And then I see myself. I am surrounded by a mountain of golden nuggets. I reach down and lift up a shiny piece. I run my finger across it's smooth surface, enjoying the coolness of the metal. There, engraved in the gold is a word: BITTERNESS. I do not like the word, so I reach for another. This nugget is just as beautiful, just as golden as the last. I hold it close to myself, satisfied with the joy it brings me in that moment. I see a word scrolled across the bottom: ANGER.
Like the last, I don't care for the negativity in the word so delicately etched into the metal, yet the more I stare at it, the more I connect with it. There are more. I find BETRAYAL, UNFORGIVENESS, HATRED, DISTRUST... the amount of nuggets is surprisingly large. As I study each piece, I begin to see an attractiveness in them. I delight in the glimmer of the gold, and although it's message is negative, I begin to justify it. I tell myself that I deserve to hang on to these nuggets. True, what they stand for isn't good, healthy or right... but it feels good to hold on anyway.
That's when I notice something new. The metal pieces are not nuggets at all. Instead, each piece of gold is connected to another and I shudder when I realize that the metals are formed into links. What appeared to be a mountain of beautiful gold, was simply metal chains covered in shiny newness.
That's what anger and bitterness do. They feel good in the moment. If you're like me, you tell yourself you deserve to hang on to the hurt and pain. You've been wronged, after all!
Yet I stand amazed at the gift that forgiveness is. And not for the one who has wronged me, but for me.
I see Jesus reach down and offer His hand as I step up and out of the pile of chains that hold me captive. The chains can sit there. The wrongs that have been done won't go away... but I don't have to stay caught in the middle of it all! I am offered a gift of joy, abundant life and FREEDOM!
The choice is mine to make.
So here I am. I find myself at this intersection of decision and discover once again these words in the Book that gives LIFE. "So, chosen by God for this new life of love, dress in the wardrobe God picked out for you: compassion, kindness, humility, quiet strength, discipline. Be even-tempered, content with second place, quick to forgive an offense. Forgive as quickly and completely as the Master forgave you. And regardless of what else you put on, wear love. It's your basic, all-purpose garment. Never be without it." Col 3:12-14 MES
My burden is lifted and I laugh. When will I learn? I had convinced myself that I deserved those moments of anger! I thought it felt good to hold onto bitterness. I told myself it was only for a moment. I believed the sacrifice would be in the letting go, rather than hanging on to those golden nuggets of deception. But I was wrong. The sacrifice and pain only lasted as long as I refused give up the pile of golden chains.
And once again, I am free.