We often make much over the resolutions of the new year and forget the everyday milestones of celebrating each and every new day. The Bible states, “This is the day the Lord has made, we will rejoice and be glad in it” (Psalm 118:24). Another beautiful scripture tells us that “in Christ old things are passed away and all things have become new” (II Corinthians 5:17). Discovering a new-found freedom through forgiveness has given my new friend, Barbara Whitfield, fresh, new insights about her spiritual journey.
-by Barbara Whitfield
Recently as I was getting ready to make cinnamon rolls for the holidays, I tuned into one of my favorite stations just as Charles Stanley was coming on. His sermon was interesting, and I was half listening. He was mainly addressing ‘Christians’…those who fill the church pews regularly…who go about doing good works in Jesus’ name… who hide behind a facade on Sunday mornings for fear of what others may think of them if they only knew the ‘real’ person. As he continued talking, a picture of me began to emerge. Then he made a statement that really got my attention. He said, “If you are carrying guilt over something…a sin, a habit that you cannot stop, or whatever it is… and you refuse to let it go, even after you have sincerely repented to God, you, my friend, are living in rebellion to God.” He went on to explain that refusing to forgive yourself is a form of idolatry. There at the kitchen counter, while making cinnamon rolls, I discovered freedom through forgiveness.
Dr. Stanley had effectively verbalized a pretty good likeness of me and the life that I have been living for 40 years. I felt that I had sincerely repented to God…not once, but over and over and over…not that I didn’t trust God to forgive the first time I repented. My constant asking was for me. I had not forgiven myself. I felt the need to bring it up again and again. In my heart, I knew that God had forgiven me. ‘I’ was the problem.
Lack of Forgiveness Led to Loss of Joy
I thought for all these years I was only hurting myself. By refusing to forgive myself, I was probably denying the true joy and peace God wanted for me, but I didn’t feel deserving, so it seemed acceptable. It was my way of punishing myself. Simply saying to myself, ‘You are forgiven’, seemed too easy. In my mind, that would have lessened the gravity of my sin.
In Rebellion to God
Never once did I consider myself in rebellion to God. I love God and am grateful every day that He loves me – that He has forgiven me and daily continues to forgive me when I ask Him. I certainly did not consider that many years ago when I had asked forgiveness for one particular sin, I had taken up a form of rebellion with the additional sins of self-idolatry and ugly pride. These I have faithfully carried with me like a badge of dishonor.
God Was Speaking and I was Listening
I was humbled. My heart was open.
I listened to Dr. Stanley’s sermon two more times and by the third listening I was convicted that I HAD to lay my burdens down. I HAD to allow God to help me to forgive myself of past sin…or I would, now with full knowledge, continue living in this present sin of rebellion, self-idolatry and pride.
How do you do that? It’s easy to say, “Just let it go,” yet, not so easy to do.
Cinnamon Rolls, Charles Stanley and an Everyday Servant of God on Mission
Standing at my kitchen sink, with cinnamon roll dough on my hands, I looked out the window and asked God to once and for all give me the strength to forgive myself. I did not feel anything but a keen awareness that from that moment forward, by faith, I was going to be a different person. No more beating myself up for a past that I shamefully regret. The past cannot be undone. I asked God to forgive me for all the years of rebellion and self-idolatry and pride, and to help me to live out the rest of my life in total submission to Him, in a way that brings glory to His name. By faith and by dying to self daily, the future will be different for me.
Barbara Whitfield is a wife, mother and grandmother who has recently blossomed into the second phase of life… retirement. She is an aspiring personal life experiences writer, a lover of all things ‘crafty’, proficient at calligraphy and a novice RVer. Barbara knows her talents and skills; she is currently on a quest to discover her one true passion.
“The journey of a lifetime starts with the turning of a page”. Rachel Anders
It’s a wonderful thing to know we have an Advocate in the person of Jesus Christ who will plead our cause to our heavenly Father, If we shall ask anything in His name, He hears us. He promises his forgiveness, and through His Son, we have freedom. What a great way to begin a new year by immersing ourselves in the rich promises of God’s Word.
Do you have a story of God transforming your life that you’d like to share? Let me hear from you.