“Grow in the grace and knowledge of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ” (2 Peter 3:18).
A friend of mine, Sister Leonella, was a missionary in Uganda, establishing educational systems and prayer groups. One day when she was home for a visit, I asked, “You know I travel around the world speaking to Catholic groups. What should I teach God’s people?” Her voice was strong and the message was clear: “Teach them to love, and to shed unlove.” Isn’t this what Lent is all about? Saying yes to God, yes to love, and no to the enemy, unlove?
So I pray for you, and myself, that the Lord will get that message into our very soul: To love and shed unlove. An experience I had in Northern Ireland some years ago, has some important lessons in this regard. I was the leader of a team conducting a healing service in Derry and on our preparation day I missed a personal family appointment set up by Brendan, my host. My team and I had gone to the north coast to meet a priest and were late returning. My host was furious. Walking along the street in Derry, he said stiffly, ‘I brought you here for a day of healing and love and you haven’t demonstrated that love. I am sorry you came!’
Well, I huffed and puffed in self righteousness and tried to shift the blame to my team. ‘It’s not all my fault’, I proclaimed. A short snort was his only response. Then the Holy Spirit got my attention: ‘Linda, just die’. (Die to unlove.) We know the scripture: “I have been crucified with Christ and I no longer live, but Christ lives in me” (Gal 2:20).
Just die. If you remember nothing else from this article, remember this: When God asks us to do something, he releases the grace to do it. That moment in Derry, the grace was there. My rigid wall of self-righteousness dropped away like a dirty garment. I turned to Brendan and told him I was wrong, and I was sorry. I asked for and received forgiveness. Then the Holy Spirit began to move.
In our evening of preparation prior to the event, love and forgiveness and tears flowed among us. We were a pure team, a united team. At one point Brendan turned to me and said, “Linda I see a ball of fire in your hands tomorrow. There are going to be miracles.” And oh, the mighty miracles flowed the next day in our amazing crowd in a community hall in Derry, which included people who had bussed in from Belfast. (I learned later that we were padlocked in from the inside to keep out the terrorists.) More than one person reported to Brendan that they saw the ball of fire in my hands. Marriages were healed. Babies were healed. A youth group was formed. Oh the power and the beauty and the blessings that poured out. Wow, what a lesson.
Oh Father God, let this same Spirit be poured out on those reading this message. We come to you in humble trust, hungry for dynamic encounters with you. We want to love and shed unlove. We are your beloved, blessed and broken. We long for more of your spirit, and yearn to hear your voice. Remove the dividing walls, the stone cold barriers. Help us to recognize and deal with the things that block the love force of your Spirit. Help us to repent, forgive, and then watch your Spirit move like it did that day in Derry. Thank you Lord. Amen.
To love and shed unlove. To shed: to remove something unwanted. To let go of the things that are not love. Knowing we are so deeply loved, we can do this.
It’s a safe place, with Jesus. In his generous love-light we can see our need and recognize the barriers. In his gracious love-light we can make big changes. He has much to teach us, and works with us right where we are. We can right now make fresh choices.
He wants to talk with you and me more than we want to listen. God is love, and God yearns to communicate with us, one on one. In the silence before the Lord, you might even hear him say something like this: ‘Peace, my child. I forgive you and I pour forth my mercy and grace to help you change. You are just learning and there is more I want to teach you. I love you and I am proud of you for coming to me. I will help you sort things out. I will help you to love and to shed unlove. As you come to me, little and humble, and let me wash you clean, I will restore you. People hide when they feel guilty. Standing in the light with me, they can admit the guilt and begin to change. As you let me be your strength, little by little you will become stronger. I am here to be for you what you need me to be. You don’t need to be afraid. I love you so much.’
We are ready to learn, aren’t we? (Say yes!) Here, safe in the arms of perfect Love, we can receive empowerment to repent and forgive. Here, then, we can watch the Spirit move! It can all start right now. Say “Jesus, please soak me in your love and remove all the unlove. I want that ball of fire that Linda experienced in North Ireland manifested through me for your glory!”
Reflect on what Paul says in Ephesians 2:4-8: “God is rich in mercy; because of His great love for us he brought us to life with Christ when we were dead in sin. By this favor you were saved. Both with and in Christ Jesus he raised us up and gave us a place in the heavens that in the ages to come he might display the great wealth of his favor, manifested by his kindness to us in Christ Jesus.”
Oh Lord, thank you for this favor. It’s time to believe you!
Closing prayer: Father, thank you for your kindness. Your Holy Spirit is now beginning to move in my life. Your perfect love is dissolving my fear. Thank you for dealing with the unrepentance and unforgiveness that was holding me back. Thank you for the grace to accept the fullness of your love and extend that love generously. Thank you for bringing to my mind any offenses. (Stop and listen.) Thank you for showing me those I need to forgive. (Stop and listen.) Thank you for the grace to see and be sorry for the ways I block the flow of your love. I won’t bury it or hide it any more.
Thank you, Lord, for my clean heart. In my deepening friendship with You, repentance and forgiveness will be a normal way of life. I won’t handle things the same way I did yesterday. I will change and grow. As a person becoming healed I will keep my heart soft and open with deep repentance, deep self forgiveness and forgiving others.
Thank you for showing me the way to go, and helping me to live a good life. I know I am not alone. You are home to me. You are Love and you love me without condition. In coming to know you, I come to know myself. Thank you for wanting me, receiving me, washing me and enabling me to come to you. Thank you for loving me until I overflow with love. Amen.
Closing thoughts–If these issues seem important to you, consider forming a little study group with a few friends and discuss and pray through some of these points:
Steps of repentance
1. Recognize that you failed
2. Be sorry/confess sin
3. Decide to not do it again
4. Ask for and receive forgiveness
5. Pray for God to work repentance in us
6. Ask him to continue to bring things to mind
7. Ask him to train our hearts to stay in his presence
(If you are Catholic, receive the Sacrament of Reconciliation. Soon.)
Benefit of repentance:
• Obstacles removed that keep us from abiding in Christ
• Hearts begin to hear the truth of God’s word
• Freedom from condemnation
• Joy of pure conscience
• Great personal growth
• Single hearted love and devotion to God will increase
• Life changing
• More Christ centered
• Thinking changed
• Mind cleansed
• A change of mind about sin and God before doing something wrong
• Quit thinking bad thoughts
• Easier to think of things that are true (Phil 4:8)
• Whatsoever is pure, lovely, admirable, etc.
• What else?
Then steps of forgiveness
1. Recognize the offense. Look at it and feel it.
2. Surrender the hurt to Jesus as a love offering.
3. Choose to forgive.
4. Ask Jesus to forgive them.
5. Ask Jesus to not bring up the offense again.
6. Compassion for the one who hurt you.
7. Receive healing for your vulnerability.
8. Go the extra mile. Bless those who hurt you.
9. Gratitude for the work accomplished and the work still in process.
(My books Miracle Hour, True Confessions and Miracle Moments will help in these areas too.)
Linda Schubert www.lindaschubert.org