The Spirit of Unforgiveness

There was story in the news recently, the details of which I will not go into for they are not the purpose of this post. But if you “Google” Josh Duggar, I’m certain you will come up with plenty of information about the situation. I discussed in a previous post that I believe that everyone has a Darth Vader, Anakin’s was after power and recognition, and mine was after control. You see, American discovered that Josh Duggar has a Darth Vader, and most people can now only see shining black armor and a red lightsaber.

I saw in (most of) the responses to this undeniably bad news, a lack of grace and unwillingness to forgive. People tossing statistics and hopes that Josh’s past will be daily rubbed in his face. Something that I did not see, a lot of, was the willingness to see that Josh has changed, he is not that person anymore. The Duggar’s chose to make this information public, knowing full well that the “boom” would be lowered on them with much more force and severity. Why? Because they are Christian family. And the general public expects Christians to be perfect rather than the broken, saved by grace people that we are. Imperfection requires forgiveness, which can be difficult because it goes against our human nature. Its easy to be angry and to hurl someone’s past in their face. But Jesus calls us to forgive, it says in Matthew 18:21-22, “Then Peter came to Jesus and asked, “Lord, how many times shall I forgive my brother or sister who sins against me? Up to seven times?” Jesus answered, “I tell you, not seven times, but seventy-seven times.”

This begs the question. Why would Jesus call us to do something that can be so difficult? Because He knows that the unwillingness to forgive can be draining, that grudges get heavy, and that bitterness can steal our joy. To be clear, forgiveness does not mean that one should forget or to quote the popular phrase, “Sweep it under the rug.” But rather chose to recognize that the person has changed and/or to release your own spirit from the burden of carrying a grudge, which can lead to anger.

Obi-Wan also carried within him the spirit of unforgiveness, he believed that Anakin had been completely devoured by the dark side of the force. He could not see past Anakin’s mistakes (which yes they where HUGE mistakes) but, he also refused to even allow the possibility that Anakin could change or that any goodness could be left in him. According to the book, The Life and Legend of Obi-Wan Kenobi, Obi-Wan’s spirit was present (but unseen) during Luke’s battle with Darth Vader on the Death Star at the end of Return of the Jedi. And he was completely shocked that Anakin managed to fight his way back from the dark side.

“And suddenly Obi-Wan realized where he had failed. For unlike Luke, Obi-Wan
had not only believed that Anakin was completed consumed by the dark side,
but had actually refused to believe that any goodness could have remained within
Vader. And by refusing to allow that possibility, Obi-Wan had condemned not
only his former friend but his own capacity for hope.”

Jesus calls us to forgive because He knows that it will not only benefit us, but also has the potential to benefit the one who sinned against us. Luke’s willingness to forgive helped Anakin regain his true self and I’m sure that the Duggar family’s willingness to forgive did the same for Josh. And if God can forgive, then with the strength, humility, and peace that is gained by reaching for Him, we humans can forgive too.

If you are carrying the spirit of unforgiveness I encourage you to pray for the strength to forgive.

“Bear with each other and forgive one another if any of you has a grievance against someone. Forgive as the Lord forgave you.” -Colossians 3:13

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He is ALWAYS there

There is a new song by Colton Dixon called “Through All of It”, it is about God and how He is always there no matter what. It doesn’t matter how far we fall or how many times we stumble. Now that can sometimes be a difficult concept to wrap your head around, because humans, frankly, are not always awesome. We lie, cheat, we’re selfish, we say/do things that we shouldn’t have, and can hurt our fellow man. Yet, God never leaves. How do we know this? Because the very instant, we realize our faults and ask for forgiveness, God’s love, grace and mercy are there to greet us every time. And let’s be honest, this scenario has and will play itself out more than once in one’s life time.

In a previous post I wrote about grace and how it’s enough for Darth Vader and then some. In that post I quoted John 1:16 which reads, “Out of his fullness we have all received grace in place of grace already given.” This means that God gives us ALL grace, and then some more, and then some. And thankfully so, because we humans need it.

