I want to share a story today of forgiveness and sovereignty. I shared this at the conference, but with the book Altogether Forgiven soon to be released, I thought this would be a nice appetizer. As I prayed for this book, I kept hearing the Lord say, “There is no forgiveness without sovereignty.” This is so huge! God’s sovereignty and forgiveness are co-joined or it is not truly forgiveness.
A Story of Forgiveness and Sovereignty
When I first came to Shulamite Ministries, the Lord asked me to enter into a season of solitude. Jesus wanted to unplug me from a life of effort, fear, and hysteria and this was how He chose to do it. He just said, “Come away with Me.” So I did. During this season, He used Martha Kilpatrick’s book, All and Only, to open me up and reveal Himself to me. He allowed me, over a two-year period, to try Him for all of my offenses with Him. I hurled all my “whys” at Him.
“Why did this happen?”
“Why didn’t You do this?”
“What is this for?”
“Why was this, this way?”
“Why did You allow that?”
I didn’t do this with pretty Hosanna music playing. I was raw and I was real. And He allowed me to dialog with Him in this way. I wasn’t disrespectful, but I was amazed that He was willing to answer me and not just crush me for daring to be so bold with the Creator of the Universe. But I found out that He was up for the challenge. He was interested in my heart and I engaged Him with it. It isn’t as if my inquiry upset His sovereignty or right to do as He willed. It was just that He wanted my heart to be His completely, even with my ugly offenses.
Forgiveness of Our Deepest Wounds
In the book All and Only, He showed me His sovereign hand over everything. God uses this life with all its hurts to mold and knead us. And the tool most effective in shaping us is our offenses. Why? Because they are rooted in our hearts. Little offenses that can be shrugged off are one thing, but the things that truly wound us come from our closest relationships: father, mother, sister, brother, pastor, spouse… These are true wounds because they have access to the heart—deep access. These offenses are the ones that can wound us for a lifetime. Jesus said, “Blessed are he who is not offended in Me.” And if He is truly sovereign, then all these offenses are IN HIM.
In the big 10, God commands us to “Honor thy father and mother” because His sovereign hand used them regardless of what it is they did to us. Now I know for some people the offense is heinous. And I would never personally ask for someone to forgive some of the things that has been done to them. It’s not mine to do, nor would I presume. Looking at them I say to God, “Dear Jesus, that’s so horrible!” But in sovereignty, it was Him.
His Sovereignty Over It ALL
We have to make peace and deal with the sovereignty of God in order to forgive. God’s sovereignty and forgiveness are co-joined or it is not truly forgiveness. There is no way we can actually go through true forgiveness unless we’re willing to accept His sovereign hand and receive His true goodness in all that happened and in all our offenses. It’s just impossible.
After the season of solitude and my trying of the Lord, I came to the fact that I don’t want a God who is not in full control. Though I am completely vulnerable to Him in this state, I am also safer than I could ever be otherwise. His grace is given to me to live through anything He might sovereignly allow. And my acceptance of His sovereign hand gives me the ability to see beyond the circumstances, and to gaze into His glorious face. God does not shy away from the things that might cause me pain, but He perfectly uses them to bring me to Himself.
I can know Him only as I embrace Him as my Sovereign.