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Posts Tagged ‘Forgiveness’

Staff Sgt. Jacob DeShazer, a member of the famed Doolittle Raiders, was the bombardier of Crew No.16, the last of the 16 B-25 Mitchell bombers to launch from the USS Hornet April 18, 1942, on the famous bombing run over Tokyo. Sergeant DeShazer, 95, died March 15. (U.S. Air Force photo)

Jake DeShazer sat on a narrow bench facing the back wall of his cell, a position he was forced to keep hour after hour, day after day, as his imprisonment dragged on.

The year was 1945. DeShazer had been a prisoner of war in Japan for forty long months, enduring suffocating heat in summer, bitter cold in winter, solitary confinement, near-starvation, cruel treatment, and torture.

As he sat, perhaps Jake thought of his comrades among the eighty flyers of Dolittle’s Raiders, the bombing run over Japan that helped turn the tide of the war in favor of the Allies in 1942.

DeShazerTakeOffFinal_md

But DeShazer’s plane was among those shot down, its crew members captured. How many of the original eighty had survived? Jake had no way of knowing, except for the few in his own cell block.

During those long, solitary hours, perhaps Jake reviewed the encouragements from scripture he had learned and the verses he’d memorized when–for three short weeks–he was allowed to have a Bible. What a change had taken place in his heart.

Prior to his captivity, Jake had no interest in Christianity. But the cruel treatment from his captors month after month nearly drove him crazy. Hatred consumed him. He remembered that Christianity supposedly changed hatred into brotherly love. Was that really possible?

He had begged for that Bible, but it was a long time coming. When the emperor of Japan told prison guards to treat their captives better, DeShazer’s request was finally honored. And as a result of studying the scriptures, he put his faith in Jesus. Bitter hatred for the Japanese transformed into loving pity.

As Jake’s thoughts focused on his captors, he may have prayed again the words from scripture that first melted his heart: “Father, forgive them, for they know not what they do” (Luke 23:34). Perhaps DeShazer reaffirmed what God’s Spirit had revealed to him earlier: His captors knew nothing of a Savior.  Without Jesus it was only natural for them to be cruel.

And so, as he lifted up loved ones and fellow soldiers, as he expressed his longing for the war to end, Jake also prayed for his captors to know Christ.

Suddenly he heard the stomping of boots, the hum of multiple voices in the corridor, men crying, and the clanging of prison doors. Then he was able to make out words—in English! “The war is over!” “We’ve come to take you home!”

Within moments his own cell door was swung open by soldiers in American uniform, paratroopers who had landed directly on the prison compound.

The date: August 20, 1945 (seventy-one years ago this Saturday). Unbeknownst to the captives, the emperor of Japan had surrendered on August 10, following the atomic bombings of Hiroshima and Nagasaki.

The horror was finally over; DeShazer and thousands of other soldiers returned home to pick up the pieces of their lives.

Jake chose to pursue a degree at Seattle Pacific University, which he accomplished in three years. By December of 1948, he and his wife, Florence, along with their first baby, were headed for the mission field, to—of all places—Japan.

Every time DeShazer met someone in his new home country and told his story, almost always the person would ask, “Why did you come back here?” And he would introduce them to Jesus.

DeShazer-with-kids-1952

(DeShazer with Japanese children, 1952)

It is estimated that some 30,000 people accepted Christ into their lives—just in the first year of Jake’s ministry in Japan. Among them, a number of former prison guards who had held Jake and his comrades captive.

Another surprising convert: Mitsuo Fuchida, the pilot who led the attack on Pearl Harbor. He “happened” to read a pamphlet Jake had written, “I Was A Prisoner of Japan.” Fuchida began to study the Bible, became a Christian, and served as a missionary himself in Asia. He and Jake eventually met and became friends.

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(DeShazer and Fuchida)

For nearly thirty years the DeShazers served God in Japan, helping to found sixteen churches throughout the country.

Someone has said:

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(“Forgiveness does not change the past,

but it does change the future.”)

DeShazer’s story proves just how mind-boggling and miraculous that future can be.

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Thank you, Father, for DeShazer’s story, proving it is possible to love our enemies, bless those who curse us, do good to those who hate us, and pray for those who persecute us (Matthew 5:44). By comparison to DeShazer’s horrific experiences, my hurts and resentments are embarrassingly puny. Yet I still need your Spirit to transform them into compassion and love. As a starting point, may I never lose sight of the totally underserved forgiveness you have lavished upon me.

You can access more of Jacob DeShazer’s story at:

(Art & photo credits:  www.verterantributes.org; http://www.worldevangelism.net; http://www.spu.edu; http://www.jacobdeshazer.com; http://www.pinterest.com.)

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Game-Logo-Fatty-iOS-Android

  “Hi there, Fatty!” he called out. AGAIN. For several weeks this had been his standard greeting.

