Strong. Fortified. Impenetrable. Deep. The roots of our tallest oak tree spread under the surface of our yard like a maze of power. Unseen from the eye, they are hidden beneath layers of rock, soil, and mud. How vast they travel no one knows, until a bulge happens under the sidewalk or across the yard. When the root finally pushes through the surface, it is obvious and intrusive. No longer hidden from the world around it, the damage must be dealt with swiftly, to lessen the blow to the surrounding landscape or to a pedestrian passing by.
There are deep roots in my heart too.
Wounds happen, words sting, friendships fail, opportunities are lost, and we mess up from time to time. Living in a fallen world with broken people insures that. Not able to escape the ugliness of human nature, we grow weary from feeling slighted or forgotten. Consumed by continual disappointment, certain people reinforce long-formed hurts, growing deeper and more complex as time goes by. Yet sometimes we forget that we have done our fair share of hurting too. That other people might have been pushed down by our words or inclusiveness. Forgetting that our bitterness is hurting us more than them, our heart is weakened by holding on to the pain of past deed or present circumstance.
My bitter root of unforgiveness can’t be ignored anymore.
As time marches on and we seek to live a life that honors God, these negative feelings get buried. Ashamed that they lie within us, we mask and hide our bitterness, rage, and unforgiveness under kind words, righteous acts, and friendly smiles. Feeling like we can “fake it until we make it”, we yearn to feel different towards people, but we think it is best when it come from them. Maybe it they change their behavior. Perhaps if they ask for forgiveness. Always if they come to repentance and seek reconciliation. Feeling like our feelings are justified, even righteous, we make excuses for our thoughts. We justify our actions. Last night Jesus showed me something profound:
“I can wave my banner of righteous anger all day long, but, in the end, my sin is still my sin.”
Ephesians 4:31-32 commands, “Get ride of all bitterness, rage and anger, brawling and slander, along with every form of malice. Be kind and compassionate to one another, forgiving each other, just as in Christ God forgave you.”
Hebrews 12:14 states, “Make every effort to live in peace with everyone and to be holy; without holiness no one will see the Lord.”
Colossians 3:13 says, “Bear with each other and forgive one another if any of you has a grievance against someone. Forgive as the Lord forgave you.”
Job 12:22 promises, “He [God] reveals deep and hidden things; he knows what lies in darkness, and light dwells within him.”
Today I am saying, “ENOUGH.” No longer will I let hurt feelings consume my attitude towards people. No longer will I be a bystander to gossip that only strengthens my notions. No longer will I make excuses for my feelings or excuse my actions.
I will pray instead of lash out. Think before I speak. Put on the banner of love for the sake of my own heart and for the ministry God is doing through His people and His church. It is not going to be easy. My pride will take a hit. As the shovel busts up my now-exposed root, I will come face to face with my own flesh and ugliness. But I trust that God can and will begin to do a good work in my heart by slowly laying down these things out of obedience to Him.
Freedom is contagious. As we are released from old wounds, it gives someone else the courage and boldness to say “ENOUGH” too. For the glory of the God’s kingdom, let’s bring our dark thoughts to light and see God redeem our hearts and relationships of all kinds.
If you need to bring a bitter root to light today, be brave. Lay it before God’s throne. And, in FAITH, ask Him to renew your heart and mind today and for all the days to come.