God in the Negative (Ney Bailey)Forgiveness Will Transform Your Relationships
Leslie Basham: Here’s Ney Bailey.
Ney Bailey: I believe when we’re hurt we need to ask ourselves the question, “Is my God bigger than my hurt, or is my hurt bigger than my God?” We’re the ones that get to choose.
Leslie: This is Revive Our Hearts with Nancy Leigh DeMoss for Friday, September 7.
Nancy Leigh DeMoss: What’s the most difficult relational issue that you’re facing? How are you responding to that situation? With complaining or bitterness, or with gracious words that speak life to the situation? Yesterday we heard part one of a message from Ney Bailey on speaking words of life, even in negative situations.
She gave us several moving examples of people who asked the Lord to transform their words. Their words changed, their hearts changed, and then their situations changed. If you missed part one of the message, I hope you’ll go back and listen at ReviveOurHearts.com.
Ney is a long-time Campus Crusade for Christ staff member. She’s authored a book titled, Faith Is Not a Feeling. She’s been a long-time, dear, personal friend that the Lord has used in my life in a special way. Now, here’s Ney with part two of the message, God in the Negative.
Ney: We reap what we sow. If we sow cursing, we’re going to reap cursing. If we sow blessing, we’ll sow blessing, and I’d rather reap blessing, wouldn’t you? We bring God into the negative by blessing and not cursing.
Then, the last way we bring God into the negative is by forgiving. I’d like first to look at Colossians 3:12–13.
And so as those who have been chosen of God, holy and beloved, put on a heart of compassion, kindness, humility, gentleness and patience and—[here it comes]—bearing with one another and forgiving each other, whoever has a complaint against anyone; just as the Lord forgave you, so also should you. (NASB)
Now, I like that, because the Lord acknowledges that we have complaints against each other, but He says, “Whoever has a complaint, just as the Lord forgave you, so also should you . . .” And it’s when we realize how much He has forgiven us, and receive that forgiveness, then we have some to offer to someone else.
We saw today, when we raised our hands, that all of us have been hurt. I think that the deepest hurts that we ever have come from our own families, or come from the people that are closest to us. I know one of the deepest hurts that I ever had was from my father.
My father was raised in a small town in north Louisiana. His father left his mother and kind of ran around and was unfaithful to her. My father’s mother died when he was about twelve, and he was put with an aunt and an uncle and a cousin. My father didn’t get very much, emotionally, as he grew up.
My mother, on the other hand, was raised on a farm out in Oklahoma, near Enid, near Cherokee, in a little town called Jet that probably most of you have never heard of—way out in the country. They did everything together recreationally, they did everything together in church, they did the chores, very were a close family, emotionally expressive . . .
My mother and father married. I was born into that family as the first child. At a very early age I computed their differences to mean, “My mother loves me, and my daddy doesn’t.” As I grew up in that household, I grew more bitter and more resentful as the days went by.
I didn’t like the way my father talked to my mother, I didn’t like the way he talked to me, I didn’t like it that he didn’t come to things that were important to me. It didn’t seem like he cared, and we just pretty much ignored each other. I remember talking to my mother and she would say, “Well, honey, I just can’t talk to your daddy.”
Well, if she couldn’t talk to him, I sure couldn’t talk to him. I would always talk to her to try to get her to talk to him, because I couldn’t do that. Have any of you ever had any of those situations? It was tough.
If you would have known me in high school or college, I would not have had one nice thing to say about my father. It is safe to say that I hated him. There was murder in my heart towards him. And I can remember, in his second drawer, behind some of his underwear, he kept a gun. I can remember going and picking that gun up and looking at it and wishing I could kill him.
There was murder in my heart toward him. My father had a drinking problem. I hated the sound of his opening that refrigerator door, and you’d hear the beer can hit the counter: “Pop . . . wshhhw.” And I would just leave; I’d go get in the car and go be with my friends.
I can remember one night when my mother was at the church and my father was drunk that he was furious. He said something about, “Your mother is at the blankety-blank-blank church,” and he gave this long string of things. And a little while later he came to me and said to me, “Where’s your mother?”