This morning my kids and I watched “Return of the Jedi” because tomorrow is Star Wars Day. (May the 4th be with you!) While watching Darth Vader continue to do his well, Vader stuff, it got me thinking about the light side of the force, and how it stayed with Anakin the whole time he was following the dark side. Many, to include Yoda and Obi Wan, felt that Anakin was a lost cause, that turning to the dark side was something that he could not turn back from. This may seem a little harsh, but these two saw first hand Anakin’s initial actions as Darth Vader, and Obi Wan had to fight Darth Vader. He certainly felt his anger. So you can’t really blame them for seeing Anakin in this light. But because they felt this so strongly, they refused to acknowledge someone else’s, hint Luke’s, feelings about Anakin. After all Luke was Anakin’s son, and had a much different connection to him, then Obi Wan or Yoda. Of course in the end, Luke was right because Anakin managed to fight his way back from dark side.

The closing scene, or next to the closing scene, shows Anakin reunited not only with Yoda and Obi Wan, but also with the light side of the force. Now how could this have happened so quickly? Because the light side never left him. Through all of his Vader foolishness, the light side never once left his side.

In the same way God, with His grace, His love, His mercy, and His blessings, are there to greet us as soon as we turn back and return to who we were created to be. Amazing isn’t? To have a God who loves us in this fashion, is an incredible blessing. He is our rock, and He will never give up. A love like this deserves every praise we can muster, and He accepts them no matter where it is we just returned from.

His grace will catch you every time you fall, it’s enough for Darth Vader and then some.

Grace Enough for Darth Vader…and then some!

Grace, the exercise of love, kindness, mercy, favor: disposition to benefit or to serve another. Grace is mentioned several times in the Bible like in John 1:16 which says, “Out of His fullness we have all received grace in place of grace already given,” some translations even say grace upon grace. So God gives us ALL grace on top of grace, a double portion. We are all recipients of grace, it is through grace that we are forgiven, it is because of grace (which is there to catch us when we fall) that we can go out and speak the truth of Jesus to the world.

God doesn’t hold grace back from anyone, even Darth Vader. Darth Vader?! But Darth Vader said all that stuff and did all those things! Yes he did, but in the end grace came rushing back to his true identity, Anakin Skywalker. Why? Because he opened himself up to it, even though he didn’t think that he deserved it. Nobody deserves grace but, we all receive daily, its always there. God doesn’t look at how someone behaved that day and decide how much grace they will get because He doesn’t base it on actions. It says in Romans 11:6, “And if by grace, then it can not be based works; if it were, grace would no longer be grace.” We don’t have to earn grace, its open to everyone even our Darth Vader’s.

God will reach down and light up the sky for you no matter how far you fall; He is a God who allows U-turns. We, like Anakin, will keep stumbling over where we were, what we did, what we said, trying to apologize or explain ourselves to God. He is focused on the present and the future and we are tripping over the past-thinking that it should have some effect on the present.

**Not that its not important to ask for forgiveness, God just forgives rather quickly and we don’t always notice and start dwell and keep making sure that we are really forgiven.**

After Anakin dies at the end of Return of the Jedi, the last thing he expected was to be reunited with light side of the force and that Obi Wan would be there to greet him. Pretty surprising for a guy who spent 20 years as Darth Vader and well…was the one who killed Obi Wan. When Anakin asked, “Why me?” Obi Wan said, “Because you ended the curse.” Anakin did it, he stopped it, he brought himself back from the dark side. It was his calling and he fulfilled it, then grace was there to greet him.

Who you are in God is something that nothing and no one can take away. Even when you take a detour or make a mistake, your calling is still your calling. Grace keeps it in place, because grace knows that you CAN reclaim it or even see it for the first time. Our God is a God of second chances, He will be there to pick you up when you fall ready to give you a double portion of grace. It enough for you, its enough for me and its even enough for Darth Vader…and then some!

As it says in Hebrews 13:25, “Grace be with you all.”