Fighting to Forgive and Forget the Former Things
| By Sheri Rose Shepherd
Bestselling Author and Bible Life Coach
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How do we forget the former things? Is there some magic prayer that wipes out our memories so we won’t feel the pain of our past? I wish I could say that this is the way to find a new foundation for your life. Yet God teaches us through Isaiah 43 that our past does not determine our future. He wants us to embrace the new beginning He offers us and to stop living in yesterday. However, to let go of our past, we will have to leave it where it belongs . . . at the Cross.
I was powerfully reminded of this again through Alice, whom I met recently at a retreat. I had been talking about rebuilding relationships, and when I finished, I walked over to the door to say good-bye to each of the ladies. I loved hearing how God spoke to them throughout the weekend, and Alice gave me renewed hope. She was seventy years old and had been married over fifty years.
I was captivated by the joy that lit up her face. She radiated from the inside out, and her smile made me feel at home. I thought Alice must have lived a wonderful life to glow with God’s glory the way she did. I had to ask her what her secret was. Her response reflected a woman who was beautifully broken.
She said, “When I lost the husband I loved to my best friend, I lost everything that was dear to me, including my children. However, I discovered how much my Lord truly loves me because of that loss, and I have never been the same because of His love.”
My eyes welled with tears as she shared with me the story of how her husband had served her divorce papers on their fortieth wedding anniversary. Devastated and overwhelmed by grief, she set the papers aside without signing them. She fought to understand why God did not protect her marriage after all she had sacrificed to remain faithful, even in the hard and unhappy years.
Despite their challenges, she said she loved this man and never dreamed she would be alone in her older years. Though they lived apart for seven years, something inside her soul continued to keep her from signing those divorce papers. Late one night, though, she finally decided to move on and let go of the man she loved. With sad resolve, she signed the papers. Once she had done so, she felt free for the first time in many years.
Until the doorbell rang. It was 2 a.m., and she was a little fearful of who might be at her door in the middle of the night. When she opened the door, she was shocked to see her husband, Bill, on his knees with tears in his eyes and torn-up divorce papers in his hand.
He looked into her eyes and asked her for something he did not deserve: “a chance to finish my life with you.” Bill told her he had just awakened from a dream he believed God had given him, showing how his actions were crumbling the foundation of the faith of his children and grandchildren―all for the sake of his own pleasure. When he woke up, he could not wait until morning. He had to run to his wife.
He knew he owed her a sincere apology, but he wanted so much more. He wanted a second chance, and he was willing to do whatever it took to rebuild what he had broken in her heart. She stood there silently until she heard the Lord whisper to her, “Today, Alice, is the day I am giving you a choice between life and death for your family. I am asking you to trust Me with this broken man and choose life, so that your legacy of faith can live on in your children through your obedience to Me.”
She asked for a few days to pray; Bill told her to take whatever time she needed to decide.
Alice said she fought through the biggest internal battle she had ever experienced as she reflected on the past seven years away from this man. After all, she had finally healed from his betrayal and feared she might reopen the wound that had taken so long to heal. She wrestled through every emotion—from feeling ripped off, being rejected, and now receiving an offer to be rescued.
Alice knew her choice would write the rest of her life story and her husband’s story. After many tears and much prayer for the strength to forgive her husband, Alice surrendered to God’s will and gave up her rights to take revenge. God blessed the hard choice Alice had made to forget the former things and finish her life with her husband in spite of all he had done. And they finished strong!
Yes, Bill was wrong, and yes, he was unfaithful and caused much damage to many lives, including his own. There is no excuse for his actions, and Alice had every right to make him suffer for what he had done. However, her extremely hard decision to forget the former things will leave a legacy of love that will live on long after they are gone.
For more teaching videos from Sheri Rose, go to www.biblelifecoaching.com.
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