Welcome to Week 4 of Unashamed!
Last week was momentous, wasn’t it? Some of us have been wandering out a desert of shame and old hurts for way too long! How’d you do in your private or group study and in your personal study during the week? Come share what’s been happening in your heart and life through this study on our blog or in our private Facebook group!
We are so thrilled by how this study is impacting this community that stretches all around the world! We’ve have participants from all over the U.S. and also from Canada, South Africa, Dubai, Netherlands, Sweden, Namibia, Korea, Riyadh, Batam Island (Indonesia), Bermuda, Jamaica, Australia, Mexico, Norway, France, and more! Isn’t that exciting?
I know that we all would rather be “delivered from” the battles and wounds of this life, but sometimes God calls us to “walk through” instead. This week we’re in session four: “God Never Wastes a Hurt” where we’ll dig into the pain we’ve encountered and study how God brings good out of it!
This week for the study we will:
- Watch the video for session four on DVD or right here on FaithGateway. Don’t forget you have one week to watch the video!
- If you’re meeting with a small group, or in a church setting with others, or on your own, go through the discussion questions for session four in the Unashamed Study Guide (pages 71-83).
- For your personal study this week, read and journal in the Unashamed Study Guide (pages 84-94, the yellow section).
- Recommended (but optional) reading: Unashamed chapters 9-10 in the companion book, not study guide.
- Romans 8:28
- Genesis 50:15-21
- Ephesians 4:31-32
- Colossians 3:12-14
- Matthew 6:12, Matthew 6:14-15
A scar is a sign of victory, not defeat! — CC
Do you have a scar? Maybe it’s a mark from when you were a kid and you fell off your bike or swing set. I have a pencil eraser-sized divot on the side of my nose from when I had the chicken pox at five-years-old and a half-moon on my chin from when my sister stabbed me with the vacuum cleaner hose that same year. (We made up later.) I have various other dings, battle wounds, stretch marks and a C-section scar, but honestly the biggest scars I have are emotional, psychological, and spiritual.
I have wished at times that I could flash a big, pink, jagged scar and say, “See how bad that was?! That nearly killed me. I was in the ICU for 3 months, and went through a long rehab, but thank God, He got me through it.” Have you felt that way before? Like actual, physical scars would be easier to bear than invisible ones?
Dropping the Baggage
If we want to pick up our freedom, we have to be willing to drop the baggage. — CC
You know that thing where you feel completely at peace about an old conflict? You are ok about it now. You’ve forgiven. Been forgiven. Phew! Maturity and peace at last! It’s totally done, right?
Until you run into that person unexpectedly and your stomach squeezes up, your expression sours, and you maniacally duck behind cars in a parking lot and hide. And, all the while you’re thinking, What in the blue blazes is wrong with me? What am I… 12?
Or, if the situation cannot be avoided and you must have a polite interaction with this unfortunate old friend, and you suddenly feel the urge to bite them – hard? And, all the while you’re thinking I could totally do that right now and it would feel so stinkin’ awesome! What am I… in preschool?
I had a dream a while back that fully displayed the ugliness in my heart. I dreamt of a circumstance where I was at a social gathering and unexpectedly saw a person who has consistently been extremely difficult and caused a lot of pain over the years (self-righteously, aggressively, and absolutely unrepentantly). This person whom I thought I’d thoroughly forgiven ages ago (in a haven’t-even-thought-about-it-in-forever kind of way), walked up to me to start a conversation and my response was an emotional volcano eruption. Like a raving lunatic, I thrust both arms straight out, palms flat in the universal sign for Stop Right Where You Are, and said “NO! You need to back up far away from me. Right now.”
I woke up and thought,
Houston, we have a problem.
Obviously, I wasn’t done forgiving! Remembering how lavishly and freely the Lord has forgiven me for all the garbage I’ve done and messes I’ve made over the years, I had to go back to the Lord again over this old issue and ask Him to help me drop the baggage for good, completely forgive, and let any old bitterness be rooted out of my heart.
