But in the end, it is you and I who end up hurting the most.
I try not to think of myself as an unforgiving person. Mind you, I might hold a grudge. I may want a pound of your flesh. I could want you to grovel and eat dirt.
But bitter and unforgiving, I most certainly am never.
Um, yeah. It is as ludicrous as it sounds….and it may sound familiar to you, too.
Unforgiveness is a plague, an epidemic that is dividing and conquering churches, families, and friends. It is one of the most effective tools in Satan’s arsenal.
And it is a slap in the face of a forgiving God.
Often when God wants to ingrain a truth deep into my heart, He teaches me through an analogy, as I love mental pictures.
As I thought on my struggles with unforgiveness, my mind drifted back to my recent trip to Colorado. While in Colorado, I enjoyed miles of wonderful hikes in Rocky Mountain National Park. The snow melt was reaching the lower altitudes and the rivers and streams were gloriously flowing. Watching the rushing rapids was breathtaking.
We stand on one side of the rapids. Hurt. Saddened. Wanting a pound of flesh. Or at least an apology.
But on the other side of the tumult, we see our Savior. Waiting, wooing us to rest in the comfort of His love.
Separating us are the Hurt & Pain Rapids, but above it, God’s grace and love has formed a bridge, protecting us from the treacherous waters. Forgiveness allows us to walk safely across the chasm and enter into the arms of our Savior.
However, unforgiveness changes that journey across the bridge. Instead of walking across the bridge by forgiving and leading the way for my offender to find that love, too, unforgiveness plots me a different trip across.
Unforgiveness is walking onto the bridge with an ax in your clenched fist. It makes you stop in the middle and start hacking away at the boards, tearing up the bridge as you try to keep love, forgiveness, and grace from your offender. You want to make them PAY and feel the same hurt you felt.
But as you swing at those boards, you fail to realize just how much damage you are doing. Not just to the poor sinner who hurt you, but to yourself.
Because you see, YOU are standing on that bridge. Each blow you make takes you closer and closer to the rapids—and farther and farther from a Father just waiting to wrap you in His loving arms and wipe away the tears from your eyes.
So the next time, I’m tempted to hold that grudge, lick those wounds, and show unforgiveness, I hope I remember that picture of the rushing rapids. I hope I lay my ax down and walk across that bridge with my hands empty.
Because waiting for me with all the love, care, and grace I could need is my Savior.
Just on the other side of the bridge crossing.