By Don Gentry
Have You Been Forgiven?
Have you ever received forgiveness for a wrong you committed and had a physical and emotional weight lifted off your shoulders? The weight of our shame can often become debilitating. I remember in the summer of 2004 I was sitting at my desk preparing a message for the teens in Oak Harbor, OH. As I was sitting there, God downloaded in me a message of forgiveness that I have never felt before.
Four years prior to that day I had to file bankruptcy for a failed publishing and marketing business I had bought in MN. It was a promising franchise opportunity. Let’s just say the promising opportunity went great for 9 months and then it fizzled like a fart in gale force winds. I went from making well over six figures a year to $1,200 a month. To say we lost everything would be an understatement.
Let’s go back to my desk four years later. Thanks to the guilt and counsel from other pastors and spiritual mentors, I had a special file with all my debtors and investors that I had failed. I had it down to the penny who I owed from my Bankruptcy. It was an albatross around my neck. As a youth pastor I had no idea how I would ever pay everyone back, but I was holding on to the guilt and shame so that someday I would make it ALL right. I was going to repay every penny I owed!
As I was sitting at my desk preparing my lesson for the week, God reached into my heart and said “who do you need to forgive?” I was baffled. I really couldn’t figure out what He was talking about. I began to pray and seek God to try and figure out what He meant. I don’t think I have ever held a grudge in my life, so I really didn’t know who I needed to forgive. (Feel free to check with my wife and children if you don’t believe me). After a couple hours of prayer He revealed to me that I hadn’t ever forgiven myself for my bankruptcy.
He was so right. In order to make a long story short, the conversation went something like this. “Have I forgiven you?” My answer to Him was “yes.” “Have the banks forgiven you?” “Yes.” “Have your creditor’s and lenders forgiven you?” “Yes.” “So who hasn’t forgiven you?” “No one.”
I am a little dense, but it finally hit me that the file in my desk was physical evidence that I had never forgiven myself for my clear and measurable failure. I cannot begin to express the weight that was lifted off my shoulders after this time of prayer. After I figured out what God was saying, I immediately drove home, explained in a frenzy to Stacy what had happened. She agreed and understood, so I grabbed the “file” and started a fire in our wood stove and literally watched the guilt and shame go up in flames.
I wish that every moment of guilt and shame were so easy to explain, understand, and resolve. If you want to know how to walk in personal freedom then you have to join us Sunday morning so you can learn how you can be healed from the unnecessary weight of guilt and shame in your life. I can’t wait to share with you the message of God’s incredible freedom. See you all Sunday!