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"Father, Forgive Them" (August 2022)

I was married and a young mother. I loved the Lord, faithfully attended church, read my Bible, and prayed. I experienced the many responsibilities as every mom does. I longed to take a break and just get away from everyday chores. Sure enough, a woman in our church approached me and offered to keep my baby so that I could go shopping or just do what I wanted to do. I knew this woman and she was well-known in our church. She was a faithful attender to the church. I spoke with Robert about it, and he agreed that this would be fine. I took the woman up on her offer. I had most of the day to do whatever that I wanted to do. It was just a welcomed break.

Robert picked up our baby who was nine months old from the woman’s house. (I will not call this child by name, but I will refer to the baby as him.) The baby was asleep, so I laid him in his bed. He woke up around 2:00 am. I jumped up to go check on him. I comforted him in the dark, and he went back to sleep. The morning came, and he was crying once again. I went to his bedside to change his diaper. I looked down on his little body and he was severely bruised from his waist to his knees. I almost fainted. I remember falling over the side of the baby bed weeping uncontrollably. My baby had been horribly whipped. I fell into the floor and began to cry out, “Oh, God, help me. I choose to forgive whoever did this to my child.” Did I feel like doing that? No! I immediately called his pediatrician for an appointment. I took pictures of his little body. The doctor examined him and took pictures himself to turn this over to the authorities.

I would find out that the woman allowed a man in the church to whip my baby because he said, “I had to beat out the spirit of rebellion.” My baby was only crying when this injustice was done. This man called that rebellion. We had the man put in jail. His pastor friend called me and told me that I was wrong to put a brother in jail. I was so angry. My flesh wanted to take a rifle and kill this child abuser and his friend. For several weeks, my baby would cry out in the night with fear and weep. I would later learn that this man was whipping some of the other babies that this woman was keeping. She allowed it.

I would forgive this man over and over. My flesh wanted to vindicate my child, but I knew that I must follow after the way of the Lord. Jesus didn’t tell me to forgive when I feel like it. He simply said in Matthew 6:14-15 Amp., “For if you forgive others their trespasses [their reckless and willful sins], your heavenly Father will also forgive you. But if you do not forgive others [nurturing your hurt and anger with the result that it interferes with your relationship with God], then your Father will not forgive your trespasses.” …But Charlotte, you had him put in jail. Is that forgiveness? You can forgive but that doesn’t mean that you do not deal with a crime. We were able to stop his evil in this woman’s home. Oh yes, he was released from jail on bail. This man would even come to me at church to shake hands with me. Talking about feelings of wanting to lash out, but I chose to walk in the Spirit.

I would see this man again years later. The old hurt and pain rose up again in me. Immediately, I said out loud, “Jesus, I forgive this man for what he did to my child.”

Jesus prayed in Luke 23:34 in the Passion Bible, While they were nailing Jesus to the cross, he prayed over and over, “Father, forgive them, for they don’t know what they’re doing.” I had never seen before that Jesus asked the Father to forgive him over and over. The centurion crushed him to the ground and tied his arms to the crossbeam, Jesus prayed, “Father, forgive them.” When the spikes tore through each quivering palm, he prayed again, “Father, forgive them.” When the soldier parted his garments and gambled for the seamless robe, again Jesus prayed, “Father, forgive them.” We don’t know how many times that Jesus cried out, “Father, forgive them.” You may have to cry out , “I forgive them, in Jesus’ name 70 times 70 in one day” (Mt. 18:22). That is 140 times in a day. Amen!!!

If you have not forgiven those who have hurt you or those you love, I plead with you to forgive. Forgiveness is an act of obedience; not a feeling. If you don’t forgive, your life is wide open to demons. Why? …Because if we don’t forgive, our Lord CAN’T forgive us of any of our sins.

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