This fall KAIROS weekend (October 7-9) took a different direction for our team and the women of Fluvanna Correctional Center at Troy, VA. Instead of our usual preparation (which includes your wonder cookies!), our leader felt that God had called her and each of us to explore the very important topic of forgiveness.
As you may know, God’s unconditional love and forgiveness are at the heart of the KAIROS Prison Ministry. And within prison walls, unforgiveness runs rampant; however, unforgiving spirits lurk far beyond the confines of a prison. They can affect each of us in our daily existence, robbing us of experiencing God’s love and peace for ourselves and for those with whom we share our lives.
The topic for our retreat was, “Forgiven People Forgive.” In a series of shared personal talks and discussions, several things became clear.
- Forgiveness is a choice we make out of obedience to God. Matthew 6:14-15 tells us : For if you forgive others their trespasses, your heavenly Father will also forgive you; but if you do not forgive others, neither will your Father forgive your trespasses.
- The world tells us to get even, to revenge; but as followers of Christ, we are to become God’s mirror. God desires His forgiven people to be those who forgive.
- We forgive for ourselves. When we withhold forgiveness, we hold ourselves hostage to something or someone else. This act causes anger and bitterness. This spills over into our lives and only hurts us.
- Forgiveness is a process. We may forgive others, situations, or ourselves, but to forget is difficult. Forgiveness doesn’t erase the past, but it gives us a chance for a better future. We must surrender the issue to God, lay it in his hands, keep our focus and trust in Him, for He as promised to deal with our hurts in His time and on our behalf.
For me, personally, forgiveness is a gift – a gift given to each of us by the grace of God through the shed blood of His precious Son at Calvary. That act of true love and true forgiveness was one for which we will always be grateful.
As we approach this holy season of Advent, may we focus on the most valuable Christmas gift of all – the love, forgiveness, and freedom granted to us by our Lord through His Son, Jesus Christ.
Yours faithfully, Cheri Martin