The Power of Forgiveness

Warning: If you are sad, this email may make you sadder at first; but keep reading and it will hopefully make you happy and hopeful.
Since I am the lead pastor, I always know the plan for the church service. I know the message. I know the timeline of the service. A lot of times I am the one who makes the plan in the first place. I know who is speaking, on what topic, and for how long. (I also know who is speaking too long and who is off topic. And it is usually me.) So, why did I find myself so stirred up last night at our Wednesday Night all-church prayer meeting? 
The plan was to talk about forgiveness and pray in regards to forgiveness. The prayer time was going along just fine until I found myself overcome with a combination of sadness and hurt regarding my father’s suicide. I have forgiven him many times over the last 20 years, so this was a surprise for me. 

After his suicide, the first thing I needed to forgive him for was for leaving me without the security, strength, and support he had always been in my life. (He was an incredible dad.) Later, I needed to forgive him for leaving my mom to pick up the painful pieces of the shattered life his suicide left her with. (Which she did well because she was incredible as well.) However, last night I found myself needing to forgive him for leaving my girls without the powerful, beautiful, and enabling love he gave to everyone that knew him. 
They would have been so much better off for having known him. They would be so much richer in their souls by going on adventures with him. He would have loved them so deeply and delighted in them so much that their cups would always be running over. Like I said, he was a great dad. But instead, he stole that from them, and from me. 
I know he did not know what he was doing. There is no way he could have known the full consequences of his actions. I know that painful night he bit into a great deception of suicide was a moment of weakness. So, like Jesus, I can say, "Father forgive him, for he didn’t know the full extent of what he was doing." 

Jesus does not ask us to excuse those who wrong us, but He does ask us to forgive them. 
Now here is the not sad part. As soon as I let go of the seeds of unforgiveness trying to take root in my heart, the healing of Jesus came.That is the way it works with Jesus. You give Him the bitterness, resentment, unforgiveness, pain, and shame, and He plants in you seeds of freedom, healing and peace. It takes time for those good seeds to grow up into full, fruitful trees; but those who continually forgive will see it come to pass. I have in the past and, because of last night’s prayer time, I have the opportunity to do it again. 
Today I pray that your family, home, relationships, and your soul would all be filled with the powerful gift of forgiveness. 
We’ll talk more about that on Sunday.