“You’re worthless! You’re stupid! You’ll never amount to anything!”

The clanking of heavy chains punctuated the harsh taunts as Gloria dragged Pastor Steve around the room of our East Asia Fresh Start seminar. Her sagging shoulders and pained expression revealed that this was more than just a role-play. Squirming in my seat, I cringed as the scenario was played out before me.

It had started with a question. “Who has hurt you the most in your life?” Pastor Steve had asked Gloria.

“My father,” she had responded without hesitation. “He is always criticizing me, always telling me I’m not good enough.” Though Gloria said she had forgiven him, it was clear that she was still affected by his negative opinion of her.

“I’m going to represent your father,” Pastor Steve had then explained. “I want you to wrap this chain around me and drag me around the room.” With a slightly skeptical look, Gloria agreed. But quickly the painful reality of what this represented became apparent. Gloria’s normally cheerful face clouded as Pastor Steve voiced the negative comments and criticism of her father. Soon she was in tears, as were most of the others in the room.

Forgiveness

After what seemed an eternity, Pastor Steve told her she could stop. “Do you want to keep dragging your father around with you?” he asked her gently. “Do you want to keep defining yourself by his opinion of you?” Gloria shook her head emphatically.

“Are you ready to forgive your father and let him go?” She threw down the chains she’d been holding as if they were poisonous snakes. “Yes! I want to forgive him.”

At Pastor Steve’s encouragement, Gloria prayed aloud, voice quavering with emotion. “God, I forgive my father for rejecting me, for criticizing me, for judging me. I don’t want to carry this bitterness anymore! I let it go right now!”

“Now do you want to hear what your Heavenly Father thinks about you?” asked Pastor Steve softly. “He says that you are beautiful, He says that you are precious, He says you are valuable, He says He has good plans for you. He says you are His beloved daughter, in whom He is well pleased! You have the best Papa! He loves you so much!” Tears rolled down Gloria’s cheeks as the truth of the words began to take effect.

“I have the best Papa! I have the best Papa!” A smile broke out as she repeated the words over and over. “I have the best Papa!”

Will You Forgive?

What about you? Are you dragging around someone that you haven’t forgiven? Is that person’s opinion of you drowning out what God says about you? You can’t fully receive the truth of who your Heavenly Father says you are until you FORGIVE the one who has hurt you, RELEASE the person and the effects to God, and allow Him to heal those deep wounds in your heart. Let go of bitterness and unforgiveness today and receive the love and acceptance that your Papa has for you! You have the best Papa anyone could ever have!

“I have loved you with an everlasting love…”
“…and underneath are the everlasting arms.”
Jeremiah 31:3a (NRSV), Deuteronomy 33:27a (NKJV)

Going Vertical!
MJ

Smile firmly in place, Marcos gave a firm handshake or a bear hug to each person who entered the room for the Fresh Start seminar. A friendly, easy-going guy, Marcos was the type of person you could talk to easily and feel comfortable around. He was excited about our visiting Fresh Start team and the week’s seminar on “Processing the Issues of Your Heart.” But there was something in his eyes, behind his smile. A hint of hidden pain.

Day after day, all through the week, Marcos listened attentively with the other participants in the seminar but didn’t talk much. Yet it was clear he was doing a lot of internal processing. Wide-eyed, he took in each story told by the Fresh Start team, writing copious notes.

“It was something that happened when I was a child,” he said when asked to identify the person or loss he was processing that week. Though he didn’t share any more details, he told us that he felt shame because of that experience. “It’s affected all my relationships, including my relationship with God.”

On the last day, Marcos finally gave us a glimpse of what he’d been processing. He started by reading aloud from Romans 9:20-21. “But who are you, O man, to talk back to God? Shall what is formed say to him who formed it, ‘Why did you make me like this?’ Does not the potter have the right to make out of the same lump of clay some pottery for noble purposes and some for common use?”

“All my life I’ve felt like I was born for ‘common use,’ ” Marcos confessed softly. “I’ve felt I was created for dishonor, for shame. God seemed far away.” He was silent for a moment, then continued. “But this week God has told me, ‘You thought I was far away. But I’ve been walking with you .’ Now my eyes are open and I can see all the good things He has done for me.”

“I’ve felt so much change in my heart,” Marcos continued, a grin spreading over his face. “I feel healed, able to forgive, able to let God fill my heart. Now I know that I wasn’t created for common use. I wasn’t created for shame. And I want people to know that no one is created for common use.”

The transformation was evident in Marcos as he summed up his week’s experience. “I’m re-born. I’m ready for God to deposit more in my life. It’s a new page. A new beginning!”

Has an event or hurt from your past left you feeling ashamed, dirty, rejected, abandoned, or unwanted? That experience doesn’t have to DEFINE you. You are NOT a sum total of your life’s experiences! Ask the Lord to help you identify the lingering residue of hurts or losses in your life, to forgive those who have offended or hurt you, and to remove those untrue “labels” of shame, rejection, or dishonor. Ask Him to show you who He says you are. He says you are Beautiful. Valued. Loved. Accepted. Secure. God didn’t create you for common use. God created you for something special!

Going Vertical!
MJ

“For I know the plans I have for you,” declares the Lord, “plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future.” Jeremiah 29:11