And I said back to him what he had just said. I said, “She’s at the blankety-blank-blank . . ." and he came after me and chased me around into the bedroom and hit me and knocked me across the room. I fell across the bed, and when I did, he slipped on a rug and fell and his arm came out of joint. He went into the bathroom and just moaned and groaned.
Pretty soon my mother came home and we took him to the hospital. We were in the hospital with him all night long. One of the reasons I remember this so vividly is because the next morning I had been asked by the dean of women at our college—I was a freshman at the time—to give a five-minute devotional-type thing for the Who’s Who chapel.
I can remember what an eerie sensation that was, to stand up there and give that little talk, and think, “No one knows what I’ve been through the night before. No one knows.”
Because my father had never seemed interested in me or anything I did, it never occurred to me to get his counsel about whether or not I should go on Campus Crusade staff or not. You hear a lot about that today, about getting the counsel of your parents, but it frankly did not cross my mind to get his counsel.
So I joined the staff of Crusade, had been on the staff a couple of years, and I heard someone talk about something I had never heard before. They said, “God is love,” and I’ve heard that before, but they went on to say, “If God is love, then 1 Corinthians 13 is how God loves you and how God loves me.”
And before that time, people had said to me, “Put your own name in there where it says ‘love’ . . . like, ‘Ney is patient, Ney is kind, Ney hopes all things, bears all things, endures all things . . .’” I would always fall short, and I didn’t like that. But what they were saying was that God’s love toward me was patient, God’s love towards me was kind, God’s love towards me would hope all things and endure all things and bear all things.
I’d never, ever thought of the fact that God had a 1 Corinthians 13 type of love for me. Then I began to think about my father as I left that meeting. I thought, “All these years I’ve been waiting for my father to shape up and stop drinking, and then I was going to love him.”
But it was as though God said to me, “Ney, you’ve got more light; you’ve got more grace. My love toward your father is kind, my love toward your father is patient. My love toward your father hopes all things and bears all things and endures all things. Ney, I want you to take the first step towards him.”
Tears began to stream down my face as I realized, even though I was in Christian work, I did not have God’s love for my very own father. It seemed like the Lord had done something new in my life, but I knew I wasn’t going to know until I was home, and I was in it.
A few months later, I went home with an attitude of acceptance and love. As I went in the house, I had this new attitude towards him of acceptance and love and forgiveness, guess what? He sensed my spirit, and as I was nice to him, he was nice back.
My father didn’t know much about how to love, but he knew how to respond a little bit to love. I thought, “If I had known it was going to make this much difference, I might have been nice a lot sooner.” And while I was home on that trip, I remember—my father was a lawyer—he went over to a dress shop of one of his clients. He brought home three dresses on approval for me to try on. He’d never done that before.
He went with me to the doctor and made sure that I had the right medicine. When I left home that time, I began to think about how the Lord says, “Honor your father and your mother, that it may go well with you and that you may live long on the earth” (see Deut. 5:16).
And I said, “Lord, You’re the One who thought up this thing about honoring, now will You show me how to do that?” The Lord began to give me ways that I could demonstrate love for them. And for the first time in my life, I thanked the Lord for my father and for my mother.
More time passed, and this is going to sound a little melodramatic, but this actually did happen. I was sitting one day, and I was just kind of staring into space. Do you ever do that, you just sort of stare into space? I began to think about my father, and I thought, “If my father were to die, and I were to go to his funeral and look out and see his casket, would I have any regrets?”
I thought, “Yes, I would regret that I had never asked him to forgive me for some of my ugly ways in my growing up years" So I purposed in my heart to go home and ask his forgiveness. Now he described himself as a “bull-headed lawyer,” so to think about talking to him was very scary.
When I imagined it in my mind, I imagined myself lying prostrate on the floor, sobbing my heart out, unable to utter a word. I was living in Dallas at the time. I went home, and it was football season. I knew enough not to talk during the ball game, so I waited until half-time.
My mother left the room, and I said, “Daddy, I’ve been thinking about my growing up years and how ungrateful and unloving and unkind I was. Will you forgive me?” And there was this pause, and he kind of turned and looked at me and he had a twinkle in his eye, and he said, “No.”
