I hope to be able to share this in a nutshell, quickly and sweetly.
For a few years I've been participating in this cell group where I've some issues with a prominent member. He is growing in the Lord but he seems to be getting legalistic this past year, focusing on the letter of the Bible but sacrificing the spirit therein. He can't graciously accept feedbacks from the others but insists on carrying out God's work according to his faulty interpretations. He reminds me of the self-righteous elder brother in the story of the prodigal son.
Life was getting unbearable with him in the group and I was exceedingly disappointed, hurt and angered to the point of being tempted to give up my faith totally. My reaction alarmed me. I recognized it as a big fat lie from the devil and though I ranted about it, I resisted the thought. Recognizing the danger I was in, I turned straight to God and prayed that I would forgive that brother and move on in my faith. Though I didn't feel much forgiveness flowing out from me, I'd prayed by faith. There are things we can do, and there are things that only God can do. I gave myself time, and I gave God time. I trusted that God would eventually work it out in my life.
I'd actually left the cell group for fear of further confrontations with him, and intended to leave matters this way. Now, I'm embarking on a new job. There's so much to learn, but peace continues to elude me.
This morning in Church, someone preached on the importance of family and fatherhood. Throughout the message, I learnt so many things that could apply to different aspects of my life. Though the message did not center on forgiveness, I knew that God had something for each one of us in that congregation according to our needs.
Fathers were called to the altar to be prayed for, and my spouse went forward. I didn't know he'd left my side because I was so engrossed in my own prayer. I didn't intend to say this prayer, but somehow (I believe) God just led me into it so naturally. I prayed, "Father, I forgive ........ totally and unreservedly." Immediately, I sensed a great relief. The weight on my heart lifted.
After service today, I've gained a new perspective for my new job. I've more courage, and I intend to return to the cell group, though I'd prayed to God to give me space to time my visits. I can't visit as often or participate as actively as before because the brother has yet to recognize the problems he has created for us. But I shall return to encourage the other brothers and sisters in Christ, knowing that they've been praying for me.
God's words are not mere commandments. His words heal. He has commanded us to forgive, because only thus will He be able to heal us. Someone says that when you forgive, you're releasing a prisoner, only to find out that the prisoner is YOURSELF.
I've asked my family to sustain me in prayer, that regardless of the future happenings in this cell group, I will not be so seriously hurt that I'll go into an emotional and spiritual spin again.
The Holy Spirit distinctly put a song in my heart 2 weeks' back. It goes, "I've decided to follow Jesus, no turning back, no turning back." Jesus Himself has promised us, "I will never leave you nor forsake you."
May the Lord bless and encourage you all in your walk with Him.