My husband’s boss evidently thought Fatty was a cute nickname for a very pregnant Mama—me. On the outside I smiled; on the inside I seethed:

This man is the most insensitive lout I have ever known. How can he think such a comment is appropriate? I am sick and tired of his teasing. Add to that his lack of tact, the lies he’s told us, his sneakiness behind the scenes and just general annoyance, it’s a wonder I don’t hit him in the head!

I wish my negativity had ended there. That little tirade is bad enough. But all too often during that trying period years ago, my thoughts went round and round in a cesspool of bitterness and anger.

Then our Bible study group began a study of First John. Chapter two, verses nine through eleven shouted off the page:

“Anyone who claims to be in the light

but hates his brother

is still in the darkness.

Whoever loves his brother

lives in the light

and there is nothing in him

to make him stumble.

But whoever hates his brother

is in the darkness

and walks around in the darkness;

he does not know where he is going

because the darkness has blinded him.”

(1 John 2:9-11)

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 Guilt washed over me.

Oh, Lord, help me to love Jim*. I don’t want to live in this dark cesspool anymore. I know it’s wrong, but every time he says or does something irritating, my mind and spirit get all churned up again. You’ve probably noticed I’ve even been daydreaming about telling him off. How can I ever learn to love a man like Jim?

Part of my problem was a profound misunderstanding of what love is. I thought it was warm and fuzzy feelings toward another person. And try as I might, or as much as I prayed, no tender affection welled up inside me for Jim. It wasn’t until years later I learned:

love-is-action

Love is not a feeling; it’s an action.

When another Bible teacher brought these facts to my attention, I immediately thought of Jim. Had I treated Jim in loving ways, even though there were no warm and fuzzy feelings in sight? For the most part, yes. I was able to smile, be civil,  even wrap my arm around his back when he gave me a hug. I never did tell him off.

Over the years Steve and I have dealt with more challenging folks. No surprise there. Planet Earth is still our home.   I wish I could say their annoyances have rarely wormed their way under my skin, and I kept myself out of the cesspool of negativity. Alas, no.

But the good work God began in me when Jim came into our lives, he has been carrying out ever since (Philippians 1:6). God has taught me, and continues to teach that:

  1. I cannot control the actions of another; it is my reactions I need to control.   I must set aside anger, resentment, and rehashing.   I need to forgive, whether the other person asks for it or not.

 Forgiveness isn’t about letting the other person off the hook.

It’s about keeping the hooks of bitterness from getting into you.

–Unknown

  1. Sometimes, forgiveness is an act of the will, not an act of the heart. When we find ourselves circling the edge of the cesspool, we can make a willful turnabout to focus on God instead.

The key to forgiving others

is to quit focusing on what others have done to you

and start focusing on what God has done for you.

–Unknown

  1. To foster a forgiving heart: pray for the offender.

“I do not believe you can hate a man

for whom you habitually pray.

–Charles Spurgeon

 And just how do we pray for people like Jim?

  • Pray for understanding. There may be psychological or spiritual problems at the root of a person’s offenses. The person may be oblivious to the harm he is causing.
  • Ask for God’s blessing upon this difficult person.
  • Pray for opportunities that allow us to show him God’s love. And,
  • Remember what God has done for us. I, for one, have offended God numerous times. Yet he has never stopped demonstrating his love for me. How small of me to focus on Jim’s shortcomings and faults, while ignoring my own.

Forgiveness is not easy. It stretches to the limit our capacity to love. But by the power of the Holy Spirit, we can take the necessary steps that will lead us there, because:

 2-peter_1819

“His divine power has given us

everything we need for a godly life…”

(2 Peter 1:3)

…including love and forgiveness.

*(The name has been changed.)

 

(Photo & art credits:  www.invisioncommunity.co.uk; http://www.pinterest.com; http://www.reaganramm.com; http://www.schenphoto.wordpress.com)                

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On Monday I introduced you to six bloggers I follow—out of the 200-plus million blogs on the internet.  Today I’d like you to meet the other seven of my baker’s dozen.  (This post grew a bit long; you may wish to break it up and read it over several days.)

My PhotoThree Way Light (www.threewaylight.blogspot.com) is hosted by Jody Collins, a teacher of the Seattle, WA area.  She often accompanies her rich text with equally rich images of her own photography.

On Monday, Jody wrote:  “I am weak and broken and needy and healed and failing and falling and healed and over and over it goes. Jesus continues to peel off the layers of my shell of protection so He can get to the parts of me that need His touch.”

Did that last line speak to you as it did me?  Jody never fails to give me food for thought and sustenance for my spirit.

A Devoted Life (www.boyslumber.wordpress.com) offers “Practical Daily Devotions for the Real World” from JD Blom—Familyhusband, father, pastor, and athlete.

