Affairs. Divorce. Despitefully used. Free will. Forgiveness. No record of wrongs. Freedom through death.
My parents have a past. They did before they were married. They joined their lives and became one flesh agreeing that no man could separate what God had put together. Together they worked and moved, raised four kids and dreamed big dreams. They loved each other. They loved us kids. They loved Jesus.
Wounds from my Mom’s past weren’t let go of. Lust was fostered by my Dad. He chose infidelity. His justifications for this choice aren’t impressive. He had a couple affairs, wronging all of us, himself, and the other women and their families. He grieved Holy Spirit.
I had noticed crazy tension between my parents and, having always been close with my Dad, I asked what was going on. He didn’t tell me the truth. I asked my Mom and wouldn’t let her blow me off. I was shocked by the news she shared. Shocked, betrayed, hurt, heart-broken, but my first response was, “Have you forgiven him?” I knew that freedom was precious and for all our hearts to be freed and heal we needed to forgive immediately and completely — to set my Dad free. He had admitted he knew his actions were selfish. He told me he never considered how it would affect us kids. Sin is blindly destructive like that.
The second time around I was far more shocked, believe it or not, and far more heart-broken. It ripped our family apart. It tore another family apart. Many wrongs were suffered. Dad carried himself like nothing had happened and all was as it had been. Destroying your own life and being destructive to the ones you love the most isn’t easy to face. Impossible even.
For months my parents went through the messy, rotten process of divorce. I believed for miraculous reconciliation. I fasted and prayed hoping to see breakthrough and deep repentance from my Dad. I spoke a lot of life and refused to agree with the anger and hurt my mom’s heart expressed. Unfortunately they finalized the divorce days before Luke and my wedding. Id been confused about how to interact with my Dad so I had avoided him. I wanted to walk uprightly but I didn’t really know how to do this thing called: “bless those who curse you, pray for those who despitefully use you.” Having him walk me down the aisle was a redemptive symbol of reconciliation through wonderful grace.
Let me teach you what Ive learned, and am learning, about how it is done.
- “Let everything be done in love.” I remember telling a friend that I knew I needed to continue to love my dad but I was finding it hard to because of how “unloveable” he was being. She corrected me with the wonderful truth that no one is unloveable no matter what they do. Even murderers and adulterers and abusers and liars are SO loved by God that He gave Jesus in order to free and cleanse and restore them to Himself because He deeply longs for them to be near Him. If He loves them, they can’t be unloveable. I had loved people who had done terrible things before. The fact that it was my Dad didn’t exclude him from such a grace.
- “Love keeps no record of wrongs.” I recently heard Kris Vallaton say that when you forgive someone you forfeit all right to hold or use that wrong against the person ever again. In fact it wipes the slate completely clean so that you may only operate toward them as though they never even did whatever it was that was wrong. Love doesn’t ever say, “Shame on you!” it only takes shame off of each other.
- “Whoever loses his life will save it.” Anger or fear are forms of self-protection… Being wronged and feeling owed a righting of those wrongs… The entitlement of bitterness or self-pity… Talking about my Dad shamefully instead of honorably… None of these are right, praise worthy, or acceptable. They’re all about trying to save your own life and they all lead, instead, to losing it. You do yourself, the Body, and unbelievers a great disservice by spending any time that way. The greatest realization of my life, daily, is Christ crucified. It frees me from me. The Bible says my real life is hidden with God in Christ Jesus. By believing in Jesus I reconcile myself dead in Christ’s death 2,000 years ago at Calvary. The most freeing truth is that Im not my own, the life I now live I live as dead and alive again in Christ alone. Being free from me means I am free from trying to save my life, self-protect or preserve it, and fight against flesh and blood whenever a wrong is done to me. Im freed from being compelled to deal out the justice of punishment (the glory of the Law) and instead get to deal out the justice of mercy, of living at peace with everyone, and of ministering reconciliation/wholeness (the glory of the Gospel) to others. I dont need God to fight my cause, He already defended me completely by giving me the new life of living laid down — free from me. I don’t need my Dad to be a good Dad or for him to be a good Husband to my Mom in order for me to love and honor him, because my well being and worth is not determined by his life lived, but only by Jesus’ sufficiency.
How to interact with my Dad has been made very free and clear by the glorious, scandalous Good News. How to interact with his girlfriend, another man’s wife, doesn’t need to be any less clear. All I know is Jesus, and what He sees when he looks at her is a daughter He’s longing to have reconciled to Himself through the freeing power of faith — for her to receive death to herself and life in Him, to be freed from all sin and brought close to Him by His blood. In His presence is fullness of joy and pleasures forevermore. My Dad and her may not realize it but thats the satisfaction their souls are grasping for. They didn’t find it in their spouses and they won’t find it in each other. They can’t find it in their kids or incomes or possessions. They were made to be one with Jesus and as long as they are living separated from Him they’ll be lost. I get to present the key to their freedom, cleansing, reconciliation, and satisfaction with my life lived. That is my only right in all interactions with them — ’til Kingdom come. I love my parents.
Truly ALL things can be done through Christ whose strength is really shown perfect through our weak spots.
|credit: Ryan Lucas|