I had never under gone through such darkness in my life, I would have never grown in peace and in love with my faith in Jesus Christ and in God. For that, I really owe this person a lot because this person is the reason why I turned back to God. My experience with this person last year has been my testimony as to why God has been my fortress and source of refuge because God heals those who are broken hearted and broken in spirit.
When all the lies had been put out in the open, I never really heard anything from this person and I requested our common friends to stop asking me what had happened, if I am okay, and whenever they share their anger at that person for the betrayal because of what they can see and read from that person’s Facebook. To put it simply, I had cut my communication with that person – changed my main email, kept my Skype offline, switched from Skype to Viber, switched from YM to Whatsapp and Gmail, changed my number, changed my blog accounts, protected my Twitter, protected my Facebook, blocked, unsubscribed and unfriended the people that I wanted to get rid of. I do not want to have anything to do with that person and whatever that person is doing is not my concern anymore. Because it happened before and the fact that it happened again, I just really want to rid myself from that person and live my life as if I had never met that person even if we have known each other for years. If I did not changed all my personal details, I will still find myself connected with that person and it will just disgust me and I will just laugh at myself how foolish I was to waste my time with that person. Getting rid of that person was a preparation for myself for freedom, for independence, for a new birth, for a new me.
Moving on from that person and when I was still a “baby Christian”, I approached one of the youth leaders and asked him, “What does the Bible tells us about forgiving?” He told me the whole seventy times seven thing, and he quoted something from the Purpose Driven Life book. He shared with me that there is a difference between forgiving and trusting. We are followers of Christ have the obligation and responsibility to forgive every one that has done us wrong. Trusting on the other hand is different, after you had forgiven someone, it is your choice if you should trust that person or not. Like what Rick Warren wrote in Day 3 of the Purpose Driven Life, let us not be prisoners of our past.
Furthermore, Pastor Rick, who supervises our Bible study group in Generation for Christ, taught this to me when I asked him, “what if the person who hurt you never asked for forgiveness?” And he enlightened me. He said, if you do not forgive that person, you are setting a chain for yourself and not for that person because you choose to hold yourself with anger and pain. You will have to let go and give all your hurts to God and He will do the rest for you. If the person did not ask for forgiveness, forgive that person through your prayer to God. By the time that the person is ready to talk to you and ask for your forgiveness, it will not be a big deal to you anymore because you have had let go of the pain for a long time already. When you let go, you start to become at peace with yourself and it is easier for you to forgive that person. And remember that Jesus said to His Father on the cross, “Father forgive them, for they do not know what they are doing.” Jesus asked God for the forgiveness of the people who were mocking and persecuting Him at the cross even though they never asked forgiveness in front of Christ. That same night, I paused and prayed on my own to God. It took me 20 or 30 minutes, but I prayed to God with my whole heart about all the pains that I had experienced with this person and let God know that I forgive that person. This was probably the second or third time that I cried because my prayer was so heartfelt. At the end of my prayer, I told God to somehow, let this person know that I am setting this person free of the burden of sin that this person has done to me. In one form or another, let that person know that I forgive that person, even if that person never asked any.
Now that I am a leader in GFC, last night was our meeting and we had talked about the scripture that we are about to teach this coming Tuesday. One of the verses there was “If you forgive your brother’s sin against you, your sins are also forgiven. But if you do not forgive, your sins are not yet forgiven.” A layperson can easily understand that verse in one reading but on the deeper message of it, the verse essentially goes skin deep as to revealing to us that, we do not have the power or the authority to deprive someone of the forgiveness that he/she deserves because God alone has the authority to forgive all of our sins. We’re practicing pride and we’re playing a god in someone else because we are too stubborn, prideful and selfish to humble ourselves and forgive their sins. As I quote from this book’s chapter, “Sometimes it costs our pride; it often costs our self-centeredness. For the sake of fellowship, do your best to compromise, adjust to others, and show preference to what they need.”
I know I am still a work in progress and my maturity with Christ has grown from one form of glory to another. I can say that I am a better person now. I am more humble now. I am more than willing to serve now without asking for anything in return because I do it for God’s glory. I do not anger as often or as quickly as how I used to. I teach the Bible now. I share my devotions now. I write my reflections now. I serve God now. I disciple people now. Yet, this person, I have yet to restore a broken relationship with. And this book says, “The Bible says sin, including unresolved conflict, blocks our fellowship with God and keeps our prayers from being answered…”
To be honest, I do not know. I am honest enough to admit, I do not know. Though I have started a long time ago, I have prayed and prayed and prayed for this person for blessings, for peace, for forgiveness, for happiness, and for the restoration of a broken fellowship. In God’s time, I really left this to God. For it is God who knows what will happen to me because in His infinite mind He has planned my life from my birth until my physical death, and so I’m leaving this to God. Who knows right? God’s timing is never too early and not too late, God’s timing is perfect and just right.
And if that person so happens to read this blog post: I pray that your heart be clean and pure. I pray for God to bless you and let you know with a clean, honest and pure heart that I forgive you. Forgive me too for everything that I have caused you. I pray that someday, in God’s perfect timing, we’ll restore a broken fellowship. I pray that your heart won’t be troubled with fear, insecurity or pride from approaching me because there’s really nothing to lose or be scared of but everything to gain. In Jesus’ name, I pray.
“God has restored our relationship with him through Christ, and has given us this ministry of restoring relationships.” – 2 Corinthians 5:18
“Do everything possible on your part to live in peace with everybody.” – Romans 12:18
“If you enter your place of worship and about to make an offering, you suddenly remember a grudge a friend has against you, abandon your offering, leave immediately, go to this friend and make things right. Then and only then, come back and worth things out with God.” – Matthew 5:23-24