By Pastor Rick Duncan
Several months ago, my friend’s dad was dying in the hospital with severe liver failure due to alcoholism. It had been years since my friend had talked to his dad. Why? Here’s what he wrote to me on Facebook.
Rick, I hate him. I hate him for all the abuse he put me through and the beatings my mother endured as well as me. Every time he beat me even as a 6 year old child he would rip the clothes of my back, beat me with his fists, and then tell me he loved me while bear hugging me. I will never forget the stench of alcohol on his breath each time and it was often. My dad let us starve growing up, never paying child support or helping with anything and he has the nerve to call us his boys.
My friend had heard a message on forgiveness at CVC. He said that it hit hard. And then he got the call that his dad is in the hospital. He wrote to me for some advice.
I am faced with his possible death this morning. How can I hate him so and forgive and love him? I don’t want to see him Pastor. I feel like I have nothing to give and nothing to say.
I let my friend know that forgiving doesn’t mean forgetting or that he would be letting his dad off the hook. I encouraged him to not let his feelings control his behavior – that we live by faith, not feelings. I encouraged him to live the exchanged life – to live out Galatians 2:20 which says, “It is not I who lives, but Christ lives in me.”
I received a note back on Facebook.
Thank you. I’m not going to see him. Christ within me is going to see him tomorrow. In Jesus’ name and by His grace go I.
I waited and wondered how things would go. Here’s the report:
I went today. It was certainly the power of Christ that got me there and the compassion of Christ that let me stay. As difficult as it was, I praise God I was obedient.
Pastor, I get it. I really get it. I just remove “me” from the equation and allow Christ to work through me.
It seems today the air is fresher, the sky is bluer and a stronghold is torn down. Who I am has changed and been transformed once again in my walk. For 5 years I’ve been captive to this. I’m [now] contagious with a virus of forgiveness.
God is changing lives and mending families right here at CVC. My friend has forgiven his dad and good is happening in his family. The Breath of God has been blowing into this man’s life. How about you? How about me? We don’t want to miss this.
Who has hurt you? What circumstances tempt you to be bitter, resentful, unforgiving? And what might have to happen for you to come together with that person before it’s too late?