I’ve awoken shaking with fear tightly gripping my heart, I can hardly breathe. I gasp for air and look around my bleak prison cell. My eyes feel heavy and my heart is weighed down. I try to sit up but my injuries prevent me from moving without pain. I struggle over to the wash basin to try and splash some water on my face. As I stand my head swims and I struggle to stay upright. I slowly drag myself to my bed and gently ease my weary body back down. I lay on my side because the bruises make it too painful to put pressure on my back. Tears flow without restraint as the sorrow overwhelms me. I lie there for hours battered and bruised feeling feel just as black and blue on inside as the outside. I feel dead and completely void of life.
I hear a faint whisper and slowly sit up wondering if my prayers have finally been answered. “Lord?!” I cry out “please speak to me!” I hold my breath waiting for a response.
I sit up straight with my heart beating fast
the key for your release is near
I sit there stunned looking around trying to find where a key could be hidden. I stop my search and cry out: “where is the key Lord?”
Forgiveness rings out in my ears and I shrink in fear.
“How can You possibly expect me to forgive? Do you not see my pain, have you not heard my cries? How can I possibly forgive them for all the brutality?”
I cry bitter tears and hide under the thin blanket. A warmth spreads through my cold body and I peek out from the covers “Lord?”
I’m here child, will you please listen?
I slowly sit up and hang my head, “yes Lord I’ll listen”
Take a deep breath and listen carefully
I inhale and exhale a few deep breaths and wait with my heart feeling heavy
Is there anyone you can forgive?
“No Lord I simply can’t”
I will help you, will you trust me?
I shrug my shoulders and hang my head lower as the pain increases in my heart. I feel sick at the mere thought of having to forgive, as my stomach churns I wonder how it can even be possible. “Lord how can You possibly condone what they did?”
Child, I DON’T condone what they did, forgiveness is not about that.
“Why didn’t you stop them?” I sob heart wrenching tears and curl up on the cold hard bed. I lie there for ages wondering if God has left me alone, “So You’ve abandoned me again?” I whisper to the wall.
No child I promised that I would never leave you nor forsake you. I’m right here where I’ve always been and where I’ll always be!
I cry more and blubber “Then why can’t I feel Your presence? Why do I feel so alone?”
That is a lie my child, don’t allow those feelings to put the wall up between us.
“How Lord can I believe? How can I trust You?”
Allow me to love you, allow me to comfort you, to strengthen you and allow me to enable you to forgive.
“But Lord how can I possibly let them ‘off the hook’ for what has happened? Why don’t you punish them?”
Child what they did was devastating enough, don’t allow the feelings of hatred, bitterness, judgement, discouragement and anger fester in your heart and mind any longer.
I feel sick again and wonder if I might throw up, but then rage takes over and I yell: “I want to be angry, I want to hurt them back!”
Child, NO! Don’t give the enemy a foothold in your life. You must let go!
I curl up and sob “I don’t want to Lord, I simply cannot”
Child will you trust me to help you?
I shrug and think for awhile. I go through all my options and weigh them up. I finally decide that I don’t want to stay in this place any longer. “Ok Lord I’ll trust You”, a great warmth surrounds my heart and I let out a huge sigh. The weight of pain has started to lift. I softly pray:
“Heavenly Father dwelling in the heavenly realms
Hallowed be Thy name
Thy kingdom come
Thy will be done in earth, as it is in heaven
Grant me this day my daily bread
Please forgive my sins, as I forgive (my throat catches but I push through the pain and the strangling of my vocal cords to continue) those who have sinned against me
Lead me not into temptation, but deliver me from evil
For Thine is the kingdom, and the power, and the glory, for ever and ever. Amen!”
As the words reverberate around the room I feel as if the walls are shaking and shifting. I open my eyes and look at the door as it begins to creak and groan.
Well done child!
I smile for the first time in a long time and I feel the pressure lift from my heart. “Ok Lord what now? The door is still locked tight”
Laughter fills the room and the quiet voice cries out: patience child
I sit in the silence and allow the warmth to spread into the very depths of my being, “Ok Lord, I’m ready what do I do now?”
Begin to name and forgive each person as they come into your mind, don’t be afraid I’m right here
Faces begin to flash in my mind and as each one comes into focus I cry out: “Lord help me to forgive”, the pain intensifies, and I double over as great sobs of grief wash over me. As the faces build and build I cry out: “Lord, it’s too much I cannot continue”.
Child you are far stronger than you realise, draw upon My strength not yours
I take a deep breath and allow the pain to subside before I continue, “Ok Lord strengthen me”. The faces turn into moments and as the memories race through my mind the pain stabs at my heart, “Lord I forgive! Lord I release the pain to You, please take it away. I let go of hatred, bitterness, judgement, discouragement and anger. Take it all away. Lord please fill me with compassion towards those who have hurt me.” A peace falls upon me like I’ve never known before and I feel stronger and so full of life.
