Many years ago I belonged to a church where the pastor preached Sundays, Wednesdays and Fridays all about grace, but anyone who knew him when he was off stage, knew that he never lived grace. In spite of 4 years of teaching, I still had no understanding of grace, especially when I decided to resign and leave from that church because of all the emotional, verbal and spiritual abuse that my family and I endured during those 4 years. When we left that day, that pastor reigned down curses on us, not once thanking us for the 4 years of loving hard-work and sweat that was poured into helping build and grow that church.
My family and I were heartbroken, and our family was nearly destroyed, lost everything we had. Confusion was my best friend in 2010, as I tried to understand, to fully grasp the meaning of grace. In 2013 I joined our new church’s part-time Bible Classes, to learn how to search through scripture and understand what the Bible was saying. I learned many knew things and understood so many things much better than I ever had before. But still I couldn’t grasp the meaning of grace.
March of this year 2015, I experienced a most significant event that changed my life forever. I had landed in huge trouble at work over incorrect information that was given to me. My colleagues kept giving me the wrong advice, without me realising it, which landed me in even deeper trouble. After a week of trying to sort it out and the problem just escalating and giving me nightmares, I finally decided to take it to my boss and explain to him what has been happening.
On the day I decided to speak to my boss, before I even told anyone that I was going to do it, my senior colleagues all told me that I should have spoken with the boss on day one, but because I didn’t I could end up getting a warning. That scared me even me, and I was highly upset when my one colleague went behind my back and told my boss about the incident and some horrible lies minutes before I was supposed to meet with him.
By the time I spoke with him, I was expecting a warning or to be fired. After I explained to him the situation, he calmly leaned back and said two things: 1)Make a simple phone call and confirm that the problem is still there and 2)if the problem is still there, my boss will use the company funds to cover the costs and he will back me up all the way. I burst into tears, not sure what to say, as no one had extended so much mercy to me.
When I made the phone call, I was informed that the other two persons involved had informed me correctly, however the situation was resolved within 24 hours the previous week. The lady on the phone apologised that I was not notified immediately of the changes and continuously led to believe that the problem had escalated.
The following week my boss had a meeting with the head secretary and myself. I expected trouble as the rest of my colleagues made snide remarks and smirked behind my back, saying that I was about to receive a warning or get fired. To my surprise, my boss said that he wanted to apologise for never taking the time to hear how am I doing, and how am I experiencing my colleagues and my work. I practically gaped awe at him. The meeting lasted an hour long, and he gained respect for me as I refused to gossip and bad-mouth my colleagues as they have done. I will never forget what happened, as mercy and grace became a reality to me.
This past Sunday, during the church service, I felt the Holy Spirit tugging at my heart and telling me to leave and climb into my car. After the 2nd song I gave in and left, with no idea where I was going. I felt the Holy Spirit working at me and was within minutes sobbing so hard that I could barely see the road.
When I stopped eventually, I was parked in front of the church where all the pain had started with that pastor. I probably sat for half an hour crying and asking questions. When I calmed down, God reminded me of the story in Matthew 18:21 – 35. I cannot demand mercy and grace without extending it to others.
So I wrote a letter to the pastor saying that I forgive him for everything and wrote a prayer of mercy and grace and blessing out over him and his family. I left the letter in the post box and went home with deep peace in my heart. I told my parents what God did and what I did.
Since then, the chains have fallen off from my family and we are experiencing a peace unlike anything. I have learned that Mercy and Grace is much more powerful when extended to the very people who do not deserve it. Doors have been opened to me, giving me a second chance to complete the things that was robbed from me years ago – even money is being provided, something which was never available before.
And the doors only opened after I extended mercy and grace. Forgiveness sets free more than just the person; it frees even the things that you have been waiting a long time for.