Offenses Builds Fences
by: Ellene Meece
Jesus said, "Offenses must come . . . "(Matthew 18:7).
Wish it weren't true, but it is. Offenses do come. Emotional strain, injustice, betrayal, misunderstandings; it is all a part of living in this fallen world.
However, we do not have to use offenses as fence posts to build fences around our hearts. Jesus made a way to relieve our weary souls of the heavy burden of an offense. He initiated the art of letting go of pain and heartache and fear to make room for love and peace and healing.
Dave Johnson, pastor of Church of the Open Door in Maple Grove, Minnesota, relates waking up in the middle of the night after a dream and hearing this word, "There is a breach in the wall." Johnson said, "It's like the kind you see in Ireland. They are like stone walls, and there is a big gap in it. Walls keep things in and keep things out. Out of this breach, all this water is flowing. Things are leaving that you can't afford to lose, but when there is a hole in the wall things come in that you don't want in." Dave Johnson knew exactly what the dream meant.
For more than a decade beginning in the mid-1980s, he had a special couple in his church leading worship, Dan and Sandy Adler." We had a real good working relationship," Dan Adler said, referring to the relationship between him and Johnson. "It was real powerful at the time."
In the mid-1990s, however, the Adlers began to feel led to start Heart of the City Ministries. In an email to ministry supporters, Adler wrote: "I feel the Lord telling me that I should use my musical gifts and influence to bring Christians together across denominational and racial dividing lines through worship and prayer." His wife, Sandy, agreed they should obey this calling, and so began the daunting step of faith to start a ministry from scratch in uncharted territory.
However, as the couple moved from fulltime at their church to part time, relationships began to go downhill. Adler recalled, "Everything got real bad. Real painful and lots of confusion, tension . . . ultimately we just left."
That was in 1996. For the next 15 years, disappointment, misunderstanding and pain was on both sides. Then, in 2010, with no idea of his former pastor's dream and word, Adler emailed Johnson asking if they could meet over coffee. Johnson agreed, and during their meeting, Johnson related to Adler his dream and thus began the healing on both sides. Through listening, formal public apologies, and a heartfelt invitation for Dan and Sandy to come back and lead worship for a weekend of special services, the welcome restoration began.
Offenses not only build fences around our hearts but they can also open up a hole that allows torment, disappointment and distrust to take precedence in our lives. Like the pastor said, "Things are leaving that you can't afford to lose, but when there is a hole in the wall things come in that you don't want in."*
Once many years ago, heavy offenses weighed on my heart. In an act of letting them go, I utilized a bunch of helium balloons with my 'offenses' written on each one, and let the refreshing rain of God's relief and healing wash over me as I let them go and watched them disappear into the sky far, far away. Each time they tried to come back, I simply remembered the visual painted on my heart of each one floating up and away from me.
Today, take your misunderstandings, disappointments, heartaches, and the weighty burden of offenses to the Father and allow Him to destroy the fences that have been built around your heart.
Ellene Meece lives in Meeker, Colorado and works with her husband in their natural resource company while running her own online store, Grandma's Treasures Online. Currently, she oversees the marketing for the FMIN Workplace Leaders Network.
*Click here to read the entire article from Dave Johnson.
Wonderful post, Ellene! I wrote an entire Bible study book on the subject of offense. It's deadly, and it's something we need to be reminded of frequently!
by: Niki Turner