Hi, I am Jennifer Mallan and I am the pastor of Reliant Family Church in Tampa, Florida. Welcome to God Today. Most of you watching have a forgiveness story. Whether you have been the recipient of forgiveness, whether you have had to extend forgiveness, or whether you have had to do both often.
I want to tell you about one of my forgiveness stories today, in hopes that it will encourage you. When my baby sister was 18 years old, she was driving on an interstate in Tampa, going to her friend’s house to spend the night. At the same time, a young man a year older than her, she was 18 and he was 19, got on an exit ramp going the wrong way. And came face to face and collided with her. He lived with only a seatbelt bruise. She died and was horribly dismembered and disfigured. It was very traumatic.
At the time, my parents were on a cruise and neither of my sisters was able to muster up going to the scene. My husband was filming on GOD TV in Europe, and so I was the one who went to the scene. In the weeks to come, that young man who was extremely intoxicated, came to my office against the advice of his attorneys to apologize and to ask for forgiveness.
Now, I thought I was a great, big, strong Christian. I mean I knew 70 times 7 and one day. I knew about the boss that forgave his employee a hundred million dollars and then that same employee went and wanted to assault someone who owed him $10. I understood all the stories, I preached them, about forgiving the $10 sin, the $100 million dollar sin, all of those things. And yet, when I had to come face to face with my sister’s killer I began to shake. I began to cry. I began to have chest palpitations. And I just didn’t think I could face him. I was an associate pastor, I had been working in the ministry for 15 years and I remember going in that office, knowing he and his father were downstairs. And I began to weep and cry. I said, “God, I want to forgive him. I want to have mercy. I want to have compassion. But right now I can’t.” And the Holy Spirit very clearly said to me, “You can forgive him now. Or you can forgive him later. But you have to forgive him.”
At that moment, I felt something awaken and rise up in me. And I said, “Lord if you will help me, I would rather forgive him right now. I don’t want to walk through months and years with resentment, anger, bitterness. I don’t want to have a chip on my shoulder. I don’t want to dream about this, be angry about this, blame, diagnose, replay. So, if you will give me the grace, I would like to forgive him right now.” And I can not take any credit for it whatsoever, but the power of the resurrection, Jesus Christ rose up in me. I was able to walk into that room and have two people with me and face that young man who apologized and asked for forgiveness. Because of that decision of coupling with the power of God to forgive, I and that young man named John were able to begin speaking in public schools. We were able to talk to thousands upon thousands of young people about the effects of drinking and driving.
We were able to go before a judge and ask for extreme leniency for him. He was sentenced to speak for a thousand hours. His sentence was reduced. His family was healed and restored. They came to the saving knowledge of Jesus Christ. He has now gone on to open a drug and alcohol rehabilitation center. He has dedicated his life to helping people get free from addiction. Free from generational curses and struggles. He has been on Oprah Winfrey, he is a consultant with Mothers Against Drunk Driving. He has worked in all kinds of venues to help set the captive free. To bring hope and healing.
Now looking back 13 or 14 years, I often wonder, “What would have happened if I had not been able to tap into the power of the Trinity, the power of Jesus? And forgive?”
Listen, I don’t know what you are struggling with today. I don’t know if it is an ex-spouse. I don’t know if it is a child that said horrible things to you. I don’t know if it is a doctor that gave you the wrong diagnosis. I don’t know if it is a pastor that has hurt you deeply. I don’t know if it is a betrayal. I don’t know if someone ripped you off financially. But what I know is that forgiveness is there. It is in the Bible, “to whom much is given, much is required.” We have been forgiven so much. Jesus paid a price that we can never pay. He said from the cross, “Father, forgive them. For they know not what they do.”
I am asking you to ask the Holy Spirit to help you let it go. Forgive, release, get back into fellowship with the Lord today. Father, thank you. Thank you, God, that you are turning just the spotlight of heaven on their hearts. God, you are reminding them of that trauma, that betrayal, that wounding, that hurt. That thing that seems to get bigger and bigger. Father, I thank you right now, as they are asking you to help them the way I asked you to help me that day, you are empowering them and equipping them in Jesus’ name, to be able to forgive. To be able to lay it at the feet of Jesus. Thank you, God, for your peace, for your shalom, for your nothing missing, nothing broken, for your restoration. Thank you for becoming a part of their forgiveness story.