One of my very favorite theologians is Dr. Harold Willmington of Liberty University. As Dr. Willmington speaks, he is constantly interspersing hymn lyrics from the very old favorites into his theme. This resonates strongly within me, as I was taught how to play the piano many, many years ago by an elderly woman who used the old Broadman Hymnal as her teaching guide! Every time Dr. Willmington begins a quote from a hymn, my mind jumps those barriers to silently quote it with him.
As I was pondering a very tough situation today, I kept thinking of the old hymn “Search me, O God, and know my heart today; try me, O Savior, and know my thoughts, I pray; see if there be some wicked way in me. Cleanse me from every sin, and set me free.” (James Orr, lyricist). Today I desperately needed that cleansing.
Had you asked me yesterday, I would have said I try to keep short accounts, and believed, to the best of my knowledge, that I harbor no grudges. Do I like everyone? No. But a continual grudge? I thought not.
Then, last evening an email came to me from my old hometown: it was the obituary of an aged man who was eulogized with the most flowery of terms, his good deeds enumerated in a lengthy, glowing tribute to his life. As I read the article, my mind went back to my young years, when I was as naive as anyone could possibly be. I was a student under this man’s leadership, and he took advantage of my innocence. Rape? No, he stopped short of that. The matter came before the principal, and the teacher was let go: the principal learned I was not the only student to have suffered at his hands.
As I read the obituary, suddenly all of the righteous indignation for his actions came swirling like fog around me! I realized I was almost enjoying the satisfaction that perhaps now he was getting his just due from God! I rebelled inside at the thought that perhaps he could have repented and be in heaven! It has been like a burr in my shoe during this day, as I realized I had unforgiveness for this man, and, because the situation had not been thought of in years and years, I was not aware that I had never repented of the hatred of having been this man’s victim. I found myself wanting to write those who had sent the message and let them know that while he was wearing his coat of good deeds, he was getting by with lascivious behavior!
Today I have had to pray diligently, Lord, please take this anger away from me, and melt my heart. I’ve done so many things that have hurt someone, how can I “throw stones”? After a long day of struggle, God has seen fit to ease my burden, to “cleanse me from [this] sin, and set me free!”
Was it a struggle? Definitely! In the flesh I did not want to give in and let him “get by” with what he had done. But my spirit is much more important than my flesh, and my heart deeply desires to be like Christ–repentance was my only option for peace.
Whatever your cross is, He will see that you are freed from the burden and will set your feet on ‘high places!’
“Father, thank you for bringing this to light. I did not even realize it was a problem, yet it was buried under the debris of living, and was deep in my heart. You had to shine Your light upon it, so that I could clearly see it, and let You deal with. I thank You for Your amazing grace that truly has replaced the animosity with Your peace. I will hang this on the cross, Lord, and pray this man came to know You before he died. Thank You for the cross, Lord! Amen.”