I heard Carol Arnott say that her book Grace and Forgiveness is worth a trillion dollars.
Hyperbole, of course, but (Jesus, forgive this crassness!!) if I were to monetize it, learning and practising forgiveness would easily be worth well over £100,000, perhaps £500,000 in a lifetime. No, more!
Speculative, of course, but that’s possibly the monetary value of the immense productivity which would result from keeping one’s mind free of emotional turmoil and the petty resentments and grievances which so distract and drain one.
And imagine the creativity which would result from stepping into the eternal sources of ideas, the energy which would result from not judging other people, not revolving in your mind the sad old tedious tale of sins they have committed against you, but instead focusing on your own life, goals and purposes.
And of course, one would be SO much healthier physically and mentally if one could forgive, and refuse to judge. Some estimate that 60 to 90 percent of illness is psychosomatic, caused by our negative thoughts. Colds, flu, digestive ailments, allergies flaring up, insomnia, exhaustion—most of us have experienced these after emotional upsets; perhaps prolonged emotional strain could lead to more serious conditions.
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Last week, I got so angry with a member of my family that I took to bed at 9 p.m. so that I would not sin with my words, not crush through a strongly worded expression of anger.
But I tossed and turned as I tried to pray in tongues, and pray the Jesus prayer to mitigate my anger and not judge. Some success, much failure!
Well, anger and judgement are not the best way to get to sleep. I was awake much of the night, my muscles stiff and tense, and slept in till 9 a.m. I would normally have slept for 8 hours.
Wow, how much could I have written in the extra 4 hours?
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Forgiveness as a life-style. Letting injuries go as soon as they surface. I simply must learn it.
For anger is spending your energy in negativity. Judgement is spending our passion in negativity.
If we learned to forgive, we could instead invest that energy and passion in our own lives.
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How do we forgive? The absolute best way is the way Jesus commanded.
We bless the person we are angry with. We pray for them. We ask God to give us a love for them (Luke 6:28) for our sake as well as for theirs, for love is a warmer, lovelier, more energizing thing to have in your heart than prickly, cold hatred.
And “Then your reward will be great, and you will be children of the Most High, because he is kind to the ungrateful and wicked.” (Luke 6:35).
As a child, we will have access to the goodness of God’s household: financial provision, unleashed creativity, protection from our enemies, answered prayer.
We will pray with power for the greatest block to answered prayer will be removed. We will have fulfilled Jesus’ condition for the cleansing of the heart even before we pray, “And when you stand praying, if you hold anything against anyone, forgive them.” (Mark 11:25)
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As Malcolm Gladwell famously noted in Outliers: The Story of Success, it takes 10,000 hours to be a world class expert—in anything.
Prayer takes practice. I pray most effectively (seeing changes in myself, and my life and circumstances) after reading books on prayer and making lists and praying through them. In this respect, the most life-changing books on prayer I’ve read are The Circle Maker and I Will Lift Up Mine Eyes.
Forgiveness too is a learned art. While ultimately, it is a miracle like falling in love, it is also a mental and emotional discipline, which goes through stages, and which we can partly learn from others.
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Some things in the spiritual life have disproportionate power; they are the atomic bombs of the spiritual life! Prayer, so quiet, so invisible, makes things happen, in our spirits and in the external world around us. Forgiveness too has disproportionate power.
I have heard Heidi Baker talk about forgiving her daughter’s rapist (an drug addict she had sheltered) and how this forgiveness freed her daughter from nightmares and post-traumatic stress syndrome. If Heidi had not brought herself to do so, she might have continued in ministry, but it would have been a mediocre one, not characterized by miracles and joy as hers is.
For myself, I love it when I come to the point of forgiveness. I love the spiritual power, and the sense of joy and love. And freedom. And best of all, there is a new unleashing of creative power, ideas, stories and blogs!