It's hard not to harbor bitterness. It's so hard not to hang on to unforgiveness. It's so hard to offer the same kind of grace that we've received from God. But it is the only cure, the cure all. How do you let go and let God? How can you let go of the hurt?

Drive Thru…
How To Let It Go !!!
Week of March 21, 2010
Driving Thru Life with CCC Transformational Architect Jeff Dixon

Last weekend I was with one of my daughters in New York City. It was a big moment in her life and we appreciate your prayers. We will know whether she is moving to NYC in a few weeks. Sunday was the day of her interview and it found me wandering the big city, riding on subways, and seeing the sights. Went to church with a great group of people in a great time of worship although I missed being home at CCC. In my Sunday wandering about I came across a story I wanted to share. I found the story in New York but it emerges from a school house in Columbia, South Carolina.

First you have to have some historical perspective. Two years after the Civil War, with much of Columbia still in ruins, some of the bitterness over the North-South conflict was put aside by a single gesture: New York firefighters set out to collect pennies to buy Columbia a firetruck.

On February 17, 1865, a devastating blaze…had devoured over 36 blocks, or about one-third of the city. Columbia had lost most of its firefighting equipment during the Civil War and desperately used bucket brigades in their attempt to douse flames.

Not long after, New York City firemen, many of them former Union soldiers, raised $5,000—mostly in pennies—and put a hose-reel wagon on a steamship bound for Columbia, South Carolina. It was March of 1867. On the way, the ship sank, but instead of giving up, they took up another collection and sent a second hose-reel wagon in June of that same year.

So overwhelmed was former Confederate Colonel Samuel Melton that he made a promise on behalf of South Carolina’s capital city to return the kindness “should misfortune ever befall the Empire City.”

Now fast forward. Near Ground Zero I discovered that after 9/11, White Knoll, SC  principal Nancy Turner and her teachers were trying to find some tangible way their students could respond to the attacks. The children were too young to give blood, and no one liked the idea of simply sending money to an impersonal national fund. Eventually the decision was made to collect money to buy a fire truck.

Then Turner stumbled on records of New York’s long-ago gift while researching the cost and what type of truck to buy. It was easy to get city leaders and the state governor, Jim Hodges, to join in. Columbia’s fire chief was a New York native. The effort was renamed “South Carolina Remembers.” After 134 years, the day to remember came and the children of Columbia took it on themselves to honor that pledge.

They collected pennies at football games, held bake sales, and sold T-shirts in a drive to raise the $350,000 needed to replace one of the dozens of New York City firetrucks destroyed in the 9/11 attacks.

The idea began from a lesson in giving. Donations poured in. One donor wrote: “When I was growing up in Columbia, Mama always said you need to return a kindness. I know she’d be as glad as I am to be part of this wonderful thank-you gesture.”

In notes to the students, donors told personal stories connecting them with loved ones who died on 9/11, to firefighters, and in one case, to Confederate soldiers.

One donation came from Russell Siller of Rockville Centre, New York. Siller’s brother, Stephen, was part of the elite firefighter force Squad 1. He died that terrible day. Siller wrote: “At a time like this, when the whole nation is still mourning its loss, what a powerful and poetic message your efforts send to all of us. I am proud that New York’s bravest sent you a fire truck in your city’s time of need. … To think that you would honor a pledge made so many years ago! The new fire truck will become a symbol for your love for your country, and for New York’s bravest.”

Truly an amazing story. I encourage you to remember the birth of the story. It began years ago as a nation was attempting to heal, years of internal war, hurt, and heartache had literally ripped our nation at her seams. From the sea of bitterness an act of kindness began healing, which led to promise, which was fulfilled again in a nation’s time of deep hurt and need.

It’s hard not to harbor bitterness. It’s so hard not to hang on to unforgiveness. It’s so hard to offer the same kind of grace that we’ve received from God. But it is the only cure, the cure all. How do you let go and let God? How can you let go of the hurt? How can you be an agent of change that helps not only you but those around you?

Perhaps the formula is found in Job 42:10: “And the Lord restored the fortunes of Job, when he had prayed for his three friends.”

I hope you are familiar with the story of Job. Can you imagine how difficult it must have been for Job to forgive his friends. They added injury to insult as Job suffered tragedy after tragedy. He lost his family. He lost his wealth. He lost his health. And then his friends took away his dignity by attacking his integrity. He had lost everything else and now the little thing he had left they viciously went after. Some friends!

When someone wrongs me I have a tough choice to make. Either I try to get even or I have to begin praying for that person. I have wrestled through this at times and can share with you that I honestly believe that prayer is the only antidote to anger, bitterness, and unforgiveness.

You can’t just forgive. You’ve got to pray for that person. Why? Because it will change your heart. You’ll find that a love (that comes from God) for that person disarms your anger. Forgiveness will set you free. And prayer is the key.

If Job can pray for his fair-weather friends who turned on him in tragedy, then we can certainly love our enemies and pray for those who persecute us.

And the act of letting it go will change everything!!!

Now here is the question…what do you need to let go of today?
This is the best day to get started…let it go! Start Praying!

Have a great week!

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