I had an interesting talk with the Holy Spirit the other day. As He moved silently through the space between sleep and wakefulness, I became aware of His presence. With Him came a flowing flag or cloth of green.
I then became aware that there was a color for every “attribute” of God, for lack of a better word.
“What is the color of forgiveness,” I asked the Spirit, which seemed like a logical question at the time.
Green is the color of forgiveness, He answered.
Green? Why green? I wondered. Surely, there was a more suitable color for forgiveness.
Instantly, before my eyes, John 12:24 came to life—in reverse.
“Very truly I tell you, unless a kernel of wheat falls to the ground and dies, it remains only a single seed. But if it dies, it produces many seeds.”—John 12:24
In living color, I saw a brilliant green stalk of wheat, bearing 60 kernels or more. Then it began to shrink back down into the ground, into the seed, the grain, recomposing, and coming up out of the earth whole.
I knew instantly what that grain represented in me.
Revelation 19:10 says,
“Worship God! For the testimony of Jesus is the spirit of prophecy.”
So here’s my testimony . . . .
A couple of summers ago, I went to Bible Camp with my husband, Chuck, and our six-year-old daughter. I was desperate for more of God, but I’d begun to feel as if I’d come to a great wall, barring my path, and there was no ladder in sight. I was expecting great things at this camp. I was asking God to knock down the wall—or give me a ladder.
When nothing happened for two days, discouragement began to set in. Then, the third morning, one of the pastors taught on forgiving as Jesus forgives. After his lesson, he gave an altar call for anyone who was having problems forgiving or knew someone who was.
Having two sons who haven’t spoken to me for years, I went down to pray for them. As an afterthought, I decided to pray for my ex-husband, “Joe”, as well. If anyone needed help forgiving, it was him.
I was feeling pretty good about myself when the Holy Spirit dumped a bucket of ice water on me.
You haven’t forgiven Joe.
To say my first marriage was unhealthy would be an understatement. Being divorced was even worse, with four young children caught in the middle. Especially after my remarriage, four years later, to a wonderful Christian man.
To me, Joe was Satan incarnate. I cringed each time I saw his number on the caller ID, anticipating yet another verbal assault. Every child support adjustment brought unimaginable allegations from him. It was because of him that two of our sons no longer spoke to me. I couldn’t wait until our kids were out of school, and I’d finally be rid of him.
But the Bible commanded me to forgive and love him. So, I prayed for him, tried not to speak ill of him—in front of the kids, to cooperate as best I could on visitations—and basically avoided him as much as possible.
But I had forgiven him—to the best of my ability.
I must have heard wrong.
You haven’t forgiven Joe.
Of course I have! I pray for him, I don’t fight with him—outside of court . . . Chuck even helped him start his car when his battery died outside our house! I don’t repay evil for evil . . . What else can I do?
When He didn’t respond, I stood, dazed, and returned to my seat. My pastor’s wife wrapped her arm around me.
“I’m so glad you went down,” she said. “We’ve been praying for you for weeks. The Lord’s been telling me that you haven’t forgiven your ex-husband.”
I couldn’t believe what I was hearing! What is this? I thought, Some kind of conspiracy?
“It’s affecting all your other relationships,” she went on. “It’s preventing you from being effective for God.”
Tears of frustration spilled down my cheeks. “I don’t understand,” I said.
She squeezed my shoulder. “Pray about it,” she said. “Just pray.”
The Ugly Truth
The rest of the day was a blur. I begged God to make me understand, but I couldn’t see past my own self-pity. That evening I called Chuck, who had returned home to work. He was always my voice of reason. But I don’t know if I was looking for the truth or justification.
What I was looking for was of no consequence. As I poured out my woes to my soul mate, a door opened in the back of my mind, flooding my consciousness with the truth of the eleven years since my divorce. Every hateful word, thought, and deed, every vicious court battle, fought under the guise of what was best for the kids . . . . The ugly truth was, I hated my ex-husband—and I loved it. I wanted him to pay for destroying our family—for the rest of his miserable life.
In the mirror of Christ’s perfection, I saw clearly how dirty I was inside. How could I expect the pure holiness of my God, to dwell in such filth? And yet, how could I live without something that had been a part of me for so long?