“Thank You Lord” I cry and jump up with great excitement. I hear the sound of metal on concrete and I look down. I gasp as my gaze falls upon a beautiful large key lying on the floor, I bend and gently pick it up.
Open up the door my child for you’re now free.
I walk over to my prison door and I find that the key fits perfectly into the lock and easily turns. As the door swings open I take a final look back at my cold prison cell. I stand there in amazement but also with grief gripping my heart, “Lord I’m so sorry for sitting here feeling hard done by and sorry for myself. I wallowed in my grief and didn’t cry out to you for so long”
It’s ok my child, move forward now with My great compassion burning bright in your chest.
I lift my head and look down the hallway. I can see others trapped in cells just like mine, “Lord shall I share with them what I’ve learnt?”
Of course my child! Your freedom is only one part of the story, now you must go and tell others how I can set them free.
As I walk away from my prison cell my heart fills with God’s great compassion.
“Lord help me to always display kindness, grant me a gentle and loving heart. Teach me how to walk in humility, knowing that it is Your strength alone that enables me. Grant to me a steadfast nature that can patiently endure injustice or unpleasant circumstances. Lord help to be gracious towards others by readily, willingly and completely forgiving them. May I always remember to forgive others not just because You command me to, but because You long to bestow forgiveness upon me and others. Holy Spirit flow Your great forgiveness through my life into the lives of others.”
As I move along the corridor I have a new sense of purpose!
The Bible urges us to forgive and to release blessing upon those who have hurt us. Forgiveness is such a hard issue to deal with and time after time I know I’ve gotten it wrong. I desire to not continually keep getting it wrong. I recently watched the training dvd from the Sozo ministry and they explained that we can be imprisoned due to unforgiveness, that really sparked within me a desire to know how to completely forgive. I wanted to truly and fully forgive from my heart. I looked up the Bible verse they mentioned and then others and I spent time allowing the words to wash over me. As I pressed into God I wrote this story. Please note that I haven’t been physically abused or imprisoned in the traditional sense – I haven’t committed a crime that has resulted in me being in jail. But I have been imprisoned in a physically debilitated body; I have felt imprisoned because my mind has experienced depression; I have felt emotionally imprisoned and I have felt spiritually imprisoned. I wrote this story using those elements as my inspiration.
As I’ve journeyed upon deep inner healing my need to ask for forgiveness has burned in my heart. I’ve had to address my failing and wrong doings. Acts 3:19 issues a challenge to repent, that is to change our inner self which includes dealing with our old ways of thinking, our regrets and past sins. We are to turn to God and seek His purpose for our life so that our sins can be wiped away, completely erased, we will then experience a refreshing which comes from the presence of the Lord.
I absolutely loved the idea of being refreshed and was pleasantly surprised to discover that as I allowed God to bring up issues, that really needed to be dealt with, I found a real release and refreshing through repentance and a commitment to change.
Daniel 9 contains a wonderful prayer and here is my paraphrased version: I pray now and confess my sins to You Almighty God. Lord You are so great and awesome, a faithful God that keeps His covenants and extends lovingkindness towards those who love You and keep Your commandments. I acknowledge that I have sinned and done wrong by You, I have behaved badly and rebelled from obeying Your commandments. There have been many times I haven’t listened to You, I apologise now and ask for Your forgiveness. Lord God You are merciful and I beg wholeheartedly for Your forgiveness and seek Your favour by turning away from my old ways. I long to pay attention to Your instructions and I place great value in Your truth. Almighty God Your mighty hand has delivered in the past and I ask that You would extend it now to me. Please let Your face shine upon me; incline Your ear to hear; and open Your eyes to my situation. I present my life before You and ask for Your mercy and compassion. O Lord please forgive me. O Lord please act.
Ephesians 1:7 declares that in Jesus we have redemption, we find deliverance and salvation, because of the blood that Jesus shed for us. We can find forgiveness and the complete pardon from our sins in accordance with His amazing grace that is lavished upon us!
As I studied I cried out: ‘Lord God, I come before You now and I ask for Your forgiveness. As Your child I ask that You would grow within me a heart full of compassion. Help me to display kindness to myself and those around me. Teach me to walk in humility. Develop within me a gentle and loving heart. Build a steadfast spirit within me so that I can patiently endure injustice or unpleasant circumstances. Enable me to be gracious towards others by willingly and completely forgiving them because just as I’ve been forgiven I’m expected and required to forgive. Through the help of the Holy Spirit the forgiveness extended to me can flow through my life into the lives of others (Colossians 3:12- 13). In Jesus’ mighty name I pray, Amen.’
I pray that this has sparked within you some hope and encouragement.
Many blessings, Keona