Jesus Did It!
IT WAS SO DIFFICULT TO FORGIVE MYSELF
By: Dan Vanderboegh
"When are you going to forgive YOURSELF, so you can receive God's forgiveness?" This was the message I kept trying to kill ... to my own hurt.
Greek poet Homer, in his epic poem 'The Iliad', told of a messenger who delivered a message from Troy to the authorities. The authorities did not like the message and then stoned the messenger to death for bringing such a message.
Our Bible tells us about God sending His Son to deliver a message to the people of Israel. But the religious authorities did not like it and had Jesus nailed to the cross.
Today we do not kill the messenger, but judge the message according to how we like or dislike the messenger. I'm just as guilty of that as the next man, but luckily I had one messenger that persisted in me getting the message.
I was raised going to Sunday school and church every Sunday, even though my parents would only go for Christmas and Easter. They didn't need to know the Lord any better one would guess; us kids did. And so I had heard so many times about us forgiving others and God's forgiveness of our sins. I tried to live by the Golden Rule even when it seemed tough.
In 1990 I came to prison for the first time. All through the legal proceedings I was in shock. I took full responsibility for what I did and pled guilty. I was told by my attorney and a probation officer that I would get two years probation as my sentence. But the judge gave me 5 ' 10 years in prison, so I arrived at prison feeling the lowest I think I have ever been. I felt no hope for me.
My wife and family had stood by me and tried to comfort me. They had forgiven me and even my victim forgave me. I appreciated it but something seemed to be missing. They would remind me that if I had asked God for forgiveness, He would surely forgive me. I had already asked God for His forgiveness, but still something was missing.
I got involved with the prison church, Prison Fellowship, Christian fellowship, Bible studies, and a prayer group. Each one of these reaffirmed what I already knew about God's forgiveness of our sins. But no matter how much I prayed to God, something was still missing and God seemed reluctant to show me what it was. I could not seem to get above the depressed state I was in.
We had one member in our Christian community that seemed to be someone you should be able to turn to for God's word and comfort. Skippy was called a Bible thumper. He could quote just about any verse in the Bible, and loved talking to people about the Lord. But Skippy would leave his Bible and God in prison when he would be released. This was his fourth or fifth time in prison. Also, if you wanted something that was considered to be contraband, you would go see Skippy, listen to him preach about why you should not want what you are looking for, and then you waited for someone else to contact you with what you were looking for. So many of us did not want to be associated with Skippy.
One day when I was especially feeling down, Skippy caught up with me on the back 40. He confronted me about how I looked so down and preached to me about God and His love for us. Not thinking too highly of the messenger, I let most of his words go in one ear and out the other. What he had to say had no importance to me and I already knew about God's forgiveness and believed it.
But Skippy said something that no one else had said to me: 'When are you going to forgive YOURSELF so you can accept God's forgiveness?'
I did not want to think about what he told me but it kept haunting me. I kept coming up with excuses why I shouldn't pay any attention to him, but his words would not go away. When Skippy would see me he always made a point to ask me if I had forgiven myself yet. It got to the point where all I had to do was see him and I would automatically ask myself that question. God had sent Skippy to me with a message and no matter how badly I wanted to ignore the message, it still hung there waiting for me to act on it.
I finally took it to the prison chaplain. He asked me if I loved myself. No ' to be honest, I didn't even LIKE myself, because of what I had done. So he asked, 'How can you love your neighbor if you don't love yourself? Don't you take any pride or honor in yourself?'
Now how could I have any pride or honor? I felt I was the lowest thing on Earth. Then he sent me to all places, Genesis 4:3-4.
Abel offered the Lord a fattened lamb without spot or blemish. Abel gave his best most precious lamb, one he could take pride and honor in as he gave it to God. Cain gave God some grain. It does not say it was the best grain of the crop especially selected to give to God. Maybe it was left over from last year's harvest. But it was not something that Cain or God could take pride in.
If we are to sacrifice our self-will (ourselves) to God, what kind of sacrifice would we want to be? I choose to be one that I can be proud of and that means forgiving myself. I found that God had forgiven me for what I had done long ago when I asked him the first time. What He had NOT forgiven me of was my beating up on and not forgiving myself. That was what was missing all the time! Forgiving myself was not easy to do, but well worth while! I feel a lot better about myself and my relationship with God now!
In 2008 I was asked to give a testimony to my Keryx Group. I was all set to give the one I usually use when God spoke to me again, 'Share The OTHER one.' I knew what He was talking about ' the one I just gave you, but I had only given it once before and I felt it was not well received. It was at a church we attended and I would call it a 'feel good church' because the message very seldom convicted the prisoners. But I knew God wouldn't ask for it without purpose.
Five of the 30-some men came up to me later saying that message was for THEM. The last one to tell me waited three days, then told me that he never cared for the messenger so he wasn't fully paying attention to the message. Then he asked me, 'Can you help me forgive myself?' I did; he became my project for the next three months, until he left to go home.
PLEASE HELP SHARE THE BEST NEWS GOD HAS FOR EVERY PERSON!
"And this gospel of the
died for sinners] shall be preached in all the world for a witness
unto all nations; and then shall the end come."
(Quote from Jesus Himself: Matthew 24:14).
Consider how many children in "all the nations" have never heard YET what Jesus accomplished for THEM at the cross? PLEASE HELP SPREAD THE GOOD NEWS TO THE LITTLE CHILDREN!
To help us share the Best News every person needs to hear on this planet, randomly click FOR JESUS on just three (3) of the JESUS DID IT! links below. It will take just a few moments of your time. Please - that's all you are asked to do. God will reward you! (Of course, be highly encouraged to forward one or more of these video clips to those who may have never heard what Jesus did for them on the cross ... or may need to be re-reminded).
JESUS DID IT! JESUS DID IT! JESUS DID IT! JESUS DID IT! JESUS DID IT! JESUS DID IT! JESUS DID IT! JESUS DID IT! JESUS DID IT! JESUS DID IT! JESUS DID IT! JESUS DID IT! JESUS DID IT! JESUS DID IT! JESUS DID IT! JESUS DID IT! JESUS DID IT! JESUS DID IT! JESUS DID IT! JESUS DID IT! JESUS DID IT! JESUS DID IT! JESUS DID IT! JESUS DID IT! JESUS DID IT! JESUS DID IT! JESUS DID IT! JESUS DID IT! JESUS DID IT! JESUS DID IT! JESUS DID IT! JESUS DID IT! JESUS DID IT! JESUS DID IT! JESUS DID IT! JESUS DID IT! JESUS DID IT! JESUS DID IT! JESUS DID IT! JESUS DID IT! JESUS DID IT! JESUS DID IT! JESUS DID IT! JESUS DID IT! JESUS DID IT! JESUS DID IT! JESUS DID IT! JESUS DID IT! JESUS DID IT! JESUS DID IT! JESUS DID IT! JESUS DID IT!
JESUS DID IT! - or - JESUS DID IT!
(Please paste one of the above links onto your Facebook page - website - blog - video; etc.)
Let God Use Your Salvation Testimony!
Daniel shares another precious testimony of how God spared his ability to speak. It is an amazing testimony of God's mercy: http://www.precious-testimonies.com/Hope_Encouragement/u-z/VanderboeghDaniel.htm
Here is a message on the wisdom of forgiving that you may be interested in checking out: WHY FORGIVENESS AND THANKSGIVING ARE SO LIBERATING
Another writing, especially about forgiving oneself: http://www.allaboutgod.com/forgiving-yourself.htm
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