Okay, I have a confession to make. I am not perfect (in fact, I have a long list of things that God is working out in me) and sometimes I don’t know where to go! That happened this weekend.
I have a Little Friend (LF) who comes over to our house often and who struggles with her Dad. Sometimes it gets pretty volatile at her Dad’s house and she ends up very angry with him. The fights between them have been getting uglier and uglier and unreasonable threats now loom over her. The threats are punishments that are meant to manipulate and not to teach. I see her pulling away from him a little more each time. The worst part is seeing the hate start to simmer inside her heart. Not a healthy situation, especially for a young teenager who is already struggling with emotions.
Ephesians 6:4 NLT And now a word to you fathers. Don’t make your children angry by the way you treat them. Rather, bring them up with the discipline and instruction approved by the Lord.
We have talked many times about looking at her Dad as someone who is himself struggling due to abuse he received as a child. We discussed the value of pulling away as a person and looking at him as a broken child who needs something and doesn’t know where to get it. We have both prayed on many occasions that he would find healing and deliverance from these strongholds. Hope is always present.
Unfortunately, as she gets older and develops her personality, she now fights back. We’ve talked about honoring and obeying her father regardless of his treatment of her. A very difficult thing to do – but this command comes with a promise:
Ephesians 6:2-3 NLT Children, obey your parents because you belong to the Lord, for this is the right thing to do. “Honor your father and mother.” This is the first of the Ten Commandments that ends with a promise. And this is the promise: If you honor your father and mother, “you will live a long life, full of blessing.”
LF tries, but in the heat of the moment it all explodes and she can’t remember how to deal with it.
This past weekend was the worst so far, and for the first time since I’ve known her, I could see the hate lingering, the resentment building, and some very unhealthy attitudes developing that were affecting her relationship with others in her life. I could see some passive-aggressive tendencies starting to develop in order to get back at her Dad. She did not want to forgive - LF was holding a grudge.
Where Do I Go?
My soul was troubled all weekend long. I found myself praying because I was now at a loss for words – I had no direction. I kept asking God to show me where He wanted me to go to help LF. What did He want her to learn? What were we missing? My heart was breaking for this little girl and I was sad at the path she was starting to follow – a dead-end path.
Sunday, I went to Church praying that my Pastor would deliver the answer. I was desperate.
Sure enough, My Lord did not let me down – again! Funny how He never does.
He opened with the following verses:
Romans 12:14-21 NIV 14Bless those who persecute you; bless and do not curse. 15Rejoice with those who rejoice; mourn with those who mourn. 16Live in harmony with one another. Do not be proud, but be willing to associate with people of low position. Do not be conceited. 17Do not repay anyone evil for evil. Be careful to do what is right in the eyes of everybody. 18If it is possible, as far as it depends on you, live at peace with everyone. 19Do not take revenge, my friends, but leave room for God’s wrath, for it is written: “It is mine to avenge; I will repay,” says the Lord. 20On the contrary: “If your enemy is hungry, feed him; if he is thirsty, give him something to drink. In doing this, you will heap burning coals on his head.” 21Do not be overcome by evil, but overcome evil with good.
I could now see where My God was going. It got even better when Pastor Steve indicated that “the enemy” here isn’t the type that we read about concerning persecutions such as the early Christians experienced. He’s talking about the jerks. People that just don’t like you, or are mean to you, or pick on you, the ones that cut you off when you’re driving, etc.
Then, to top it all off, Pastor Steve shared how a man he is counseling, had a Dad that was a jerk. His Dad was a horrible father who physically abused his son, did not praise him, didn’t show him the love that a father should show. In the end, a root of bitterness and hate had dug deep into this man’s heart and now he has to deal with it. He is working on forgiving his Dad but is struggling with it.
NOW I knew God was telling me where to go!
After the sermon, we prayed for an open heart for my Little Friend, that God would plant seeds and help her. I spent the rest of the day Sunday praying for her. I knew that God was the only One who could open her heart and who could speak into her. He was the only one who could give me the Wisdom and the Words to speak – the scriptures He wanted me to share. The One who could soften her up and teach her something. After all:
Philippians 1:6 …He who began a good work in you will carry it on to completion until the day of Christ Jesus.
