THE 4GIVENESS FACTOR
Holding the second set of divorce papers in hand, I felt like the mailbox I pulled them from. Always getting only to give away with nothing left for myself.
I had recovered from the wounds of the first marriage, found a path of forgiveness where we could co-exist so our son might thrive. Doing what needed to be done for our child gave purpose to our cultivation of peace. But my son was becoming a man. My healing could not be solely on his behalf. This time, I had to focus on me.
"What Am I Supposed to Do With This?"
The wounds were still fresh from my second marriage. In the aftermath, there was a phrase I would repeat to myself almost daily as I wrestled with my new reality:
"This was supposed to be the one!"
The loss of love devastated me, but it wasn't the only loss. I had made sacrifices, gave parts of me I could not get back, poured out to the point of empty. Now, all that remained was this internal heavy-weight fight between me and what I had in mind. With the ringing of the bell, I thought the battle was over only to hear another and be forced back into this cage match.
"God, what am I supposed to do with this?", was also something that stuck with me in that season.
Welcome to my Gethsemane.
A Season of Gethsemane
Then Jesus went with his disciples to a place called Gethsemane, and he said to them, “Sit here while I go over there and pray.” He took Peter and the two sons of Zebedee along with him, and he began to be sorrowful and troubled. Then he said to them, “My soul is overwhelmed with sorrow to the point of death. Stay here and keep watch with me.” ~Matthew 26:36-38, New International Version
We make lite of the fact that the word "Gethsemane" means pressing until we find ourselves amongst the olive trees,
but we all need a place to purge.
We all need to articulate
But we must also protect ourselves from the temptation that comes with a purge by surrendering ourselves to Heaven's arc of safety.
“Here’s what I want you to do: Find a quiet, secluded place so you won’t be tempted to role-play before God. Just be there as simply and honestly as you can manage. The focus will shift from you to God, and you will begin to sense his grace.
“The world is full of so-called prayer warriors who are prayer-ignorant. They’re full of formulas and programs and advice, peddling techniques for getting what you want from God. Don’t fall for that nonsense. This is your Father you are dealing with, and he knows better than you what you need. ~Matthew 6:6-13, The Message Translation
In the privacy of Gethsemane, Jesus wrestled with his pain until he sweat blood.
Going a little farther, he fell with his face to the ground and prayed, “My Father, if it is possible, may this cup be taken from me." ~Matthew 26:36-39, New International Version
If the Son of God needed to purge before his process, don't you?
Jesus himself tells us in Matthew 6 what happens when we trust God with our purge:
The focus will shift from you to God, and you will begin to sense his grace. (Jesus in Matthew 6:6 MSG)
Yet not as I will, but as you will.” (Jesus in Matthew 26:39 NIV)
And yet, this appeal was not the end of the fight. The Son of Man went two more rounds in the cool of the garden. And although the struggle was still real, his response began to shift from his pain to God's power:
He went away a second time and prayed, “My Father, if it is not possible for this cup to be taken away unless I drink it, may your will be done.” Matthew 6:42 NIV
Through the purge, Christ not only accepted the assignment, he also began to understand it. He submitted the controlling nature of his feelings for a greater purpose.
There Is Life After Death
After the Upper Room and in the shadows of Judas' impending betrayal, our Sweet Jesus was overwhelmed to the point of death. But he knew who to run to. Throughout his ministry, he was intentional about his time away with God. Why would he do different now?
What will you do now?
Purging with God kills the pride that keeps you fighting a never-ending battle. It's time to take off the gloves,
lift holy hands,
cry in the shower,
scream in the car,
do whatever is necessary so you can begin to sense his grace.
Grace. It's what prepares you to forgive.
It is life after the point of death.
Never deny yourself the opportunity to abide in God's grace.
Over and over, God gave me the grace to be human after my divorce so I could accept and understand the assignment of modeling his act of forgiveness in my life.
But first, I needed to purge and so do you.
What are you supposed to do with this?
Don't run from it.
Run to Christ.
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