I am not and never will be a gardener. The joke here at my house is that plants quake in their roots when I am around. I can understand why my family and the plants feel that way. Honestly, I kill them.
So when our azalea bush in the front yard started dying several years ago, I didn't worry much about it. It was just the same old cycle repeating itself. The first couple years we lived here, it bloomed magnificently in the spring like an azalea should. But, like most plants I am in contact with, it changed. The leaves turned dark. The foliage grew thin. The gorgeous and abundant flowers from the first few years were replaced by only leaves.
Interestingly, my plant was being suffocated by a sly Virginia Creeper. Over the years, this creeper had planted itself right in the middle of my azalea, and slowly inched its way over much of the healthy plant....suffocating it....stifling its beauty ....crushing its leaves....killing it.
In the end, my bush was pitiful, misshapen, and pathetic. The very beauty that it was meant to share was gone.
Unforgiveness is just like that Creeper. It takes root in our hearts and grows. It invades every part of us. Soon our lives are out of step with the Lord's will. The hurt we are holding onto does not go away. It just gets worse. It poisons our perceptions. It consumes us. It leaves us stunted in our growth and misshapen.
Don't forget that creepers creep. The intruder didn't stay just in my bush...it was crawling up the house and had trails along the ground looking for more things to invade. Unforgiveness, too, spills over to other people and relationships. The longer we hold onto it, the more damage we do.
So.....I pulled out the creeper. I cut, and yanked, and removed as much of it as I could find. The creeper had grown up around azalea like a prison. It had choked out its beauty for so long and, now, it was finally free to bloom and thrive as before.
|Yes....this is my actual bush.|
Just like the azalea could not get rid of the creeper on its own, we cannot forgive on our own. We must take our offenses, our hurts, our injustices to the only one that can heal them...Jesus Christ. His word tells us in Isaiah 61 that he has come bind up the brokenhearted, to proclaim freedom for the captives and release from darkness for the prisoners, to proclaim the year of the Lord’s favor and the day of vengeance of our God, to comfort all who mourn, and provide for those who grieve in Zion—to bestow on them a crown of beauty instead of ashes, the oil of joy instead of mourning, and a garment of praise instead of a spirit of despair.
Do you hear that? He has come to heal the hurts....release the prisoner...comfort the mourning....to give a crown for our ashes...and joy for our sadness...and clothes of praise for our despair.
He can give you the strength and the power to let go of the unforgiveness and get out of your prison and bloom just like you were meant to be.
It's not easy. It's hard... In some cases it may be the most difficult thing we do....but it is worth it.
Oh and another thing...creepers come back.....
|Taken the same day as the previous picture.|
There will be times when that hurt returns, when something is said that brings all the feelings back. That's when we must run back to Jesus. Give it to him again and let him heal us ....again.
Looks like I have some yard work to do. That creeper will not leave on its own.
*Our Bible study is working through Joseph: A journey to forgiveness by Melissa Spoelstra. These thoughts came after week 2.