So It Begins
I had an opportunity to speak with LF on Monday. As I sat sharing my struggles over the weekend, my prayers and how God answered them during the sermon, her eyes got wider and wider. She now knew that God was Supernaturally at work here. She knew that God was directly answering a prayer. Her eyes filled up with tears.
We talked about living in harmony and doing our best to live at peace with others. Especially the ones that are difficult to live with.
Matthew 5:23-24 “Therefore, if you are offering your gift at the altar and there remember that your brother has something against you, leave your gift there in front of the altar. First go and be reconciled to your brother; then come and offer your gift.”
Her Dad “had something against” LF because in the heat of the moment she had disrespected him. It is important that she always treat him with respect because that was important to God.
Since I could identify in LF the desire to see her father punished, we discussed the part where revenge belongs to the Lord. That’s the hardest part for us humans. We want to see the other one learn that particular lesson. But God is the Ultimate Teacher and it’s up to Him how He will teach it.
The interesting part was what Pastor Steve said about the heaping “burning coals on his head” statement. I’ve always thought it meant that if we do good to our enemies, and feed them when they are hungry, or give them something to drink when they are thirsty, then we can sit back and watch how God heaps those hot, burning coals on their heads and we will receive some sort of satisfaction knowing that they got what they deserved. (If you are reading this Pastor Steve, I’m paraphrasing… you said it much better than I ever could!)
Actually, he pointed out, that’s not what it means. This is a refining process. It is more of a true repentance process. As you do good to your enemy, your actions cause them to look at their own actions and behaviors and they become ashamed of how they are treating you. They repent.
I say that’s the best way! A true change of heart and a healing for the enemy. God is so wise.
It’s All about Love
I confessed to LF that there were many times I was for the other type of pouring those “burning coals on his head” as I gleefully did good to the enemy. She laughed and admitted that she liked it that way, too.
But, I pointed out, when love is present, that desire goes away and you would rather see them healed and free from all strongholds.
As Paul said:
1 Corinthians 13:1-3 1If I speak in the tongues of men and of angels, but have not love, I am only a resounding gong or a clanging cymbal. 2If I have the gift of prophecy and can fathom all mysteries and all knowledge, and if I have a faith that can move mountains, but have not love, I am nothing. 3If I give all I possess to the poor and surrender my body to the flames, but have not love, I gain nothing.
Love is the whole key. When you love with the Love of God, you do want was is best for your enemy. You don’t want to see them hurt. And God gives us that love.
I told LF sometimes it’s impossible to get my flesh to do what it’s supposed to do. That’s when I rely on Him.
Philippians 2:13 NLT For God is working in you, giving you the desire to obey him and the power to do what pleases him.
He helps me when I cannot do it on my own.
That’s when she brought up:
Philippians 4:13 NKJV I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me.
I Have to Forgive??
I related my own experience to LF. I had a lot of bitterness and resentment towards my own father, which I carried around for most of my life. This led to some heavy duty anger issues and a hate for men. It affected my relationships with other people, including my own children. It took God to heal me of all that. I was able to forgive my father; I can now look back on him with fondness. He wasn’t the best father, but I love him nonetheless. And I am free to love him without any resentment.
I told LF that when God forgives us, He forgets it. He doesn’t bring up the past. I know that when I go to Heaven, He’s not going to remind of certain things that I did at the age of 15 or 27, which were quite horrible. We owe God the same by forgiving those who hurt us. If we don’t forgive, He is unable to forgive.
Matthew 6:15 NIV But if you do not forgive men their sins, your Father will not forgive your sins.
I could tell by the look in LF’s eyes that this was going to be a very difficult thing to do. She didn’t feel as if she could forgive her Dad.
I asked her if we could pray. I knew that God would help her because He helped me to forgive my Dad. LF agreed. We prayed and with a little prompting, she took over to offer forgiveness. The stumbling block was to forgive all the past wrongs and forget them. She started and stopped a couple of times, but He helped her and she was able to release her Dad from the hurts. She was able to forgive him.
She admitted to feeling better afterwards and I could see the softness back in her eyes. Phew!
All in all, it was a very Supernatural Experience – but then My God is Supernatural.