Wednesday, January 28, 2009

Forgiveness and Satan

Today I got a phone call that I wasn’t expecting. Since my home phone is also my work phone, I answered, “Hello. This is Hillary.” The man on the phone asked if this was Hillary Hart and I said, “Yes”- since I am Southern and will always go by my maiden name, too. He went on to warn me in advance that this was going to be an awkward phone call.

He told me who he was and it was a person whose name I recognized from my home town, but I hadn’t thought or heard about in over a decade. He went on to tell me that he had become a Christian about 7 years ago and was still building his relationship with God. He had recently felt compelled to talk with some people he had wronged in his past and apologize. He said that for a while he had been in a dark place with alcohol and drugs and had done some stupid things.

When we were in high school, he had gotten wasted one night and decided to go break into some cars and steal some CDs. He was later arrested for possessing stolen property, but not for stealing it. He went down to the courthouse recently, though, and found my name as a person who had listed the stolen property and wanted to call to apologize.

As I slowly realized where I fit into this story, I was taken back to that time. We had just moved to our new house and I was a senior in high school. We lived in a great neighborhood- about a block away from my high school in the suburbs- and I had some CDs and a CD player stolen one night. Dad reported them missing to the police and they were returned to me in a few weeks. They had someone else’s initials written on them- and I can see them right now in my mind- but I had never known whose initials they were until today. When they were returned, I used nail polish remover to remove the offending initials and my CD case smelled like a nail shop for a while; that I distinctly remember. All the other details are a blur.

Immediately I felt empathetic for this grown man who was calling to apologize for a 14 year old sin. At one point in my life, I think I would have felt revengeful or fulfilled, but I felt a strong connection to him. The reason is because about 6 months ago I e-mailed some dear friends to apologize for something that I said to them in passing in our sorority house kitchen. They didn’t remember it at all, but my negative words had made a lasting impact on me and were defining how I viewed our relationship and my relationship with Christ. I had denigrated their Christian group and I was still feeling guilty for it. I had asked for forgiveness a dozen times and repented, but it was still nagging me. After I e-mailed those sweet, dear friends and talked with each of them, I realized that it wasn’t them, or God who hadn’t forgiven me. I was forgiven. But it was Satan who kept bringing it into my head that I wasn’t good enough to be a Child of God. Those thoughts of, “You did ___ before; how do you call yourself a Christian” would creep into the dark places and still can if I don’t stand guard against them. The truth is that we are always going to be sinners- no matter what the sin- and Jesus covered our sins long ago.

As I shared this story with my caller, I told him that my biggest revelation hadn’t been asking the other people for forgiveness (which DID help), but it was realizing that I wasn’t going to give Satan power over my past any longer. He had already had enough influence there when it happened and he wasn’t going to have any more. God’s forgiveness is bigger than Satan.

My caller was choking up on those words and he told me how grateful he was to have talked to me. We fumbled through a few more niceties, me joking about a Dave Matthews CD (I make jokes when I don’t know what else to say) and then got off the phone.

I truly feel like God knew that this person needed to talk to me today. Not that any glory needs to go to me- ALL to an awesome and loving God. But I think the man who was living with his past as a definition of himself made the same connection I did a few months ago. That God is more powerful than even the dirtiest and worst things that you have done. He can wipe your slate clean. He can give you a new definition: Child of the King.

17 comments:

Sherill said...

AMEN!!!

(and the preacher in me has to ask if I can use this story--sans names--some time ;-D )

Kellie said...

Wow! That's amazing - and your description of your neighborhood in the "burbs" takes me right back (since we lived in the same neighborhood and all). God can bring us so far from where we used to be, we just have to trust him and ACCEPT His love! Thanks for sharing. BTW, how are your parents doing?

Nick and Natalie said...

what an amazing story!!!! How cool that he was able to do that!!! God is good!!!!

Sarah said...

Great Post! I'm sure it was hard for him to call..and great for him to hear that from you!

I just tagged you for your 25 things....http://iblamemom.blogspot.com/2009/01/25-things.html

annieck said...

Awesome post, Hillary! Thank you for sharing this. :)

Lindsey said...

what an encouragment for me this morning. thanks so much for sharing. and thanks for praying for the triplets too!

Amy said...

That's really beautiful. Thank you for sharing and being so encouraging. Those are truths that I always need to be reminded of.

Hollie and Janie said...

That gave me chills! What an amazing story and thank you for sharing such a personal experience!

Bragans said...

What a great testament of the work Christ has done in us. Thanks for sharing the story. Great encouragement for me today!

Susannah said...

WOW! Powerful things going on in Huntsville! That made my day!;)

~k said...

Hill- that was awesome! I can so relate!!! Thanks for the encouragement!

Darby said...

Hillary... How awesome is that!? I love stories like that... thank you for sharing it with all of us!!

holly said...

how beautiful! i've got chills

LeAnne said...

thank you for sharing, hillary. what an amazing story!!

BASSakward Tales said...

and the choir stood up and said amen!!!

Trina said...

I think I found you thru the Stickler blog. I loved this post. I had my purse stolen almost 2 years ago and I would love to get a call from the thief that he had changed his life around. I know it was a male because we have him on camera using my card but we couldn't identify him. I was angry at first. But now I don't have any hatred or unforgiveness, but I just prayed that he would find the Lord somehow.

Melanie said...

Hillary, thanks for the post. I have wrestled with the demon of my mispent youth(aka the college years) for too long. Especially the you did _____ before and call yourself a Christian. Your post sums it up so well. Glad Fraggle told me about your blog. Have a Happy New Year!

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