Have You Forgiven Yourself?

 

Jesus said

“It is finished”

– John 19:30

 

Easter is the reminder of all that Jesus did for us. This Easter, I have thought a great deal about the forgiveness Jesus won for us on the cross. His death paid fully for freedom from sin – the sins of others and also ours.

In this blog, it’s particularly on the subject of “self-forgiveness”. 

I believe that there are times when we “think”  we have forgiven ourselves for certain things, but in reality, we haven’t done this fully. We might have gone through the process “in our head” but that is not the same as doing it at a “heart level”.

When forgiving ourselves “in our heart” hasn’t happened, there are serious consequences for our destiny.

Like what?

I believe that unless we FULLY forgive ourselves, we will SUBCONSCIOUSLY  keep harming ourselves and our future.  We will SUBCONSCIOUSLY not want the best for ourselves. We will SUBCONSCIOUSLY hold ourselves back from having a happy and fully successful life we want. We will SUBCONSCIOUSLY keep hurting ourselves in a myriad of small and “subtle” ways. But in reality, I want to suggest that these self rejections are not so “subtle” at all! Because collectively, they all add up and they begin to erode, steal and destroy the gift of the full and flourishing destiny God wants for us.

 

When you don’t forgive yourself fully, it’s a way of subtly sabotaging your future

I think if we’re honest with ourselves, we SUBCONSCIOUSLY know we are doing this and “punishing” ourselves in some way. The reason we do it is because we SUBCONSCIOUSLY feel we don’t deserve to be happy because of something that’s happened in the past. (You’ll notice I use the word “subconscious” a lot, because the awareness of what we are doing is buried”).

Maybe that “thing” is a big mistake we believe we have made and we shouldn’t have. Or maybe it’s just the sense that we’ve lived below the life we think we could have or should have. This manifest itself in unworthiness and we think we don’t “deserve” God’s best. At the very crux of the problem, is a bigger issue – and that is unforgiveness towards ourselves. Harbouring this in our heart is just as damaging to us (and wrong) as having unforgiveness towards someone else.  

If you resonate with what I am saying, I would love to invite you to  get free of unforgiveness towards yourself this Easter. I mean FULLY forgive yourself in your head AND your heart.

It’s time to allow God’s pure light, love, healing and forgiveness to drench your heart.  Jesus took upon himself our every failure and biggest sin and He did it so you could live a full, free and powerful life. A life of flourishing and living in the fullness of His great plans for you; it’s what He wanted for you as he hung on that cross.

The best way you can give Jesus his full reward is to receive his grace and forgiveness. In fact, who are you not to? Is your sin too great for the pain He bore? Did he not pay enough to forgive you?

THIS IS WHAT WE ARE SAYING IF WE DON’T FULLY FORGIVE OURSELVES FOR EVERY PAST SIN AND REGRET … big and small.

If you relate to what I am saying, I encourage you at this Easter time to deal with your past once and for all. If it helps to find a private place and kneel before your Lord and King, then do that. Confess whatever is on your heart. Lay it all down at the cross until there’s nothing left to say. Then let Jesus remove every chain from your heart.  But don’t get up yet … Not until you fully receive his unconditional forgiveness, immeasurable grace and overwhelming love.

Then choose LIFE! Choose it and LIVE TO THE FULL. And make it a habit to walk in this freedom by declaring God’s truth over your mind. EXPECT God’s blessing and favour upon your future. This is the greatest honor and thanks you could ever give Jesus.

Forgive yourself fully (in your heart) and run free into your destiny.

Carolyn Conway – Author l Trainer l Certified Life Coach (B.Min., Dip.Th.)

Carolyn is the founder of Almond Tree Ministries. She is a speaker and trainer at churches, events and retreats. Her passion is to awaken and activate the body of Christ to be God’s supernatural power and presence in the world. She is known for her prophetic gifting and teaching which awakens hearts, activates dreams and empowers destinies. She is also a mentor and certified Life-Coach empowering women to experience breakthrough and achieve their dreams and goals.

Enquiries: carolyn@almondtreeministries.com.au orOffice (03) 9532 4618

Pick Up Your Mat

When Jesus saw him lying there and realized that he had spent a long time in this condition, He asked him, “Do you want to get well?”

