Whenever Joe thought of Dan, he became enraged. Dan greatly cost Joe when he robbed him in a business partnership.
Whenever Joe thought of his neighbor Lucy, he resented the way she raked most of her fall leaves into his yard, year after year. He had seen her do that himself, yet when he pointed it out she denied it. Heat rose up his shirt collar when she worked in her yard.
He wanted to beat the daylights out of his neighbor Sam, across the street. Sam borrowed a perfectly working snow blower and returned it broken, after he cleared his rocky driveway more than once. Sam then told Joe the blower never worked.
He still held a huge grudge for his old college pal, Bruce. That “pal” dated the girl he knew Joe had his heart on and was working on asking her out; though Bruce had plenty of choices.
But the worst wounds had been perpetrated by his own family. His father walked out on him and his sister when they were young, leaving their distraught mother with a huge load to carry by herself.
Then there was Uncle Harry pretending to friend Joe, to be a father image; and shamed Joe at the age of nine.
There was his very own sister Anna. Yes, he was especially hateful towards her. The only one Joe thought he could trust. He mistakenly thought Anna betrayed him. His cousin, Max, insisted that Anna cheated him out of a part of his inheritance when their mother died. What Joe did not know was that couldn’t be farther from the truth.
Anna loved him and had no such intention at all, nor did she ever stoop so low. Max had a twisted agenda because he was angry at Joe’s “allegations” about his father, Joe’s Uncle Harry, years before. Nevertheless, Joe lost trust in everyone around him and never trusted Anna again. He hadn’t talked to her for a decade, and refused to give her a chance to say her side of the story. The anger that should have been placed on Max, he drenched Anna with.
One day the Lord had a good talk with Joe.
“Joe, you know you are my child and I love you. Don’t you know that bitterness you carry around with you is not only hurting your relationship with me, but also causing your soul to decay little-by-little each day?
“But Lord, those people are awful. Some of them even claim to share your name! Then there are those that are just plain evil. How can I possibly not be angry at them for what they have done?”
“Joe, my dear son, yes, you have indeed experienced plenty of heartache. Some of those deeds have been downright wicked. But these are all people infected with the same disease of sin as you are. Its only antidote is the shed blood of My Son on the cross just as it is for you. “
“I know you have felt much pain. But don’t forget My strength is enough for you to lean on. Lean on me dear son. Trust me. Let go of these bitter thoughts. Do you realize not one of these people are afflicted by any thoughts of these deeds you won’t let go of? These thoughts only curse you.”
“Curse me? That’s crazy, how?”
God showed Joe how much his bitterness was eating him to pieces. Joe discovered that while he thought he was holding something against these people, in his heart these people were the ones holding him prisoner. Then the Lord said:
“Do not repay evil with evil or insult with insult. On the contrary, repay evil with blessing, because to this you were called so that you may inherit a blessing.” 1st Peter 3:9; Romans 12:14; Luke 6:28
“If it is possible, as far as it depends on you, live at peace with everyone.” Romans 12: 18
Joe gave his conversation with God much thought. One day it suddenly flashed in his mind that God was right! Though some of these people had committed great crimes against him, he had only been poisoning himself.
Joe wanted an end to that poison, and He took God’s advice to heart. He changed his thinking for these people.
Of Dan he would think: “The Lord Bless thee.”
Of Lucy: “The Lord keep thee.”
Of Sam: “The Lord set his eyes to shine upon thee.”
Of Bruce: “The Lord be gracious unto thee.”
Joe’s father and Uncle Harry had died. Joe wrote each of them a letter forgiving them for the deep wounding they caused a small boy, and buried the letters in his back yard with a cross made out of twigs.
Of Anna: “The lord Lift up his countenance upon thee, and give thee peace.”
Joe still struggled with his perceived thoughts of Anna’s betrayal, and asked the Lord to let him know the truth. He decided he would need some time, but he would contact her and hear her side of the story.
Joe couldn’t believe the amazing freedom he now felt.
He discovered that he had been emotionally slicing his own wrists while expecting his offenders to be the ones to bleed out!
It took a great deal of retraining of his mind to let go of the heartache, to trust God, and lean on Him. But after some painful internal house cleaning, Joe was able to let go.
He was amazed with each new day as the sun somehow felt warmer.
His morning coffee now tasted richer, stronger.
His frayed lazy boy chair felt more inviting than ever.
He could lose himself in the birds’ songs outside his windows now.
His evening vanilla ice-cream took on a new creaminess.
He appreciated the new joy he found with each step he took out of his poisonous prison.
Joe’s heart was now at peace with God and man.
Joe’s benediction is found in Numbers 6:24-25
Found image on Facebook.
By ~ Elizabeth Yalian 2013 ©http://hiseyeisonthissparrow.com.