Recently JD used mountain-climbing as a visual image of the Christian life.  We’re created to climb, he said, to take on the challenge for the glory of God.  Jesus makes ascension possible.  However, Jesus did not come to…

…remove the difficulty of the route.
…eliminate the hurdles.
…chisel an escalator into impenetrable holiness.
…lower the glory of God down to the realm of man.
…diminish the elevation of righteousness for the unrighteous.

“Jesus came to create supernatural climbers.  We are new creatures in Christ.  IN Christ, we are supernatural climbing freaks.”

I like that image of supernatural climbing freaks–passionate, persevering, focused freaks.  YEAH!

Redemption’s Beauty (www.redemptionsbeauty.com) has blossomed from a child of divorce and alcoholism.  God redeemed Shelly Miller, and she is now a clergy wife raising two teens.

Two of Shelly’s outstanding attributes are honesty and humility, strongly apparent on October 11th, when she wrote:

”I’ve turned joyfulness into legalism, allowing it only in instances of the extraordinary and the accolades of good fortune. I don’t fit into the rules I create for it. I’m not extraordinary enough to be the object of attention, someone’s artistic gift.

Which I know in my head, isn’t the truth.”

A bit later she quoted Brene Brown, from The Gifts of Imperfection:

“Joy isn’t an unreachable standard, a goal attached to a list of rules to follow. Jesus chose us, not because of our extraordinariness, but because His extraordinary life lives in us.”

See?  From the pedestal of her vulnerability, Shelly shares heart-touching wisdom.  It happens often.

Strength Renewed  (www.strenthrenewed.wordpress.com) is not only the title of Tresa Walker’s blog, but states the objective as well:  that her thoughts might renew our strength for the circumstances we face.

One afternoon, this teacher/writer, and mother of two grown children, suddenly remembered she needed cupcakes for a gathering—in two hours.  No quick trip to the store would solve the problem–the local grocery was closed.  And no cake mixes sat perched on the pantry shelves either.  If Tresa was going to keep her promise, the cupcakes would have to be made from scratch.

She began searching for the ingredients.  Shortening?  The can held precisely the ½ cup required.  Baking powder?  Just enough.  Eggs?  The exact number needed.

Tresa recognized a life-lesson in her experience.  God sometimes provides exactly what we need rather than what we want.

She says, “Maybe when it seems our needs aren’t being met, it’s because God is giving us the opportunity to trust Him to provide the things that we truly need.”

She has me thinking.

DSCF4687Wings of the Dawn (www.heidiviars.wordpress.com) includes poetry and prose by Heidi Viars.  She is gifted at both, as well as photography.

Recently she included breath-taking shots of sunbeams casting ethereal ribbons among tall trees.  She wrote about turning around during a walk recently and discovering sunbeams had been lighting up the road behind her.

Heidi’s insight:  “Even when we can’t see Him work, we can trust Him to do His work in and through us. Sometimes it’s not until later, when we get a chance to turn around, that He reveals to us that He has been the Light on our path all along.”

My heart responds, “Oh, yes, Heidi.  And surely such moments are glimpses of His ethereal glory– just like those sunbeams!

Horizons of the Possible (www.horizonsofthepossible.wordpress.com) is hosted by Russell Smith, pastor of the church where our older son and daughter-in-law attend.

On October 8th, he wrote on the topic “People Are Not Projects.”

“We see the powerful, the accomplished, the athletic, and the beautiful and we easily see glory about them,” Russell says.  “What about all the rest – the misfits, the oddballs and the awkward?  What about the weak and the needy and the not-quite-right?  Unfortunately, we tend to think of them as projects to be worked upon.  Or we see them as objects of charity who need our help, but have little to give us.”

Then Russell reminds us of Psalm 8:5.  “You made [human beings] a little lower than the heavenly beings and crowned him with glory and honor.”

Every person has great worth, because he/she bears the stamp of Creator God.  He values each one; we can do no less.

(in)courage (www.incourage.me) is a team effort, sponsored by Dayspring.  Twenty-eight women contribute one post per month.  Lisa Leonard recently wrote “Showing Myself a Little Kindness.”

Her car was dead, probably because she had left the lights on the night before.  After all, she had been exhausted.  But instead of treating herself with kindness and understanding (as she would if the situation had happened to a friend), Lisa berated herself and even called herself names!

While waiting for AAA, however, Lisa was treated to a glorious sunrise.  And she noted:

“…how imperfect life is, and how there is still beauty to be found. I am flawed and yet, I can show myself kindness. I make mistakes, but there is forgiveness.”

Lisa is right.  My spirit breathes in deep her statement:  “I can be kind and forgiving of myself.”  And with that realization comes peace.

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Thank you, Father, for inspiring these writers.  I delight in their giftedness and insights!  Thank you that day after day they minister life lessons and encouragement to me and many others.  Bless them, I pray, with your favor and protection, and with your joy and peace.  In the name of Jesus, Amen.    

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But those who hope in the Lord will renew their strength. They will soar on wings like eagles; they will run and not grow weary; they will walk and not be faint. Isaiah 40:31

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