And he said, “I don’t remember all those things.” And then he named one, and I knew it was important to get a response from him, so I said, “Will you forgive me for the things you can remember?”
And he said, “Yes.” Right after that, he said, “Now, where are you going on your next trip?” He had never asked me that before, ever.
I remember I said, “Houston and Nacogdoches, Texas.”
And he said, “You know, you’re getting ready to drive back to Dallas, and there’s a cheeseburger from last night. Why don’t I warm up that for you?”
And I said, “Good idea.”
Now, no way did I want a cold, warmed-up cheeseburger—I think it was a Whopper burger—and he took it, lettuce, tomato, sack and all, and stuck it in the oven. And on the way out the door, he handed me this warmed-up sack, and he said, “When will I see you next?”
And I said, “December 21 or 22.”
He said, “I’ll see you on the twenty-first,” and he smiled. When I left, I began to think about the verses that are at the end of Malachi. It says, “The Lord will turn the hearts of the fathers towards their children, and the hearts of the children towards their fathers,” and that was what was happening to me (Mal. 4:6 KJV).
More time passed, and I moved to California, and one day in California where I live now, my mother called me, and she said, “Honey, your dad found something in a catalog, and it reminded him of you. He went out and he bought it and had it wrapped, and he sent it UPS all by himself. He’s sending you a surprise.”
And I said, “Mother, what is it? Tell me, tell me!”
“I’m not telling—it’s a surprise.”
I could not wait for that package to come. He had never done that before. When it finally came and I opened it, inside was a little Melita two-cup coffeemaker in a brown travel case.
He knew at that time I was drinking a lot of coffee, and he knew I was traveling a lot. I remember I held that in my hands, and I said, “Oh Lord, this represents a lot more than a Melita two-cup coffee maker. This represents a relationship that you have restored.”
More time passed, and several years ago I went home for Christmas, to Shreveport where my parents lived. My sister Brenda was there with her family from Illinois, my sister Kim with her family was there, my brother Ed. We had a wonderful time, left, went back to California.
On January 2, I received a telephone call that my father had become critically ill, and they didn’t expect him to live. They tried to prepare me for what it was like in the intensive care unit, when I went home, with all the tubes coming out of everywhere.
Some of you have been through that and may be going through that right now. I wasn’t prepared for what I saw. The way it worked was the family could go in ten minutes in the morning, ten minutes in the afternoon, ten minutes at night. My mother could go in and stay the whole ten minutes, but we four children had to line up out in the hall and we could go in for about two minutes.
When it was my turn to go in for the first time, they had told my father I was on my way to Atlanta. I don’t know why they did that; they didn’t want to scare him. They didn’t want him to think that I had come home just for him. I kind of wish now that they had told him that, but they said that I was on my way to Atlanta because they figured I’d be on my way to Atlanta someday.
My father was a real weather watcher, I mean, he loved to watch the weather and listen to the weather. And wouldn’t you know it, the weather was bad in Atlanta. So that’s what he was talking about, that the weather was bad in Atlanta. We talked about that for a minute or so, and I said, “Well Daddy, I probably better go now and let Brenda come in, she’s out in the hall waiting.” And I said, “I love you, Daddy.”
And he said, “I love you, too, honey. Whether you’re in here or whether you’re out in the hall waiting to come in.” And those were to be the very last words that he was ever to speak to me.
Several days later as I sat in that funeral home and I looked out and I saw that casket, I remembered. I remembered that when I didn’t feel like it, I chose with my will to put my mustard seed of faith over on the Lord’s side and choose with my will to forgive my father.
I believe when we’re hurt we need to ask ourselves the question, “Is my God bigger than my hurt or is my hurt bigger than my God?” We are the ones who get to choose. There are so many things, we could name hundreds of them, that are absolutely inexcusable, we know, but there is nothing that is unforgivable.
Someone has said “To forgive is to set the prisoner free only to discover that the prisoner was you.” And when we choose with our wills to forgive, what we do is we take that person off of our hook, but you know what, it is comforting to know we can leave them on God’s hook.
