On Monday morning she woke up, tired and trying to recover from her weekend of leisure, and went downstairs to put the water to boil for her cup of tea. As she stepped into the kitchen, she saw a small, neatly wrapped gift box waiting on the table. Curiosity piqued, she leaned in and read the name on the tag, and to her surprise, she saw her name. She looked around, stunned, trying to figure out where the gift came from. It was not her birthday and her husband was out of town this week for work…so where did this gift come from? She knew it was not there last night, but confusion and curiosity got the best of her and she opened the gift box. Inside of the box she found a bracelet charm with one word written on it: PEACE. She rushed to the phone to call her husband to ask about the gift, but he promised that it was not him who left the gift. She was still confused and decided to leave the box on the table and hurry to work before she was late. She thought about the gift all day while at work but by the time she got home, she dismissed her thoughts and proceeded to bed.
On Tuesday morning she went downstairs, again, to prep for her morning. This time as she stepped into the kitchen, she saw another neatly wrapped gift box on the table, sitting next to the box from yesterday. Yet again, she read that her name was on the box and she opened it. Much like yesterday, the box contained one bracelet charm and this time the charm pendant read HOPE. She, again, raced to the phone to call her husband and, again, he promised that he had not left her any presents. After hearing his adamant answer, she began checking to make sure that the security alarm on her house was working correctly and, as she drove to work, she called the company to discuss beefing up security. When her day was over, she came home and secured every door, even barricading some doors, just to make sure that no one was entering her house. When she felt safe, she went to sleep.
On Wednesday morning she decided to grab a bat from the hallway closet before going downstairs for her tea. She carefully scaled the walls of the home, checking every single corner, before making her way to the kitchen…where she finally saw that a third present was waiting for her. Same as before, except this charm read the word LOVE. She did not know what was going on…but she also wished that the person leaving the charms had left a bracelet- what was she supposed to do with three loose charms??? This time she did not bother to call her husband; she figured that it was an elaborately planned gift from him and she decided to play along.
On Thursday, Friday, and Saturday she came downstairs every morning to find a new, neatly wrapped gift box waiting for her. Each day she opened the box and found yet another charm waiting for her. On Saturday she decided to sit for a moment and look at the charms that she had collected: PEACE, HOPE, LOVE, JOY, PATIENCE, and GENTLENESS. She smiled to herself, not knowing her husband’s intentions, but enjoying the way that he had decided to show his love to her.
On Sunday morning she began her normal routine, but she noticed something different as she went to the kitchen, the box that was waiting for her was larger than the other gift boxes had been. She did not know what that meant, but she excitedly raced over to the box to open it. Once opened, she found a charm that read GOODNESS… and a bracelet to hold all seven charms. She gathered all of the charms together, added them to the bracelet, put on the bracelet, and then admired the creativeness of her thoughtful husband. She was so deep in thought that she almost missed that this gift also came with a note. She grabbed the note and tore it open with haste, just dying to see what her husband had written. Her childlike smile soon turned into a surprised gasp, as she realized that her husband was not the giver of her gifts. As it turns out, the giver of her gifts was the Giver of all things; the benefactor of her gifts was God Himself.
The note explained that He knew she had been feeling much pain and grief since the death of her son last year, but that when she decided to forgive the drunk driver who took her only child’s life, she had gained these invaluable gifts. Upon fully reading the note, she fell to the floor and began to praise her God. The death of her and her husband’s only child had been devastating; she had spent months in the throes of depression and found it hard to even get out of the bed in the morning. One Sunday morning when she could not get out of bed, her husband decided to pray for her. After the prayer, he turned on the television and they watched a television stream of their church’s morning service. They had not physically been to church in months but just hearing the melodic words of their pastor put them both at ease.
It had been about six months since their son had died, cards and visits had long since stopped, and they were trying to find a new sense of normality… as best as they possibly could. The trial for the drunk driver was approaching and they were both holding a heart full of anger at the person who had taken their baby’s life. But in that television service their pastor spoke directly to them. His message on that morning was about forgiveness and how it was not for the other person. His supportive scripture came from Ephesians 4:31-32, NKJV.
Let all bitterness, wrath, anger, clamor, and evil speaking be put away from you, with all malice. And be kind to one another, tenderhearted, forgiving one another, even as God in Christ forgave you.
She wanted to get up to turn off the television and completely ignore this message, but she felt a tug on her heart, urging her to leave it on. As she and her husband listened to the entire sermon, allowing the pastor’s words to penetrate their hearts, they both began to cry gentle tears as the pastor encouraged the congregation to forgive others so that healing and forgiveness could begin in them. They recalled the love that Jesus had for them and how He had forgiven them of their many sins and faults. They thought of the love the Father had for them, sending His only Son to die for their sins. They thought of all the people that they had hurt in their lives, yet somehow those people had forgiven them. They looked at each other knowingly and fell to their knees in prayer. In that moment, they decided to clear their hearts of hatred and malice and allow for God to fill them with love and tenderheartedness. It was not easy, but they decided from that moment on that they would earnestly work towards forgiving the person who had ended their son’s life.
That had been almost six months ago. While she had not forgotten about that moment, she also did not dwell on it. She and her husband had attended classes for grieving parents, given a few encouraging speeches, and even spoke for leniency at the driver’s trial. When they had decided to let God help them forgive the driver, God immediately stepped in and began repairing their hearts, minds, and souls. He strengthened their marriage by strengthening them individually. He had begun an incomprehensible healing process in them. Every day since, they made intentional attempts to connect and draw closer to God and each other. Even in their human weakness, they found all their strength in God.
While they could never and would never forget the pain that they had experienced, they decided to choose praise over pain. This physical charm bracelet was God’s way of reminding her of the spiritual gifts that she had gained by choosing to forgive. Instead of bitterness, wrath, and anger, she had chosen love, hope, and joy. She rose from her prayer position, held her arm closer to her heart, released gentle tears of joy, and thanked her God.
Beloved, I have often talked about my own life story and how forgiveness set me free. I have even shared how when I allowed God into my heart, He released physical and emotional weight from my body. But now I want you to really heed/read my words: FORGIVENESS SETS YOU FREE! Forgiveness is not for the other person. Forgiveness is not for those around you. Forgiveness is for YOU. When you forgive someone for the hurt they caused you, you are able to let loose the control that person had over you. Reflect on this passage from my devotional book:
When I decided to surrender to God and His will, He began healing me in every possible way (including ways that I was not expecting) and He helped me with forgiving others. As I began truly forgiving others, I felt the weight of those problems being lifted from me. I cannot say that I have forgotten every pain, but I have stopped the pain from continuing to consume me. -God Happened To M.E.: The Devotional, page 17
I pray a spirit of forgiveness would inhabit you. I pray that God would set you free. I pray that you would pray those chains would be broken.
Pray, forgive, and then pray some more.