“We were buried therefore with him through baptism unto death: that like as Christ was raised from the dead through the glory of the Father, so we also might walk in newness of life.” Romans 6:4
Her casket was lowered into the southern red clay hole. He never shed a tear. My friend harbored bitterness against his mother and left it unresolved. No time to make amends now. She was dead. Forgiveness was unheard of in that family. The graveside grief was felt by outsiders only. Those close to the situation squirmed in the tension and prayed for tears to flow – some sign of remorse or brokenness. My friend’s eyes remained dry and cold. So did his heart. If only he could bundle all the bitter memories, the fights, the hurtful words, and toss them in the ground below. The dirt would cover the casket and leave the memories behind. Perhaps in the years to come he’d remember a few good times. Surely there were Christmases or birthdays where laughter, presents, and love abounded. But I never saw him flinch that day or anytime thereafter. He chose to hold onto bitterness. Though his mother was buried that day, this young man walked away dead on the inside, holding onto hurts he allowed to define him.
As believers we have a choice – to walk in newness of life or hold onto the past, a dead man walking. I’ve observed many in my lifetime: in churches, families, friends, even pastors. The “I just can’t let go” disease decays the heart and mind. One wrapped in hurt is a gift to no one. Hitting rewind on the years of pain robs the life out of us all.
Forgiveness breathes life into the soul. The heart and mind are renewed, the horizon changes, and the landscape of life appears less rocky. Both the forgiver and the forgiven are freed to walk in newness of life. As Christ forgave us and releases us from the penalty of sin, we arise to a new life. So it is between two souls burying their hurts, choosing forgiveness and walking in a new life. This is real life!
If today you are struggling with letting go of hurts, hold a funeral. Bury the trespasses. Cover them with the soil of forgiveness and walk away. The choice is yours….