John 16 New International Reader’s Version (NIRV)

16 “I have told you all of this so that you will not go down the wrong path. You will be thrown out of the synagogue (church). In fact, a time is coming when those who kill you will think they are doing God a favor. They will do things like that because they do not know the Father or me.“Why have I told you this? So that when the time comes, you will remember that I warned you.”

Dear Friend,

I know it’s been awhile.  Quite awhile. But I thought of you today. I try not to think of you, so that I can go on with life, but memories of you slipped in.  I wonder if you ever think of me.  Would it surprise you if I said, that I really wish we could sit down over coffee and talk? I couldn’t have said that until lately- I’m human, and I needed time.  Somehow I do not think we will get that chance in this life to have closure, to talk frankly. My attempts at the time were not received. But if we had the chance to talk, there are a few things I would want you to know.

A. I really cared about you. I think that is what made everything so difficult.  If I hadn’t cared so much, and respected you so much, I could have gone along my merry way without a thought.  But one of my personal flaws is that I am a bit naive, and loyal to a fault.  I thought the world of you and never imagined you felt any different. When I found out the things you had done, it wrecked me- each lie, gossip or manipulation felt like a separate knife wound.  And I felt REALLY behind, like the only one who didn’t know.  I was doing well and determined for the long haul, until I found out that YOU were the one trying to hurt me. Then all the wind went out of me, and a part of me just gave up.  I didn’t want to keep fighting, I didn’t want to WIN anymore, because there wasn’t anything left to win.  As Jesus and David put it in Psalm 55,

12 If an enemy were insulting me,
    I could endure it;
if a foe were rising against me,
    I could hide.
13 But it is you, a man like myself,
    my companion, my close friend,
14 with whom I once enjoyed sweet fellowship
    at the house of God,
as we walked about
    among the worshipers.”

B. I was laying in bed one night, agonizing to God about you doing what you did and then going away….and I realized…we are never more like Jesus than when we are betrayed, or mistreated and love anyway. And He DID warn us, many many times in Scripture that these things WOULD happen to us. “A servant is not above his master….” And the enemy loves to cause division and heartache like this in order to damage ministers and damage churches and destroy good people. And most of the time the enemy is efficient and successful at what he does. We are never more like the devil than when we lie, tear others apart, scheme, push for power and try to divide. I don’t want to become more like the enemy.  I want to continue this journey about being more and more like Jesus. Ministers don’t quit ministry because they get sick of preaching. They quit because of junk like this- because their heart broke one too many times.

C. Forgiving you does not mean agreeing that anything you did was in any way right or ok. You will never know the hurt or loss you caused.  I do not think you will understand the tears, the nightmares, the sleepless nights….the difficult time trusting new friends.  Forgiveness does not mean declaring that everyone someone did is ok.  Forgiveness is saying “I’m leaving this with God, and you don’t owe me anything anymore.” I think of totally forgiving someone as finally being able to sit and have coffee with them (without throwing the coffee) lol.

D. I do choose to forgive you. Completely. I’m not perfect either.  And without the grace and never ending love of God, I’d have no hope.  I know that if I won’t forgive you, He cannot forgive me, and I am DAILY in need of His grace.  And probably sometime soon, I’ll need someone to forgive me too.

E. I have not let this end God’s work in my life. When God called me into ministry at the age of 8, He did not turn around and ask your permission. And His gifts and calling are irrevocable.  He who has begun a good work in me -and you- will be faithful to complete it. As Joseph said,

20 As for you, you meant evil against me, but God meant it for good, to bring it about that many people[a] should be kept alive, as they are today. Gen 50:20

God is the One in charge of my life (and yours). I believe now more than ever, that he doesn’t allow what He cannot redeem. God has used every chapter of my life, the good and the bad, to further His story. These past several years have been amazing- a new book out that is doing well, ministry growth, and a lot of travel. On my kid’s missions trip to Africa, I had climbed a mountain with our translator on our way to home visits.  I was so overwhelmed by the beauty all around me, and the realization of all God was doing there on a daily basis.  And then….I realized that if it hadn’t been for you, none of this would be happening. I would have stayed right where I was, on a different path, “safe”.  God had used the hurt, the loss to fuel a much more important cause- HIS.  And I laughed.  Then I shouted your name from the top of that mountain “Thank you!!” I think the translator thought I lost my mind. 🙂  God used you in a big way, and for that, I am grateful.

I am so happy to hear that God is using you in ministry- and I pray that God continues to use you for His purposes and His glory. Because it’s about Him and His work here on earth. And we cannot let personal “junk” get in the way of that. I pray you go and do great things for God.

And finally-  Although I never wanted you to miss out on heaven, I definitely wanted you to have your own “solitary confinement” section of heaven so I never had to look at you again. I am sorry that I felt that way at one point. But now I know we’ll be sitting together at His table someday very soon, both saved by grace. And I will love you then too.

And I’ll even pass you the salt. love always, Trisha