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God Is... Forgiving

By Jay Cookingham (Soulfari)

The deepest part of the ocean at 36,200 feet (11,033 m or 11.03 km) is an alien looking place called Challenger Deep, within the Marianas Trench. This cold, deep dark is far beyond the reach of sunlight and is as remote of a place as you can find on this planet.

Imagine for a moment a place so far away, so unreachable and unseen that it boggles the mind.

It made me wonder what would our lives be like if our mistakes, failures…the things that haunt us from our past got tossed away. You know, those past events that hinder our walk, regret, painful memories…what would it be like if they were buried so deep, NEVER to be found again?

“Who is a God like You, pardoning iniquity and passing over the transgression of the remnant of His heritage? He does not retain His anger forever, because He delights in mercy. He will again have compassion on us, and will subdue our iniquities. You will cast all our sins into the depths of the sea.” (Micah 7:18-19)

The prophet Micah uses this powerful word picture in describing the depths of God’s forgiveness. Here displayed is the Father’s mercy, for when He forgives, not only does He subdues; but also He conquers our sins and hurls it far way from us. In the depth of that forgiveness is freedom, not just from sin but the effects of sin as well.

The forgiving nature of God releases us to do the same; free people can forgive…freely! The power to release; and the power to forgive are disciplines we can master and exercise in our lives. I believe they mirror each other and work together. To release means to: Let go of…to set free from confinement, restraint or bondage. It’s a deliverance or liberation from something. Isn’t that a powerful word?

“And forgive us our debts, as we also have forgiven our debtors.” (Matthew 6:12)

The Lord’s Prayer teaches us some awesome releasing techniques. The Greek word Jesus uses here for “forgive” means to…Let go or to send off. Remember what the definition of the word release was…see the connection? We have to let go; we need to release to be free. Jesus is saying that when we pray we must include a discipline of forgiveness that releases our claim against people or situations that have hurt us. Jesus showed us the way; he forgave without someone formally asking Him for it…on the cross. Father, forgive them…is the most powerful example of that type of releasing.

“And be kind to one another, tenderhearted, forgiving one another, even as God for Christ's sake has forgiven you.” (Ephesians 4:32)

The Greek word for forgiving here means several things, one of them is priceless… it’s the word rescue. With forgiveness we can rescue each other… from the bondage, the things that seek to hinder our walk and keep us from freedom in Christ.

Forgiveness is a choice and a matter of trust.  Will I trust God with my pain because releasing mean you have no control where it goes. How He chooses you to walk out forgiveness. The choice to release forgiveness frees us.

I grew up in an abusive home, from the years 8 to 17 I endure brutal treatment at the hands of my father. In the middle of this abuse I made a choice, I tried to bury my pain in drugs and drinking… I hated my father and dealt with it by running from God and desperately trying to dull my hurt. I was in a prison of shame and bitterness and it was killing me. Through a series of events I came to my senses and returned to Christ, stopped drinking and doing drugs but I still wasn’t free.

The path to freedom for me was forgiveness; I had to forgive my father. To stop being a victim I needed to forgive him, it matter not that he deserved forgiveness or didn’t deserve it. What mattered to God was my freedom and healing. While it does take two to reconcile…forgiveness only takes one. It takes a choice, a decision to release, to let go and accept freedom.  Forgiveness is not pretending something bad didn’t happen, forgiveness is dealing with the issues with the life changing love of God. God’s love sets us free and because of that we can (with His help) experience even more freedom as we forgive.

When I forgave my dad I was saying to the enemy that I choose to be like my Heavenly Father. Let’s forgive like the Father and be free…the enemy is afraid of free people who are releasers like their Father.

“I can forgive, but I cannot forget, is only another way of saying, I will not forgive. Forgiveness ought to be like a cancelled note--torn in two, and burned up, so that it never can be shown against one.” - Henry Ward Beecher

I was born and raised in Poughkeepsie, New York, just about 80 miles north of the Big Apple. My family and I live in Hyde Park, New York, the former home of Franklin Roosevelt, but I didn't let that stop us from living there. Seriously, it's a real nice town, rich with history. My wife Christine and I have been happily married for 28 years and have seven (yes seven) children, five boys and two girls. I am passionate about my relationships, with God and my family, they are the fuel for my creativity and the drive to finish strong.

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Reader Comments (8)

jay, thanks for sharing part of your story with us. really, means a lot!

i am grateful for forgiveness as well. when it's personal, it means so much.

May 2, 2011 | Unregistered Commenterdustin

God's forgiveness and mercy is incomparable... and I am an awesome recipient of it, Praise God!

Through His forgiveness of me, I have learned to forgive... Knowing what I have done, the harm I have caused, and His graceful and merciful forgiveness, I cannot help but forgive others.

Sometimes it is harder than others. But in the end, I recognize that dwelling in un-forgiveness does more to hurt me than it does the other person.

May 2, 2011 | Unregistered CommenterDusty Rayburn


Thanks bro'. Our stories matter to God and He uses them to bless and encourage others.

May 2, 2011 | Unregistered CommenterJay Cookingham

Unforgiveness is a huge prison to try to escape from...praise God we can with His help! Thanks Dusty!

May 2, 2011 | Unregistered CommenterJay Cookingham

The problem with forgiveness is the misconception that we are setting the person who wronged us free. More often than not they are unbound by our bitterness and hate. In fact we are the ones trapped by our own unforgiveness.

In letting an offense go we feel that we have allowed further injustice against ourselves, but if we can really forgive, what we find is that we are breaking that hold they still have over us.

This process is painful, long, and nearly impossible on our own, which is why His grace will carry us through even this.

May 2, 2011 | Unregistered CommenterNick the Geek

I think this is one of the best post I've read this week, Jay. :)

I'm trying to sit here and process the thought of putting my past 36000 feet down into the ocean of "No Remembrance."

What a beautiful concept, and I'm so thankful that His plan makes it possible. ;)


May 2, 2011 | Unregistered CommenterDuane Scott

Nick, that is soooo true. I have talked to many people who refuse to forgive, thinking that it frees the person that hurt them from responsibly. Oh what freedom we receive when we forgive.

May 2, 2011 | Unregistered CommenterJay Cookingham

This is excellent, Jay. It's not worth holding onto when we've been forgiven so much. Your story is such a powerful one. Thanks!

May 2, 2011 | Unregistered CommenterjasonS

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