You can leave them on God’s hook, but you take them off your hook. I believe we are most like Christ when we are forgiving, we are not most like Christ when we’re perfect; we’re most like Christ when we’re forgiving.
My dad never asked me to forgive him, but God asked that of me, and it made all the difference. And I want to say this: Maybe you’re sitting there and you’re thinking, “Well Ney, what if the person I need to forgive has already died?” I have good news for you: God is not limited by time. He is the same yesterday, today, and forever, and I believe you can tell the Lord what you would have said, and He will honor that.
Another thing I want to say is that there are times when you have a piece of the puzzle in a difficult relationship or situation and you can’t put that puzzle together by yourself, and you need some help. There is a place for godly, biblical counseling.
I’m not talking about being irresponsible. We need to be responsible because love has limits. Another thing I want to say is that I do believe there is a place to bear one another’s burdens. Sometimes people say to me, “Well Ney, can I tell somebody what’s going on in my life?” Absolutely! Because you need to bear one another’s burdens so you can pray for one another, so you can be healed.
- Is there a negative in your life? We need to praise God and to thank Him.
- Are you cursing someone? You need to begin to bless them instead.
- Is there a deep, deep hurt? We need to forgive.
And by so doing, we bring God into the negative and we release His power to work.
Father, we thank You once again for making Your Word practical in our lives, and Father we know that we are helpless in and of ourselves to do anything about the situations that come to our minds. We come to You for salvation, with all of our helplessness and our neediness. For the rest of our lives we keep coming back, with all of these situations, in our helplessness, in our neediness.
And Father, we call upon You, in these situations which come to mind, to do in and through and for us what we cannot do for ourselves.
Ladies, as we close our time in prayer, if there is any situation that’s come to your mind where you want to choose with your will right now, to put your mustard seed of faith over on the Lord’s side, I’d invite you to do that right now, quietly, in your heart.
Father, I pray for each situation that is being lifted to You now, and will be lifted to You as there is time to reflect even later on. I pray You would go before each one, and You would make the crooked places straight. Father, I pray that You would do in each life exceedingly abundantly above all that they could ask or think, according to Your power that works within them. In Jesus’ name we pray, amen.
Nancy: That’s Ney Bailey, wrapping up a message called God in the Negative. I think you’ll agree that this has been a powerful reminder that we need to let the Lord bless others through us and through our words. When Ney was speaking about difficult, painful relationships, did one or more people come to your mind?
I know they did when I listened to this message, not long ago. So, have you forgiven and set free those who’ve wronged you? I meet so many women who are consumed by bitterness. In fact, I think that among women, bitterness in difficult relationships may be the number one hindrance to experiencing personal revival.
I was so burdened by this subject that I wrote a book called Choosing Forgiveness: Your Journey to Freedom. This book will help you to honestly identify those who have wronged you, and how they hurt you, but then you’ll discover the freedom that comes from choosing to forgive those who’ve sinned against you.
You’ll also discover the joy that comes from learning to bless those who may have treated you badly. I want you to be totally free from any bitterness or unforgiveness that may be in your heart. That’s why I’d like to send you a copy of my book called Choosing Forgiveness.
We’ll be glad to send it to you when you make a donation of any amount to the ministry of Revive Our Hearts. Just give us a call at 1-800-569-5959. Or you can visit us online at ReviveOurHearts.com. Let us know that you’d like to send a gift to help support this ministry, and then be sure and ask for your copy of Choosing Forgiveness.
Leslie: When you contribute to Revive Our Hearts, we’ll say “thanks” by sending you a copy of the book by Nancy Leigh DeMoss, Choosing Forgiveness. Your gift will help us continue on the air in your area.
Once Nancy asked one of her friends, “Do you think you intimidate your husband?” That question began a process of deep transformation as God intervened in a hopeless marriage. Hear the story next week on Revive Our Hearts.
Revive Our Hearts with Nancy Leigh DeMoss is an outreach of Life Action Ministries.Offers available only during the broadcast of the radio series.
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