Tuesday, June 05, 2007

In Other Words: The Power of Forgiveness

My husband and I led an "Encounter Retreat" this weekend. The purpose of this retreat is to provide an opportunity, atmosphere and safe place where a face to face encounter with God can occur. During this retreat, attendees search themselves and seek the face of God, much like the encounter Jacob had at Peniel. (Genesis 32) They deal with their past, present and future in Christ, identifying the very things that have become stumbling blocks preventing them from living in the fullness that is Christ.

As we led the retreat, there were two parts that both humbled and touched me in a powerful way. The first part was the session about the cross. During this time attendees were reminded of what Christ did at Calvary for us, how He who was without sin took our sins upon Himself. The attendees had been provided small sheet of paper that they were to write their sins on, anything they felt they needed to release. As they did, each individual came to the front and hammered their "sins" to a large cross that was erected in the front. I watched each person stand before the cross and grasp what the Jesus had done for them. It was intimate and raw, but oh so freeing!

The next session that gripped my heart was one on forgiveness. As I spoke to the attendees about the power of forgiveness I was moved as I watched some cry. Some shook their heads at the thought of forgiving anyone- especially themselves. And some just sat there, wanting to respond, but the pain inside them was battling their desire to forgive once and for all. I didn't speak long, about 25 minutes, then I asked the leaders to stand in proxy as the attendees forgave those who had hurt them. Tears still sting my eyes as I remember witnessing these brave souls. How hard it was for them to forgive those who had hurt them. How hard it was for them to forgive themselves. Many tears were shed that day, but many more weights were lifted.

Later I listened as the attendees shared what God had done in them over the weekend. Time and time again I heard the same theme resonating, "What used to make us stumble, God can use to make us stand. What once made us bow our heads in shame, He can use for His glory."~ Joanna Weaver~ Having a Mary Spirit

Thanks to "Joy in the Morning" for hosting "In Other Words" this week! Be blessed and be free in Him!


Hopeful Spirit said...

Sounds like a powerful weekend! Thanks for sharing your experiences with us.

eph2810 said...

This retreat you held sounds wonderful. Sometimes we just have to do the physical 'act' of nailing our sins to the cross to understand His sacrifice for us.
Thank you for sharing, Tara.

Be blessed today and always.

Denise said...

The retreat sounds so wonderful, bless you.

MiPa said...

What a powerful picture of forgiveness. I pray that the attendees were able to turn the corner from stumbling to standing in Christ. Bless you!

Dana said...

I love how you tied forgiveness in with the quote. Sounds like you had a great weekend. You know, forgiveness doesn't come easy for me. Beth Moore said, "Forgiveness doesn't make IT ok, it makes You ok." That has been huge for me :)
Thank you for sharing.

Rosemarie said...

Retreats are an awesome time with God and in fellowship.

Forgiveness is a gift to self. It's freeing and releases God's love in every area of our lives. Set the captive free! Send your miracle working power Lord as we emulate your character, especially through forgiveness.

For were would I be without the Lord’s forgiveness?

Heavenly Voice

Penless Thoughts said...

Thanks for visiting my site and your kind comment. I have added your site to my links.

Bonnie W said...

Hi Tara
Wow! What a powerful exercise - after prayer and soul searching -to come forward and actually take a hammer and nail the sin to the cross. I'm going to pass it along to our youth leader and to my pastor hubby.

Great blog. thanks for stopping by my blog as well. I love meeting new friends.

God bless!

Ruth said...

great thoughts!!forgiveness is sooo very powerful. thank God for the grace He gives for us to walk in it. shalom to you!

Deborah said...

Tara, I really enjoy your blogs. You are a gifted writer!

Linda said...

That must have been an amazing time. I think one of the hardest things in my life was forgiving myself for some of the horrific mistakes I've made. It took so long, but once I finally released it there was such peace.
Thank you for this post.