I remember the moment like it was yesterday, even though it was almost 20 years ago. I had been a Christian for about 18 months. It’s when I learned that God could change your life in a moment as I was driving back from Denver, Co, with a buddy. We had stopped and purchased our first energy drinks. As I was coming down from the energy high, I remember looking at my reflection in the side glass and asking God two questions. “Why do I dwell on my past so much?” “Why is the pain I feel so vivid?” God didn’t answer my question that night, but I have found that He is always faithful to respond if you are willing to listen and act upon what you hear.
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A couple of months later, I was sitting down with Pastor Anderson. He told me his story of how much he hated his adopted stepbrother. He described his family as being perfect until he arrived. It took him years to forgive him. After his story, he asked me to do something. I have not always acted upon the wisdom people have given me. But, this time was different because I wanted my life to change. I have found God can change your life if you are willing to let Him change your heart.
He said, “Chad, I want you to make a list of all the people you are holding unforgiveness towards. I want you to forgive them for what they said or did to you.” What he asked was not easy. I was a person that held everything in and never let anything go. I didn’t want to let others off the hook. But didn’t Jesus let me off the hook? It wasn’t easy for Him to die on a cross, but He chose to so I would be forgiven of every offense past, present, and future.
Why was it so difficult for me to forgive a person of a single act?
It reminds me when we have a revelation of how much we have been forgiven, then we, in turn, will forgive much (Luke 7:47 NIV).
I left his office and drove straight to a park. I sat down and wrote my list, asking the Lord to show me every offense I was holding onto. Unfortunately, it was multiple pages of a notebook. As I went down my list forgiving everyone, I didn’t realize God answered my questions from months earlier. I sat there weeping, letting all the pain of my past go. God was cleansing me as I chose to forgive each person one by one. Honestly, I am weeping now, recalling it (not tears of pain, but of joy). After a couple of hours, I was done and was experiencing a peace I had never felt before.
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I hadn’t even left the park yet, and I received a call from my uncle. He had never called me before. Sure, I talked to him at family events, but we didn’t really have a good relationship. He asked me a question, “Chad, will you forgive me for anything I have ever done to you?” It was easy for me to say yes because he was a person on my list that I had just forgiven. Now, you might think that it was a coincidence, but I believe it was God affirming what I had just done. When I hung up the phone, I felt God say to me, “Chad, you have no idea what you just did, but you set yourself free!”