Death bed request

Old Joe was dying. Realizing that time was running out, he wanted to make everything right. But something bothered him. He was at odds with Bill, formally one of his best friends. Joe had often argued with him over the most trivial matters, and in recent years they hadn’t spoken at all. Wanting to resolve the problem, he sent for Bill, who graciously consented to visit him. When Bill arrived, Joe told him that he was afraid to go into eternity with bad feelings between them, and he wanted to make things right. When he reached out for Bill’s hand and said, “I forgive you; will you forgive me?” Everything seemed fine. Just as Bill was leaving, however, Joe shouted after him, “But remember, if I get better, this doesn’t count!”

poison to the soul

What a strange thing bitterness is! It breaks in on us when we need it least, when we’re down and in desperate need of all our freedom, ability, and energy to get back up. And what strange things bitterness can do to us. It slowly sets, like a permanent plaster cast, perhaps protecting the wearer from further pain but ultimately holding the sufferer rigid in frozen animation. Feelings and responses have turned to concrete. Bitterness is paralysis.

A young man, falsely accused, condemned and penalized by his high school principal, turns sullen, angry, bitter. His faith in all justice and authority dies. He will not forgive.

A girl, betrayed by a fellow she trusted, is forced, becomes pregnant, then turns bitter and withdrawn. Her faith in all humanity ends. She cannot forgive.

A woman, deserted by her husband, left to be both mother and father to their two sons, turns angry at life- at the whole universe. Her faith in God and everything good has ended. She did not forgive.

Bitterness is such a potent paralysis of mind, soul and spirit that it can freeze our reason, emotions and all our responses.

David Augsburger, The Freedom of Forgiveness

Let it Go

You've suffered unjustly. Passed over for the promotion. Mistreated by a spouse. Disrespected by a co-worker, fellow student, or even a member of your church.

Perhaps you lie in bed at night imagining detailed conversations with someone who's wronged you. You daydream about getting back at them. You conspire, hoping to discover ways to embarrass those who've treated you unfairly.

Let go of your bitterness and desire for retaliation.

Romans 12:19 says, "Do not take revenge, my friends, but leave room for God's wrath, for it is written: " Vengeance is mine; I will repay, saith the Lord."

It is not your job to exact revenge. That's God's responsibility. And he does not need our help doing it. If you hoard hatred and bitterness toward those who have hurt you, the injury will only deepened and hurt you even more. Those around you will suffer as well. Bitterness is a poison that spills over into our relationships. Don’t allow the people who have hurt you keep on doing so.

Stephen Goforth

Every Human Heart

“The line separating good and evil passes, not through states, nor between classes nor between political parties either, but right through every human heart."

Alexandr Solzhenitsyn endured many years in a Russian Gulag (labor camp) and could write that statement with conviction. Many men did not survive the terrible weather and the harsh treatment in the Gulag. Solzhenitsyn was slowing dying himself while he was interned-until a fellow prisoner showed him unexpected kindness and it changed his attitude and refreshed his spirit. He survived to become one of the most well-read and revered authors in Russian.

We each face will choose living on one side of the line or on the other.

Stephen Goforth

Forgiveness is

Forgiveness is not saying, “What you did to me is okay.” It is saying, “I’m not going to let what you did to me ruin my happiness forever.” Forgiveness is the remedy. It doesn’t mean you’re erasing the past, or forgetting what happened. It means you’re letting go of the resentment and pain, and instead choosing to learn from the incident and move on with your life.

Remember, the less time you spend hating the people who hurt you, the more time you’ll have to love the people who love you.

Marc and Angel Chernoff

A Pardon in the Pocket

A prisoner in 1830 named George Wilson was pardoned by the President. They brought Wilson the pardon, but he refused to accept it because it would mean admitting his guilt. So he walked to the hangman’s noose with the pardon in his pocket. That’s what each human is like. We have pardons in our pockets. But most people ignore their guilt, ignore the pardon, the new life, the love and power..

Harold Myra, The New You

accepting forgiveness

Imagine a man standing in the terminal with a ticket in his hand, refusing to enter the plane because he feels unworthy to fly! Such an attitude would prove that he doesn't understand the basis for his admittance to the plane. He would probably end up a nervous wreck and never get off the ground. He doesn't understand that his worthiness or unworthiness is not the issue; the ticket is what counts.

Think of the implications. If God (whose standards are far higher than ours) has completely forgiven and accepted us, why can we not accept ourselves? Why can we not believe His verdict in the matter and accept ourselves as He accepts us? If we have received the ticket, which Christ paid for on the cross, we have no need to feel unacceptable.

Edward Lutzer,  Failure: The Back Door to Success

the value of an apology

A German wholesaler decided to offer a brief apology and rebate to customers who had posted more than 600 complaints about the firm on eBay. Defective products and late deliveries pledged the firm. Half were sent an apology and half were offered a small cash rebate. The result? Nearly half of those who received the apology removed their poor rating of the company. Only one-out-of-five of the customers given the money did so.

Stephen Goforth

the brave doctor

Shortly after Hitler's invasion of Czechoslovakia, a doctor in William E. Wallner's parish was sent to a Nazi concentration camp. The doctor, a Jewish convert to Christianity, encouraged his fellow prisoners "to die bravely, with faith in their hearts." As a result, he became a target of Gestapo officers.

