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A Painful Illustration

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Several years ago my husband and I were working at a ministry to the American Indians in Arizona.
I chose one afternoon to sit down and rest on top of a short post that lined a cactus bed.
I don't know if it was the heat of the sun or what caused it to happen but I slowly reeled face down into that teddy-bear cactus bed.
Workers ran to help me and found that I was literally covered from my shoulders to my knees in Teddy Bear cactus joints and needles.
Several suggestions were made as to how to get me to the nursing quarters.
Someone ran to get a golf cart but there was no way I could climb into it.
I had a very large section of the cactus across my abdomen so I said to one of the men, "just pull it off.
" He looked rather startled but I explained.
"Do it quick.
It went in that way and it will come out that way but don't pull slow.
" After several assurances that I was serious he prepared to do so.
I can honestly say it didn't hurt any worse coming out than it did going in.
The next couple hours were spent in the infirmary while Cecil (my husband) and a couple nurses pulled the needles out one at a time with needle nosed pliers and tweezers.
A few years before the Lord had given me a very similar illustration (minus the physical pain) of what I was doing with emotional hurts and wounds.
He gave me a vision of myself carrying, in my arms, a very needle-ly cactus.
He explained to me, in my spirit, that when I refused to lay aside the emotional wounds that I carried, I was carrying around something that constantly hurt and re-wounded me over and over.
Not only that, but the wounds were becoming infected and producing putrid sores in my spirit.
His instructions were that I needed to allow Him to remove those offending hurts once and for all.
That was not easy to do.
Some of those hurtful things had been there for a long time, in fact, they had accumulated over several years.
The first step that I needed to take was full surrender while He pulled the offending unforgiveness out of my spirit.
There was such a rush of relief that I felt almost giddy with relief.
Deliberately He set about extracting the offenses one by one as I chose to submit myself to His ministration.
Now, back to my original scenario.
So many people were praying for me that I suffered little more than a prickly rash sensation over the next couple days.
But it was an experience I will never forget.
In fact, I'm reminded of it every time I see a cactus (even a picture of one) and I give them a wide berth.
The surgery that Jesus did on my life was awesome.
Over several days (and perhaps weeks) I was often reminded of the incident by the prickling occurrence of new offenses that tried to attach themselves to my life but He helped me to remember to immediately release it all into His care.
There was the temptation to once again pick up those old hurts but as I turned to Him with a fresh assurance that I still forgave those who had inflicted those old wounds, He administered fresh peace and grace.
I can't help but wonder if, perhaps, you are one who holds hurts and wounds to yourself like treasured legacies.
Without realizing it those wounds are creating spiritual corruption with in your spirit until you cannot respond to life anymore without lashing out at those who try to get too close.
You feel doomed to a life of pain and unhappiness all because 'those people' chose to deal you a deadly blow.
In reality, the pain of those wounds is felt by no one except yourself.
To the best of your ability you will try avoiding any situation that will put you in that position again.
You will isolate yourself from relationships, except a special few, because you just might be hurt again.
Like a wounded puppy you bite at all who try to help.
Let me assure you, forgiveness is the only remedy.
I know, you may feel 'they don't deserve it.
' Well, maybe they don't but may I respectfully say that the Savior didn't deserve to die for your sin and mine either.
He was perfect yet He died for us because He loved us.
And He willingly forgives all our transgressions...
and unforgiveness is a transgression.
Therefore we must forgive others for their transgressions against us.
Jesus vividly points that out in 'The Parable of the unmerciful Servant.
' Mt 18:21- 35 Then Peter came to Jesus and asked, "Lord, how many times shall I forgive my brother when he sins against me? Up to seven times?" Jesus answered, "I tell you, not seven times, but seventy-seven times.
Therefore, the kingdom of heaven is like a king who wanted to settle accounts with his servants.
Since he was not able to pay, the master ordered that he and his wife and his children and all that he had be sold to repay the debt.
The servant fell on his knees before him.
"Be patient with me,"he begged, "and I will pay back everything.
" The servant's master took pity on him, canceled the debt and let him go.
But when that servant went out, he found one of his fellow servants who owed him a hundred denarii.
He grabbed him and began to choke him.
"Pay back what you owe me!" he demanded.
His fellow servant fell to his knees and begged him, "Be patient with me, I will pay you back.
" But he refused.
Instead, he went off and had the man thrown into prison until he could pay the debt.
When the other servants saw what had happened, they were greatly distressed and went and told their master everything that had happened.
Then the master called the servant in.
"You wicked servant," he said, "I canceled all that debt of yours because you begged me to.
Shouldn't you have had mercy on your fellow servant just as I had on you?" In anger his master turned him over to the jailers to be tortured, until he should pay back all he owed.
This is how my heavenly Father will treat each of you unless you forgive your brother from your heart.
The essence of the story is this in case you just don't get it.
When we fail to forgive others, whomever they may be, we constantly treasure every offense in our hearts until we are tortured on a continual basis with our own unforgiveness.
That unforgiveness is then unforgiven by our heavenly Father until we are willing to forgive those who offend us.
The truth is this...
we cannot undo the past! Therefore we will deal with it one way or another.
We will either keep the pain alive by clutching it (like the needle-ly cactus) or we will allow the Lord Jesus to remove the needles by submitting to Him.
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