A month ago, I heard Pastor H.B. Charles, Jr. teach on “How To Get Even God’s Way”. When he said the title, I think all I heard was “how to get even”. I HURRIED UP and found pen and paper! I gave my sister a wink and said “Yeah baby!” I’m all for getting even, honey. Do me wrong if you want to and you will regret it. Well, maybe not. I get folks back all the time…in my head. At the time, I was having a hard time letting go of what someone had done to me, so this really piqued my interest. Here’s this minister about to give me some juicy tips on how to do it and you know he had scripture to back it up. I’d definitely come to the right church service. Yessuh! Can you say “He’s an on-time God”?? I leaned forward in the pew, eager as all get out.
Ugh. Everything he said had the underlining theme of forgiveness. What in the world?! Well, he did say “God’s way”. I guess. Referencing Genesis 50:15-21, he gave three points:
- Accept that you are not God.
- Look at the situation through the eyes of providence.
- Treat them like they’ve already been forgiven.
I’ve had time to live out these points. I didn’t want to, but holding onto what had happened to me was really killing my spirit and I wanted to be free of it. So I revisited my notes and tried to apply them to my life. Here’s how that played out…
Point 1: Accept that you are not God. I can admit that I’ve wanted to get folks back for what they’ve done to me. I’ve also waited for God to get folks…the way I wanted Him to. The thing is, He never does. I keep inviting Him to join me in my pettiness, but He’s like “I’ll pass”. What’s up with that?? (He’s not exactly a team player. I need to talk to Him about that.) In this passage of scripture, Issac has died and Joseph’s brothers are fearful that he will now get them back for the evil they had done to him. Joseph’s response: “Am I God?” Me: “Brace yourselves, boys. The pain is about to rain!” YES, JOSEPH! YES! YES! YES! GET ‘EM!! Surely, Joseph had earned this. C’mon, now! Can’t Joseph at least get in a couple of jabs, God?? Makes sense to me. Then again, I’m not God – which was Pastor Charles’ point.
The only way I could get out of this messed-up thinking when it came to my own life was to jump down off of God’s throne – I was keeping it warm for Him – and let Him take His rightful place in my heart. Letting God reign and rule is something I struggle with. Being under God’s rule means that I am subject to His ways and…well…we don’t see eye-to-eye all of the time. I want to get folks and He says “love them”. If God says “forgive”, then I have to forgive. If God says “let it go”…ooooh. I know this is in the Bible somewhere: “an eye for an eye and a tooth for a tooth”. S-C-R-I-P-T-U-R-E. So, what about that, God? Those were the good ol’ days. No lie: a lot of folks would be walking around here with seeing-eye dogs and bare gums if I had my way. God broke it down to me real smooth-like: what if I allowed those you’ve hurt to be ‘God’? Ouch. I’d be an eye-patch-wearin’, snaggle-toothed fool. Gumming down applesauce. I’d still be cute, though. I’m just sayin’. I don’t like this “put the shoe on the other foot” stuff. Fine. I’m not God: You are and there’s nothing I can do about it. I have to step back and let Him be God. (I am really trying to be happy about that.)
Point #2: Look at the situation through the eyes of providence. Let me give you the definition of providence, first. (You should’ve seen me scrambling to secretly google it on my phone just in case Pastor Charles asked for the definition. I ended up calling someone by accident.) Providence means “the protective care of God or of nature as a spiritual power” and “timely preparation for future eventualities”. This wasn’t really hard for me to do. I just didn’t want to do it. Not right then. Give me a few more months of anger and then…
Now, you know there are times when you knew that God’s hand was all up and through a situation, but you didn’t want to admit it because you were hurt or angry. When you knew it was a blessing that something didn’t turn out the way you’d wanted. When you’ve dodged a bullet..but then again, how painful would it really have been? There have been situations where I KNEW the way it worked out was for my good. Even when it hurt. Yeah, sometimes the things that help you can hurt. And hurt bad. See, my Father knows me. He knows what’s good for me and He knows how to get my attention when I’m “off”. I’m a tough cookie that sometimes needs to be broken in order to get back on track. When I am broken, I usually gather up the crumbs I can salvage and tearfully glare back at God, asking, “Why did You let it happen this way? You could’ve just told me what You were trying to teach me! (Or just placed me where You needed me to be!) Why everything gotta be a lesson??” Sometimes, I think God is so extra. Let’s take a snapshot of Joseph’s life: in order for him to be in a position to help his family during a famine, he is thrown into a pit by his brothers, sold into slavery, and spends years in a prison for a crime he didn’t commit. Really?? Why did he have to go through all of that, God? You couldn’t just give him a job transfer to Egypt? Look over your life. Wouldn’t it be great if your journey from point A to point B didn’t look like:
(And if ONE MORE person – I just need one – quotes Romans 8:28’s “all things work together for good” when I’m going through something…)
I get it, I truly do. I’m perfectly fine with admitting that there are a lot of times where even when I know that God is in control, I still think the process is too much. Everything that I’ve gone through has really been for my good. I know. Got it. It’s the process, though. I’m a learner, meaning I don’t really focus on where I end up, but rather what I’ve learned. When I can recognize the growth, I’m usually all good. It may take a second for me to do that because I’m usually fussing about the process. I’ve accepted that through it all, God has me in His care. One day I’ll appreciate the process as I’m in it.
Point #3: Treat them like they’ve already been forgiven. Scan this paragraph. How many sentences are there? About twelve. As you can see, I don’t have much to say on this point. I didn’t even want to write it down when Pastor Charles said it. My sister made me. Meanie. I can smile in your face and pretend that all is forgiven, but I don’t think the minister meant “be fake”. Oh well. I tried. NEXT! I need another point because this one is not going to work for the kid. I brought this up to God. “Lord, I’m not a ‘fake it til you make it’ girl. You need to give me another solution.” Ever the team player, He said, “Sure. Then just go ahead and forgive. That way, you won’t have to be fake.”
So…I’ve done the first two points. Hopefully, I will have successfully executed the last point at least once by the time I talk to you all again. It’s a process…