(John 5:6)

I love reading the gospels. I read the story of the man who Jesus healed at the pool of Bethesda recently. Wow! What a miracle. This man had been crippled for 38 years! But this time when I read the story, it wasn’t the miracle of his healing which jumped out at me! It was something entirely different.

To put the story into context, when Jesus found out he had been there for all those years, He was FULL of compassion. He said to the man “Do you want to get well?” The man then explained that he had no one to help him get into the water first when it was stirred. (There was a belief at that time that sometimes an angel would stir the waters, and whoever got into the water first, could then be healed).

Then Jesus said to him “Get up. Pick up your mat and walk”. At once, this man was cured; he picked up his mat and walked. (verse 8)

The part of the story which God seemed to highlight to me were the words “PICK UP YOUR MAT AND WALK”.

Pick up your mat” … I wondered … Why Jesus chose those particular words? 

Why didn’t He just say “Be healed” or “Your faith has made you well”?

 

“Get up, pick up your mat, and walk” (John 5:8)

I felt sure that Jesus wasn’t just reminding him to be clean and tidy and not leave his belongings for someone else to pick up! Jesus words are always well chosen, so why did he specifically say: “Pick up your mat”? What did the mat represent?

And then I saw it. It represented his life! His story. His experiences and everything he had been through as he lived at the pool for ALL of those years. I’m talking about his pain, hardships and disappointments. This includes feelings of isolation from society due to not being able to live a “normal” life. He was not able to have a family or have a job like other men. Instead of earning a living he had to beg and rely on others to survive.  Can you imagine what that would have been like? After 38 long and difficult years, it would have really impacted his sense of self-worth and identity! 

So when Jesus said to him “pick up your mat” I sensed Jesus was saying to him (my paraphrase) “Pick up your life! Pick up everything you have been through … and carry it with you, into your future.

And that’s exactly what this man did. He picked up his mat and walked right back out into society. He took with him not only the story of his difficult life at the pool, but his testimony of how Jesus came along one amazing day, and healed him!

I can just imagine him full of joy and walking around with his mat under his arm! When people said “Hey, aren’t you the guy who used to live at the pool”? He would say to them “Yes”! I was once crippled, I used to beg, I couldn’t live like you do. But Jesus set me free. He healed me and now here I am!” That man became a walking, talking testimony of the goodness, love and healing power of God! 

I realised when I read this story that each of us have “a mat”. I have one and so do you.

Our mat represents our lives. It is our story. It represents our life experiences. So, let me ask you: What have you been through? What challenges, difficulties and hardships have been uniquely yours? Perhaps you have  experienced financial loss, a relationship breakdown or a health issue …. Or, something else? What hardship or set back have you gone through in your life? This is ALL part of “your mat”. But then, importantly, so is your testimony and your experience of how you encountered Jesus’ powerful love! This is all a part of your mat.  So, let me encourage you to reflect  … “How have YOU experienced God’s grace, love and power? How has He set you free? How has he given you hope? How has He restored your life? This is all part of “your mat” because it is YOUR story! 

I am on a mission today! I want to passionately encourage you to realize the importance of your own story to help others. When I say “your story” I am not talking about the sanitised version! I bet the man at the pool didn’t spin his story to make it “look good”. I’m sure he didn’t say “Hey look, it was just great there at the pool! It was a bit of an oasis really, especially on really hot days. There were palm trees swaying in the breeze and I could just slip into the refreshing water anytime I liked”. No! He would have shared the true story. That would go something like this … “Once I despaired of life! In fact, I didn’t know if I could go on. I thought ‘what’s the point’? I looked at all the other men and saw them with their kids and felt like giving up” … But then Jesus came along! He reached out to me in my pain. He reached out and touched me with his healing power. He didn’t leave me by the pool. He changed my life! And now I have a future!!”

So, my friend, I want to encourage you to “Pick up your mat” and share your real, true and honest story, the one without any “spin”. It’s “that” story which is really going to help people when you ADD to it the power of your testimony! How one day, the One who loves you the most – Jesus – stepped into your broken and messy life and miracle of miracles – He set you free!! You encountered his unconditional love and saving grace. He gave you a hope when you had no hope. This Jesus restored your broken life and gave you a brand new future. Now that’s the story which others want to hear about! That story of redemption and restoration is going to lead others to Jesus. . That’s the story which is going to set them free.

God uses broken things in which to display His glory.

Pick up YOUR mat – (Your Own Story) and walk into the world, and share it.