Get rid of all bitterness, rage and anger, brawling and slander, along with every form of malice. Be kind and compassionate to one another, forgiving each other, just as in Christ God forgave you. — Ephesians 4:31-32
As Christine talks about this week, only God can help us to forgive*** in the most brutal circumstances. But, He can and will do that if we ask and seek His help! I would imagine it took Joseph a long time to get to the place where he could put down the baggage of being sold into slavery by his own flesh and blood and, with love in his eyes, say to his brothers:
“Don’t be afraid. Am I in the place of God? You intended to harm me, but God intended it for good to accomplish what is now being done, the saving of many lives. So then, don’t be afraid. I will provide for you and your children.” And he reassured them and spoke kindly to them. — Genesis 50:19-21
It’s my job to be aware of my own sin and deal with that between me and God. Daily root out bitterness. Daily cut out self-righteousness. My heart and my standing with God is my concern. What I choose to do with His unimaginable love and forgiveness is my choice. I can either throw it away with scorn, sarcasm, division, anger and resentment, or rejoice in the goodness and mercy of what He has done for me and choose to leave the rest to Him. That’s easily said sitting in my comfy chair with a cup of pomegranate tea, but it is brutally hard in the face of radical, unapologetic betrayal.
Forgiveness really is a scandalous decision.
For God to forgive me and forgive you when we still choose to betray Him and His covenant over and over again – it’s nonsensical, preposterous. For you to forgive, for me to forgive – it’s 100% counter-culture. A rebel yell of Jesus-culture.
Therefore, as God’s chosen people, holy and dearly loved, clothe yourselves with compassion, kindness, humility, gentleness and patience. Bear with each other and forgive one another if any of you has a grievance against someone. Forgive as the Lord forgave you. And over all these virtues put on love, which binds them all together in perfect unity. — Colossians 3:12-14
It’s an act of brazen defiance against my own flesh. Choosing soft-heartedness is choosing to have your heart tenderized with a meat mallet. It’s painful. It’s bloody. It changes the shape of you. It changes your malleability. Lord, whatever You have to pound out, pound away.
But, it’s something we must do out of obedience to God and it is for our benefit. What do we get out of choosing to forgive others? FREEDOM! Freedom from resentment, anger, bitterness. Freedom to love those around us wholeheartedly. Freedom to live the abundant life (John 10:10).
Bear with each other and forgive whatever grievances you may have against one another. Forgive as the Lord forgave you. – Colossians 3:13
I have scars and so do you. They’re real, but they do not define us! No matter what has happened in our past, we can let go, forgive and remember But God!
But God!.. There is a But God factor. I don’t know what pit you’re in. I don’t know what prison you’re in right now but I do want to speak over your life “But God!”. God is going to turn this thing around. He’s going to redeem it. And, it is going to end up being for your good and for His great glory. — CC
And we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love him, who have been called according to his purpose. — Romans 8:28
Let’s take this challenge from the study guide:
This week we’ll take the Scar study. Don’t be afraid — this is gonna be good! Let look at our scars and the times we said we would and could never, never, never forgive that person, and ask the Lord to show us how to forgive. Let’s do it and find freedom!
Lord, thank You. Thank You that our scars are marks of victory, not shame. Thank You that we don’t have to be ashamed of what happened to us, what we’ve done, or what we’ve witnessed anymore because You’ve already paid for that and gave us the victory. Help us to walk in that freedom today. We trust You and we love You. Amen!
*** A Word about Forgiveness and Safety: Friends, remember that God’s command is to forgive, not “forgive and forget.” It doesn’t mean that we cannot still pray for God to deal with injustices in His perfect way (which we usually do not understand and sometimes takes a long, long, long time to come about). Depending on the situation, we might need to make wide, tall boundaries, or put safe “bodyguards” in place to handle unpredictable circumstances. We might even need to make a clean cut and stay away all together for safety’s and sanity’s sake. Particularly in cases of repeated abuse, it’s important to remember that there’s no command to forgive and forget. For a lot of women forgiving and forgetting has been tremendously dangerous. If you’re in an abusive situation, get out. Get out and get to a safe place. You can forgive from afar with people who will protect and care for you.