I was so blessed by our Alpha Day Away on Saturday. There was an excitement and anticipation among the people from the Happy Valley homeless shelter as we gathered in a primary school beside the sea, where penguins roam the beach.
There had been an upset with one of the participants when we went to transport them from the shelter. I had invited him to come to the venue in our car, but Margie had also invited someone to come with us. There was not room for both, so I asked him if he would mind going with someone else. He was in our small group and felt secure with us. It was embarrassing for him to have to get out of our car and to move into a car with people that he did not know and he was very upset.
At the start he moped around the venue half-listening to the talk and avoiding Margie and me. Halfway through the day, however, he came to join me during a tea break. He leaned his wiry little frame against the wall and fixed me with sharp, beady eyes that sparkled from under bushy eyebrows. Then he began in his quick staccato way of speaking.
“I was VERY upset this morning, but then I realised what was happening. I was really looking forward to this day, but the devil did not want me to get any benefit from it, so he tried to mess it up for me. But I recognise what he was doing, and I refuse to let him do it.
He put his hand on my shoulder, his piercing eyes still on mine. “Forgiveness! That is the way to get him. He can’t stand that. Forgiveness! I am not going to hold any grudges. I forgive you. I was embarrassed, but I forgive you.”
From that moment on he was alive and participating in everything. And I, too felt a release. I had felt bad about upsetting him and suddenly I was free
What a powerful lesson I learned from a wiry little man who had been addicted to drugs, alcohol and cigarettes when one day, over seven years ago, he decided he had had enough of Satan’s destruction, threw away his drugs and cigarettes, poured a full bottle of whisky down the drain and turned his life over to Jesus. What simple clarity from the Word of God about the power of forgiveness – clarity which the more sophisticated of us blur with all kinds of rationalisation.
The following evening I taught on “Does God Heal Today?”, but for him and for me, the answer was all too obvious! We just need to walk in His ways.