If it is possible, as far as it depends on you, live at peace with everyone” Romans 12:18
Paul, my most favourite of disciples. The book of Romans is one of my favourite books of the bible too, and probably one of the most challenging. I love the humanity and humility of Paul. He is so human and yet all out for God. What a heart he had for Jesus.
When I think about where Paul came from, an enemy of Christians, a murderer, a persecutor, a hated man. The amazing transformation we witness as Paul meets Jesus on the road to Damascus, his blindness that leads him to Ananias who obeys God’s command and welcomes the man called Saul who he knew was the hater of Christians into his sanctuary, he puts his trust in God and feeds and looks after Saul. The trust that these two imparted could only have happened by the holy spirit in each of them. Both different people, both with different experiences of their lives up to that point but both essential in God’s plan for them both.
Despite the doubt and fear that must have been quite obvious to both of them, the blindness bestowed upon Paul was a multi layered purpose. In some ways Paul’s blindness gave Ananias reassurances of safety, no way was this blind man struck by God able to cause harm, on the other side, Saul was completely at Ananias mercy. God was the common denominator in this amazing experience that bought these two men together, both of them obeying the Lord.
Paul’s journey was tough, thwart with persecution, near death experiences, near starvation, fear, bound in chains, beaten, and he did a lot of jail time for his faith. Throughout this life he remembered the shame of who he’d been before as Saul, and I think he spent his life trying to make up for the wrongs he had done to God’s people.
When I look at my life I can see decades of hurt and anger that swallowed up my peace, being a prodigal daughter, I wasted so many years being consumed by pain, searching for peace in every single place other than the sweet love of Jesus. The only path to peace is through Jesus, just as his mercy and grace has given us freedom from our sins, by him dying on the cross, he conquered death so that we may live eternity with him In heaven. We have peace because of his spirit which lives in us.
I have often thought of forgiveness as impossible in the past. How do we forgive those who trespass against us when the hurt cuts so deeply it takes something from you. We can’t.. but God can. I started and continue to pray earnestly for a change of heart towards those who have damaged me, but lately I have started to be reminded of my own faults and hurts I’ve inflicted upon people, those who I have refused to forgive and its made me understand so much more about my humanity, my pride , and my hypocrisy, yet I know that God forgives me of it all. Who then am I to deny others the same that God has given me.
I know it may take a lifetime to truly forgive those who have and will hurt me, I may well have to forgive them a thousand times over but the heart is more open to the peace that our father gives us.
Paul’s verse is a testament to his humanity, he himself understood the human condition but he also understood the amazing power of God’s Holy Spirit that transformed his heart. When I’m struggling with forgiveness, it’s a gentle reminder that only a relationship with God through his son Jesus can give us the peace so many of us long for, the reality is that it is truly within our grasp.
A work in progress for me...I thank the Lord for the Holy spirit working in our hearts always to bear fruit and grow In our relationship with our father.