I remember the first time I really understood what happened to the children of Israel in the wilderness. I was amazed… They wandered in the wilderness for forty years along a route that only took eleven days to travel. Because of disobedience, they missed out on the ‘land flowing with milk and honey’ until forty years later.
Aren’t we all just like that sometimes? Have you ever received an order from God like the one God gave them in the first chapter of Deuteronomy. He said: “You have stayed long enough at this mountain. Break camp and advance… See, I have given you this land. Go in and take possession of the land…”
The Spirit further ministered to me that I could choose the (short) route of obedience or the (much longer and intense) route of rebellion. I was convicted, but still found God’s request rather challenging for me, although it was very simple. All He asked me to do was to FORGIVE. What?!!! That is often easier said than done.
He reminded me, “The course of your life is affected more by the way you treat people than the way they have treated you.” What He spoke to my heart I have found to be true in most of my relational situations. When I am having a tough time getting along with people, it is often because I am not being obedient to Christ’s command to love my neighbor as I love myself and do good to those who treat me terrible. In those times, I am neither exhibiting the characteristics of Christ, nor loving unconditionally the way He did. Now don’t get me wrong, we should have standards in our relationships, but unforgiveness is a dangerous place to set up camp.
What does any of this have to do with ‘11 days or 40 years’? Well, God showed me how my willingness to cooperate with His command to forgive would eventually spill over into other areas of my life. When I release people from offenses I am actually releasing myself from the bondages associated with unforgiveness. Matthew 6:14-15 says, If you forgive men when they sin against you, your heavenly Father will also forgive you. But if you do not forgive men their sins, your Father will not forgive your sins.
I have traveled the ’40 years’ route many times. So often I have held grudges against people and refused to forgive them. Actually, some of them lasted for years. In retrospect, I believe that, in many areas of my life, I was hindered and I even believe that often, God’s manifestation of His promises were delayed until I complied with His command to forgive.
Offenses will come. Luke 17:1 says they will come, but these days I am choosing the ‘11 day’ trip more often than the ‘40 years’. I am working very hard to forgive and release people quickly so that I remain free. I found out that FORGIVENESS is a beautiful place to live.
God told the children of Israel, “You have stayed long enough at this mountain. Break camp and advance…”
I have walked around the mountain of ‘offense’ long enough.
What about you?