All that night, I pleaded for God to help me. I returned to the altar the next morning.
“Lord,” I prayed, “I don’t know how to do what you’re asking of me. I want more of You, and I’m willing to do whatever it takes. But you’re going to have to show me how.”
And I heard Him say,
Let it go.
My tears pooled on the altar as all the pain, fear, guilt, and grief of the last twenty-six years welled up in me. Every memory of how this man had hurt and betrayed me. Every nasty word he had said to and about me. Every friend and relative who had turned their back on me because of what he had told them. Every tear our children had cried because of something he had said or done . . .
Everything in me screamed, But, he doesn’t deserve to be forgiven!
My Father’s answer came swiftly and quietly.
Do you deserve My forgiveness?
Just the thought of my answer brought gut-wrenching sobs.
Joe is my child, too, He went on. I love him every bit as much as I love you.
I’d honestly never thought of it that way. I’d fooled myself into thinking that my good behavior made me more loveable to God.
You’ve been trying so hard to protect yourself, My child. You cannot protect yourself. Only I can protect you. Let Me protect you.
The Lightbulb Moment
So, that’s what this was all about. Trusting God.
My need for justification, my fear of getting hurt again, my desire to come out on top, and my belief that I deserved it . . . It was all a lie.
I wasn’t a helpless reactionary—a victim. I was making a choice. I was choosing myself over God.
Unfortunately, what I was really choosing was prison over freedom. I wanted out of that prison, yet I was terrified of what lay beyond the walls. The walls I had been building, not since my first marriage, but from the first time I learned that people could hurt me.
Lord, I cried. What You ask is beyond me. You’re going to have to do it for me. I will do whatever you tell me to do—but You will have to deal with my heart.
I began to imagine what this would look like. I’d probably have to write Joe a letter . . . forget the back child support he owed—maybe even write him a check. I only knew that whatever the Lord told me to do, I would do it—no matter how much it hurt.
When Chuck and our son came to retrieve us from camp a few days later, we all wrote our prayers on scraps of paper, carried them up Prayer Mountain, and nailed them to the cross that stood at the top. At home that night, sleep didn’t come. I had to teach the adult Bible class the next morning, and the events of the week turned in my mind. I mulled over my testimony, praying for guidance—wondering when God would give me direction concerning Joe.
Suddenly, He spoke. You will go to Joe and ask his forgiveness.
Only days before, this would be the worst possible thing He could ask of me. But the moment He spoke the words, the power of the Holy Spirit hit me like a tsunami, taking with it every ounce of hate, fear, and unforgiveness.
What felt like the weight of the world lifted from me, and I felt as if I were floating. Not only did I know I could ask Joe to forgive me, I couldn’t wait! I felt love I’d never known before. Supernatural love. I knew I would never be the same again. I spent the rest of the night in praise and worship beside my sleeping husband, not willing a moment’s separation from God’s presence.
In class the next morning, the Spirit came on me in power, and what a testimony! Everyone commented on the change they saw in me. It was unbelievable.
Facing the Music
It took several weeks to get Joe to respond to my calls and emails, and when he did, it was with great caution. I realized then the fear I had caused him. When he finally met with me, he was stunned by what God had done in me.
“I’ll forgive you on one condition—that you forgive me,” he said. We spent an hour and a half talking, crying, even laughing. We ended our meeting with a prayer for healing for our family.
Two years ago you would never have convinced me that such a meeting could occur. I don’t know why. If God is capable of changing a cancerous tumor in me into a lump of unidentifiable tissue, couldn’t He just as easily change my heart?
To think, the only thing keeping that change from happening was me. But, what amazes me is that God did all the work! All I did was make the choice to let that seed of pride fall to the ground and die. Now, new growth can come, fresh and green. I pray it will bring forth much fruit, like the stalk of wheat in my dream, as others trust God to help them let go of the toxic seed of pride, and make their own prison breaks.
Therefore if the Son makes you free, you shall be free indeed.—John 8:36
Hmm. I wonder what the color of freedom is . . .
God’s grace and peace be yours,