I am Fine

An incident occurred in my life involving someone in the ministry. This extreme offense I experienced was not isolated but was one of several with this person that intensified over a year and a half.

Everyone around me knew what was going on. "Aren't you hurt?" They asked me. "What are you going to do? Are you just going to stand back and take it?"

"I'm fine," I said. "It hasn't affected me. I'm going on with the call on my life."

But my answer was nothing more than pride. I was extremely hurt but denied it, even to myself. I would spend hours trying to figure out how all this could happen to me. I was in shock, numb, and amazed. But I suppressed these thoughts and put on a strong front when in reality I was weak and deeply injured.

Months went by. Everything seemed dry, the ministry was stale, my prayer closet was lonely, and I was in torment. I fought devils daily. I thought all the resistance was because of the call on my life, but in actuality it was the torment from my unforgiveness.

Every time I was around this man I came away feeling spiritually beat up.

Then came the morning I will never forget. I was sitting on the deck in my backyard praying. "Lord, am I hurt?" I asked. No sooner had these words left my lips when I heard a shout deep in my spirit: Yes!

God wanted to make sure I knew I was hurt.

"God, please help me get out of this hurt and offense," I pleaded. "It is too much for me to handle."

This was exactly where the Lord wanted me-at the end of myself. Too often we try to do things in the strength of our souls. This does not cause us to grow spiritually. Instead, we become more susceptible to falling.

The first step to healing and freedom is to recognize you are hurt. Often pride does not want us to admit we are hurt and offended. Once I admitted my true condition, I sought the Lord and was open to His correction.

I sensed that the Lord wanted me to fast for a few days. Fasting would put me in a position of being sensitive to the voice of His Spirit and provide other benefits as well.

Is this not the fast that I have chosen to loose the bonds of wickedness, to undo the heavy burdens, to let the oppressed go free, and that you break every yoke? Isaiah 58:6

I was ready for those bonds of wickedness to be broken and to be free from oppression.

A few days later I was attending a funeral service. The man who had offended me was there also. I watched him from the back of the church and began to weep. "Lord, I forgive him. I release him from everything he has done." Immediately I felt the burden lift. I had forgiven him. What relief flooded me!

But this was only the beginning of my road to recovery. In my heart I had forgiven, but I wasn't aware of the extent of the wound. I was still vulnerable and could be hurt again. It was just like recovering from a physical injury. I needed to exercise, to strengthen my heart, mind, and emotions to prevent any future injuries.

A few months went by. Occasionally I had to fight off some of the same thoughts I'd had before I forgave. A person hurt in the same manner might bring their complaint to me, or perhaps I would see the man or hear his name. I rejected these thoughts as soon as I noticed them and cast them down (see 2 Corinthians 10:5). This was my exercising or striving to stay free.

Finally I asked the Lord how to keep these thoughts from drawing me back into unforgiveness. I knew He desired a higher level of freedom for me, and I did not want to live the rest of my life holding offense at arm's length. The Lord instructed me to pray for the man who had hurt me, reminding me of His words: But I say to you, love your enemies, bless those who curse you, do good to those who hate you, and pray for those who spitefully use you and persecute you. Matthew 5:44

So I prayed. At first it was in a dry, monotone voice, without a hint of passion. Out of obligation I would add, "Lord, bless him. Give him a good day. Help him in all he does. In Jesus' name, amen."

This continued for a few weeks. I seemed to be getting nowhere. Then one morning the Lord impressed Psalm 35 upon me. I had no idea what was in Psalm .35 so I turned to it and began to read. When I got halfway, I saw my situation.

Fierce witnesses rise up; they ask me things that I do not know. They reward me evil for good, to the sorrow of my soul. Psalm 35:11-12

I could identify with David. In my opinion both the man and some of his associates had rewarded me evil for good. My soul was definitely in sorrow. God was using this psalm to point out my battle for those last few years. One passage made me jump almost high enough to hit the ceiling.

But as for me, when they were sick, my clothing was sackcloth; I humbled myself with fasting; and my prayer would return to my own heart. I paced about as though he were my friend or brother; I bowed down heavily, as one who mourns for his mother. Psalm 35:13-14, Italics added David said that these men were trying to destroy him. They attacked him with evil when he had done nothing to merit it. Then came my answer: "But as for me. . . . " David's response was not based on the actions of others. Determined to do what was right, he prayed for them as if they were his close brothers or as one grieving the loss of a mother. God was showing me how to pray for this man: "Pray the very things for him that you want Me to do for you!"

Now my prayers totally changed. It was no longer, "God bless him and give him a good day." It became infused with life. I prayed, "Lord, reveal Yourself to him in a greater way. Bless him with Your presence. Let him know You more intimately. May he be pleasing to You and bring honor to Your name." I prayed what I wanted God to do in my own life.

Within a month of praying passionately for him, I cried with a loud voice, "I bless you! I love you in the name of Jesus!" It was a cry from deep within my spirit. I had gone from praying for him for my sake to praying for him for his sake. I believed the healing was totally complete.

A few more weeks passed, and I saw him again. An uncomfortable sensation lingered in my heart. I still fought the urge to be critical.

"You need to go to him, John," my wife encouraged me. "No, I don't," I assured her.

"I am healed now."

But I sensed that the Holy Spirit did not bear witness with what I had just said. So I asked the Lord if I needed to go to him. He said yes.

I made an appointment with the man and brought him a gift. I humbled myself, confessed my wrong attitude, and asked his forgiveness. We were reconciled, and forgiveness and healing flowed into my heart.

I walked out of his office healed and strengthened. I no longer had to fight the pain, nor was I critical of him. Our relationship has been strong since then, and we have never had another problem. In fact, we are very supportive of each other.

"When I first met that man," I told Lisa, "he could do no wrong in my eyes. I saw no faults in him. I loved him because I thought he was perfect. But when I was hurt it was hard to love him. It took every bit of faith I had. Now that I have gone through this restoration process and have been healed, I love him with the same intensity as when I first met him, in spite of any faults. It's a mature love."

This Scripture verse came to mind:

And above all things have fervent love for one another, for "love will cover a multitude of sins." 1 Peter 4:8 It is easy to love those who can do no wrong in our eyes. That's honeymoon love. It is another thing to love someone when we can see their faults, especially when we've been the victim of them. The love of God was maturing me, strengthening my heart.

Since then, similar cases have come up, but it has taken no time at all to release the offense. The reason: My heart was exercised to stay free from offense.

Several months went by from the time God spoke to me in my backyard until I walked out of the man's office healed. That was a training period in which my heart was exercised and strengthened. During those months I seemed at times to be getting nowhere. In fact, I wondered if I had grown worse.

But I was on the sure road to recovery. The Spirit of the Lora led me at a pace I could handle. It was part of my maturing process. I would not trade that experience and am thankful for the growth it brought to my life.

Bevere, John. The Bait of Satan. Lake Mary, Florida, Charisma House, 1997, p. 156-161. Www.charismahouse.com

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