But I gave them this command: Obey me, and I will be your God and you will be my people. Walk in obedience to all I command you, that it may go well with you. Jeremiah 7:23
Sometimes lessons in life come in the least expected ways.
“Hey there,” I cooed to a runaway dog who had ended up on my friend’s doorstep. It was obvious the sweet girl had escaped from her owner as she was still lugging the broken oversized chain around her neck. I had gone to visit my friend because I needed a listening ear. She wanted to know how she could help, and I was anxious to receive her counsel.
Finally securing the dog in the garage until the owner could be found, my friend and I sat together and sifted through my issue. I was hitting one mental roadblock after another, unable to move forward down a ministry avenue. “You need to work on unforgiveness before you go further.” That wasn’t what I wanted to hear; yet my friend agreed God was impressing upon me that was what was holding me back.
We’ve all experienced deep, gut-wrenching hurt and the desire to avenge ourselves, but have you lugged it around like I did?
Always at the ready, I carried my proof securely with me everywhere I went:- a damning text stream and contact information. Never mind that I had been counseled well over a year before to rid myself of it. Hanging on meant I had ammunition.
I would let my mind run away with ideas of how I could exact revenge. I reveled at the thought of seeing my offender squirm as I waved my phone in a public place and ranted for the whole world to hear, “Do you want me to read this out loud so everyone will know how dark your heart is?”
Yep, the girl who wanted God to open doors for her ministry replayed the film over and over in her head as she waited day after day for the opportunity to avenge herself.
Beloved, do not avenge yourselves, but rather give place to wrath; for it is written, “Vengeance is mine, I will repay,” says the Lord. Romans 12:19
In The Bait of Satan, John Bevere writes, “It is righteous for God to avenge His servants. It is unrighteous for God’s servants to avenge themselves.… Initially it is so much easier when we take matters into our own hands, rather than waiting on a righteous God.” Pages later he wrote, “Spiritual growth is neither a function of time or learning, but it is a function of obedience.… Our knowledge of Scripture is not the key. Obedience is.”
Reading those words, I was convicted. I wanted God’s favor while at the same time I dreamed of usurping His role. There is no blessing, honor, or spiritual growth in the midst of disobedience.
The Holy Spirit reminded me that my own heart was dark. That I had been forgiven for so much more than the offense committed against me, and in the same way I judge others, I will be judged (Matthew 7:2). I had a choice to make. I could continue to have a judgmental attitude — which would be detrimental to my relationship with God and withhold from me His favor — or I could be obedient and let Him resolve the issue in His way.
Through Bevere’s message, I realized that “often the thing that looks like an abortion of God’s plan actually ends up being the road to its fulfillment if we stay in obedience and free from offense.” And, oh, how I want God’s favor in my life! Don’t you, too? I want nothing to stand in the way of my being carried away in the current when He opens the floodgates of blessing and favor! Being obedient to my heavenly Daddy so He could work out His plan for my life would be His favor!
Taking a deep breath, I exhaled my desire to get even and hit “Delete.” Just as quickly as the evidence disappeared from my phone screen, the shackles binding my heart snapped. Dispensation of justice had never been intended for my administration; relinquishing to the One who justly avenges freed me.
After sharing with my friend the next day how light and free my heart was, she told me the runaway dog had allowed her to come close enough to remove the heavy chain that had hung from her neck.
The little lady had been unfettered to move on to a new home and a better life.
Then they cried to the Lord in their trouble, and he saved them from their distress. He brought them out of darkness, the utter darkness, and broke away their chains. Let them give thanks to the Lord for his unfailing love and his wonderful deeds for mankind, for he breaks down gates of bronze and cuts through bars of iron. Psalm 107:13-16
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Pam Freitag Weyant traded the harsh Midwestern winters for the sunny South. Her best friends are her stenography machine (she works as a freelance court reporter), her aged but adorable cocker spaniel Jake, and words. She is grateful for time spent traveling, writing creative nonfiction, and working out. The most important goal she hopes to reach every day is sharing her story with others so they can also find freedom in a redemptive Savior. Read more of Pam’s Breath on Paper bio here.