Carolyn Conway is the director of Almond Tree Ministries. She speaks and teaches on a range of topics at churches, conferences and women’s events. Her passion is to see the Body of Christ arise and be God’s power and presence in the world. She is also a certified Life Coach. 

Enquiries: carolyn@almondtreeministries.com.au or call 0411 152 524

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This Is Beneath Your Dignity

Many years ago, I read about a Russian Priest, Father John Sergiev (1829-1908). His story greatly impacted me at the time, it still does. 

Father John first thought he wanted to be a monk in the remote areas of Siberia, but after a vision, he realised God wanted him to be a missionary right where he was – in the hustle and bustle of the big urban city of St. Petersburg. While most priests remained in the safe confines of their cathedrals, Father John would go out into the noisy, dirty, crime-ridden slums and back alleys of the city.  He would find someone down and out in the gutter, sleeping off the effects of the previous night’s drink and activities. Father John would cup his chin, look him in the eyes and say “This is beneath your dignity. You were created to house the fullness of God.”

“This is beneath your dignity. You were created to house the fullness of God.”

The part of Father John’s story which impacts me the most is “Father John would cup their chin, look into their eyes and say “This is beneath your dignity. You were created to house the fullness of God”.  The first time I ever read this, I was brought to tears.

Father John’s words are amazing, absolutely amazing. 

They remind us of God’s original intentions for the divine beings He created, every person on the planet. We were designed to “house the fullness of God”. Father John knew this, and he wanted those who slept on the streets to know it too. As he cupped the chin of the homeless one and stared deeply into their eyes, he was showing them “You are deeply and desperately loved by God. You have intrinsic and priceless worth. That’s why sleeping in the gutter is beneath your dignity.” 

 

“To love another person, is to see the face of God”

– Jean Valjean

 

I don’t know if it’s the result of COVID but I see many more people on the street these days, at least in our area. On the main strip of shops near us, three have come in the last month. They each share a section of the footpath and sleep on a piece of cardboard at night. During the day, they place a bucket in front of them and hope for a few coins. I stop and chat to them all the time, offer to pray for them (something they’ve all been so grateful for) and I usually put some money in their bucket. I know their names and they know mine. Each has shared some of their story with me. They are beautiful human beings. 

The other day I saw Chris still sleeping on his mat at 10:30am. (Chris has never wanted any money, he doesn’t even have a bucket. The first time I met him I wanted to give him some money and he said “don’t worry about it, I don’t want any money, I don’t want anything.” He was so broken in spirit, and had such sadness in his eyes). That morning, I felt prompted to pick him up some food at the supermarket a few doors up. I bought a big bag of groceries, with some items I thought he’d like, some bananas, apples, snakes, M&M’s, fruit juice, chocolate biscuits, a block of chocolate, CC’s and more (I know, I know … it’s not very healthy but I felt like I wanted to give him a treat). I walked down the footpath and stopped next to him. “Hi Chris!” He sat up slowly, glanced up and saw it was me. “Did you sleep here all night??”  He said quietly “Yeah, I did”. I said “But Chris, it poured rain last night and it was freezing! He nodded. “Yeah, it was pretty cold”. I said “well …  this doesn’t look to be a good plan, does it? Winter is coming, and it’s coming fast and it’s going to get colder. I’m wondering Chris, why don’t we think of some better options.” It took a while to come up with some, but eventually we did. 

I also talked to him for quite a while about God. I told him God loved him and that He was with him every second of the day and that He wasn’t mad with him at all, not at all, in fact the very opposite. And I shared what I sensed God was saying about his future – that he was a man with a very kind heart who was going to help others in the future, and he had creative gifts he would use again. Tears rolled down his cheeks. I said “Chris, when I leave here, why don’t you talk to God some more?” I grinned at him, and he smiled back. “I will” he said. 

The next day, Chris wasn’t there. 

I’m hoping he decided to follow through with his plan to sleep somewhere better that night. And I’m also hoping that a flicker of hope has been lit within him to believe for a better tomorrow. And then after that, an even better one.

After all, sleeping on the street is “beneath his dignity”. Chris was “created to house the fullness of God”. (Fr. John Sergiev)

“Wherever Father John went, people found new hope and optimism because they discovered, or were reminded of who they were”

“Whatever you did for the least of these brothers and sisters of mine, you did for me” – Jesus

 

Matthew 25:40