Although struck with an iron rod until one of his arms had to be amputated, the doctor would not be quieted. Finally, as DeMille's autobiography recounts, "one Gestapo officer beat the doctor's head against a stone wall until blood was streaming down his face." Holding a mirror before the doctor, the Gestapo officer sneered: "Take a look at yourself. Now you look like your Jewish Christ."

Lifting his remaining hand up, the doctor exclaimed, "Lord, never in my life have I received such honor—to resemble You." Those would be his last words on Earth.

Distraught by the doctor's proclamation, the Gestapo officer sought out Wallner that night. "Could Pastor Wallner help him, free him from the terrible burden of his guilt?"

After praying with him, Wallner advised, "Perhaps God let you kill that good man to bring you to the foot of the Cross, where you can help others." The Gestapo officer returned to the concentration camp. And through the aid of Wallner and the Czech underground, he worked to free many Jews over the years that followed.

John Murray writing in the Wall Street Journal

the Cycle of Bitterness

Bitterness leads to a helpless, hopeless cycle around our distasteful feelings. Like the child first learning to ride a bike, we keep moving without knowing how to stop without crashing. We pedal on and on, afraid to quit, yet wishing desperately for someone to come and break our ring of futility.

Only forgiveness can do that. Only forgiveness can disrupt our endlessly dull orbit in the same senseless circle around our bitter feelings to set us free.

Stephen Goforth

In the grip of bitterness

During my hitch in the Marine Corps, my wife and I rented a studio apartment in San Francisco from a man crippled by a World War 2 injury. Captured at Wake Island and later confined for years in China, he was left partially paralyzed when an enemy solider struck hi with a rifle butt.

When I visited with this landlord, he'd tell me one story after another of how barbarically he'd been treated. With vile language and intense emotion, he spoke of the tortures he'd endured and of his utter hatred for the Japanese. Here was a man who had been horribly wronged-without question. The constant misery and pain he lived with could not be measured. My heart went out to him.

But there was another factor which made his existence even more lamentable. Our landlord had become a bitter man. Even though he was years removed from the war.. even though he had been safely released from the concentration camp and was now able to carry on physically... even though he and his wife owned a lovely dwelling and had a comfortable income, the crippled an was bound by the grip of bitterness. He was still fighting a battle that should have ended years before. In a very real sense, he was still in prison.

His bitterness manifested itself in intense prejudice, an acrid tongue and an everyone's out-to-get-me attitude. I am convinced that he was far more miserable by 1957 than he had been in 1944. There is no torment like the inner torment of an unforgiving spirit. It refuses to be soothed, it refuses to be healed, it refuses to forget.

Chuck Swindoll
Killing Giants: Pulling Thorns

get up and go on back; the game is only half over

On New Year’s Day, 1929, a University of California football player named Roy Riegels made Rose Bowl history. He was playing defense when an opposing Georgia Tech player dropped eh ball. Roy grabbed the fumble and took off on a gallop for the end zone. The wrong end zone. For a moment, all the other players froze. Then, one of Roy’s own teammates, Benny Lom, took off in pursuit. After a spectacular fumble return of 65 yards, Lom caught and downed the confused Riegels just before he scored for his opponents. Cal took over the ball with their backs to their own goal line. Tech’s defense refused to give and California had to punt. But Georgia Tech blocked the kick in the end zone and scored a two-point safety (which was the ultimate margin of victory). That wrong-way run came shortly before the end of the second quarter. And as the teams left the field at halftime, everyone watching the Rose Bowl that day was wondering the same thing: “What will California Coach, Nibbs Price, do with Roy Riegels in the second half?”

The California players silently filed into the dressing room and found places to sit, on benches and floors. All of them except Riegels. He wrapped a blanket around his shoulders, sagged to the floor in the corner, put his face in his hands and cried like a baby. Football coaches usually have a great deal to say to their teams during halftime. But that day Coach Price was quiet. No doubt he was trying to decide what to do with Riegels. Finally, the timekeeper stuck his head in the dressing room and announced: “Three minutes till playing time.” Coach Price looked at his team, glanced over at Riegels and said simply, “Men, the same team that played the first half will start the second.”

The players stood and moved quickly for the door. All but Riegels. He didn’t budge. The coach looked back and called to him again: “Riegels.” Still he didn’t move. Coach Price walked slowly over to the corner, looked down and asked softly, “Roy, didn’t you hear me? I said, ‘The same team that played the first half will start the second.” Roy Riegels lifted his head. His eyes were red, his cheeks wet. “Coach,” he said, “I can’t do it. I’ve ruined you. I’ve ruined the University of California. I’ve ruined myself. I couldn’t face that crowd in the stadium to save my life.” Coach Price reached out, put his hand on the player’s shoulder and said to him, “Roy, get up and go on back; the game is only half over.” Roy Riegels went back out on that field. And the Georgia Tech players said afterward that they’d never seen anyone play as hard as Roy Riegels played that second half.

When I think of this story, I think “What a coach!” And then I think about all the big mistakes I’ve made in my life and how God is willing to forgive me and let me try again. I take the ball and run the wrong direction. I stumble and fall and am so ashamed of myself that I never want to show my face again. But God comes to me and bends over me in the person of his son Jesus Christ, and he says, “Get up and go back; the game is only half over.” This is the gospel of the second chance. Of the third chance. Of the hundredth chance. And when I think of that, I have to say, “What a God!”

author unknown