Today’s reading takes us to an unnamed woman who is physically bound by a disability that caused her to be hunched over for eighteen years.
Can you picture the woman standing in the temple? Her head is downcast—not by her own choice, but because of a painful disability. She walks with her feet to the ground. She can talk to others, but she cannot look up into their faces. It would be easy for someone like her to retreat and hide away. Being hunched over—bound up—limits so much.
I’ve never had a physical disability like this woman, but I’ve been “bound” just the same. There have been times I’ve had a really hard time forgiving others for hurting me, and I had a really hard time forgiving myself.
There is one example that stands out in my mind, and sometimes it’s hard to share. You see, when I was fifteen years old I found myself pregnant. Scared, confused, ashamed, I chose abortion. I carried the pain of that for ten years. I was disabled in life. Even though I’d dedicated my life to God at age seventeen, I was spiritually hunched over and couldn’t stand up straight for many years. Then Jesus called to me . . . and He brought me to Him.
“He placed his hands on her, and she immediately stood up straight and praised God,” (Luke 13:13 God’s Word)
Jesus placed His hands on me through a Bible Study called Forgiven and Set Free.
Just like the woman in Luke 13:10-17, my head was lifted. Forgiveness helped me to lift by eyes to my Savior and finally get a good look at the world around me.
It took God’s healing power to help me to forgive myself, and to forgive others. It took time to forgive my mom, who drove me to the abortion. (She thought she was helping me.) It took time to forgive my boyfriend who pushed me to abortion. Yet I’ve discovered that when we forgive we’re the ones who find freedom. Ken, Phil, and I talk about this in our book, Lead Your Family Like Jesus. Here is an excerpt from that book:
Many of us don’t understand what forgiveness is all about. It’s not forgetting or dismissing the impact of a wrong. It’s choosing not to let that wrong dominate the future of your life and relationships. Forgiveness is “giving” the infraction to God. It’s as if we’re saying, “Here You go, Father; this is no longer my concern. Please take care of the matter in Your wisdom and according to Your will.”
The price of forgiveness is letting go of the need to receive an apology or repayment for a wrong. If you hold on to either as a precondition of forgiveness, you’ll never have an unhindered heart.
You may understand all this, but inside you still may be fighting it: “I know it’s what I’m supposed to do, but I can’t do it in my own strength.” The good news is God doesn’t ask you to. Instead, He asks that you simply share your desire to forgive, and surrender to Him your unwillingness to forgive.
Create in me a pure heart, O God, and renew a steadfast spirit within me. (Psalm 51:10)
What happens when we ask God to make forgiveness possible in us? The reward is a heart freed of bitterness. There is also the potential of restored relationship and new hope and joy for the future! What could be better than that?
In the encouraging words sent to me recently by a friend, “The one who apologizes first is the bravest. The one who forgives first is the strongest. The one who forgets first is the happiest.”
There is never a good reason to forfeit peace and freedom to an unforgiving heart. Will you turn to God today to help you be a brave, strong, and happy family leader? He wants nothing more than that.
It’s from a place of freedom and truth that we lead our children best. If you need help, you know the One to speak to. He’s just a prayer away.
Friend, do you feel hunched over? Turn to Jesus. Ask Him to lift your head.