Do you read a lot? I love to read, especially at night to unwind after a long day. I tend to read non-fiction during the day and reserve my bedtime reading for fiction. Rarely will I come across a non-fiction book that captivates me to the point I don’t want to put it down and opt to read it at bedtime over fiction.
Forgiving Forward by Dr. Bruce and Toni Hebel was one of those books. I started reading it one afternoon when it arrived in the mail and I hardly put it down until I finished it. I first learned about the book when I met with the Hebel’s daughter, Amy. She was hosting a friend from the Congo who had come to Atlanta to learn all he could about the issue of sex trafficking. He is an abolitionist in his homeland and wanted to learn more strategies to fight this issue.
As Amy shared a little about herself and her family, she mentioned her family’s ministry and the book in passing. When the word forgiveness was spoken, my ears perked up. So many times people feel that withholding forgiveness is punishing the one who hurt them, when in fact, it only hurts you. As the saying goes,
Refusing to forgive someone is like drinking poison and expecting the other person to die.”
Forgiveness is the very crux of the Christian faith. It is why Jesus came to earth to die on the cross, to forgive us for our sins [Romans 5:8, 1 John 1:9].
In Forgiving Forward, the Hebels point out how critical it is for us to forgive others and to do so quickly. Not only is it necessary for our personal health and well-being, it is important for our witness. They said,
Perhaps the most significant reason God takes unforgiveness so seriously is that our witness to the Gospel is compromised when we are not modeling what Jesus did for us.”
Did that step on anyone’s toes? It certainly made me pause and ask the Lord to reveal any area in my life where there is unforgiveness. I do not want to be a stumbling block for someone’s understanding of the Gospel.
In Matthew 6:12, Jesus taught His disciples to pray and He told them to say,
Forgive us our debts, as we also have forgiven our debtors.”
So many times, we fly through the Lord’s Prayer without pausing to think about what we’re really saying. When we pray it, we are asking the Lord to forgive us in the same way we forgive others.
Recently I read an article on Facebook that talked about teaching children how to properly ask for forgiveness. It discussed how so many times we make children say I’m sorry! even when they aren’t. It listed four simple steps for a child to go through when asking forgiveness so they would understand what they did wrong. The steps were:
- I’m sorry for….
- This is wrong because…
- In the future, I will…
- Will you forgive me?
To read the entire article, you can go here.
The Hebels take it a little further. They talk about forgiving others, the power of forgiveness, and then they provide you with seven protocols to forgiving. While the steps are simple, it isn’t necessarily an easy process, especially for those who have been horribly wounded. They do; however, provide story after story of it’s impact on people’s lives as they persevered and completed the process. It doesn’t take days or years to work through. It’s something that can be done in minutes to hours depending upon the depth and number of wounds an individual needs healed.
The women I work with on a daily basis have been violated and abused in inhumane ways. They have deep wounds that cannot be cared for in the ER. They almost always walk away from the life in torment. Even though they are no longer held captive physically, they are emotionally and mentally and need to be delivered. I am excited to have a new tool for my tool belt when ministering to them.
I would recommend you check out Forgiving Forward, because we all need forgiveness.