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  • "A Musing Pastor"

Bitterness, the eternal prison.

Have you ever pulled the stove out of its place and looked at the floor underneath? What did you see? What treasures were discovered in the dust bunnies? Or has it been so long since you cleaned under the stove you don't want to consider pulling it out? The accumulation of stuff under there can be gross. Factor in all the times something may have boiled over on the burner and dripped down the side of the appliance. Remember that time the ketchup bottle slipped out of your hand and split open? How about the milk jug?

Personal bitterness is much like stuff under the stove. It has been gathering, boiling, dripping, growing, and gross. It remains underneath the surface of our personality. It seethes and simmers. It gets increasingly out of control. It threatens everything we say, we touch, and we attempt. Much like the stove, we need an intervention and good cleaning. Gaaaaa.......... that requires wrestling the stove out of its location (You know it has been too long if the stove is stuck to the floor). It has been too long for us if we refuse to address the internal strife and bitterness with which we suffer. We dig our toes in and resist. Bitterness is fuel for our anger and gives us a good reason to avoid others. It is a defense mechanism and one that needs to torn down. Hear me. I am not suggesting we never get angry. That might just be humanly impossible. What I am suggesting is something Paul said in his writings.

“In your anger do not sin” : Do not let the sun go down while you are still angry, and do not give the devil a

foothold." (Ephesians 4:26-27, NIV)

When anger rises in us, hit the pause button and evaluate the triggers. Address the situation with prayer, silence, and seek wisdom for moving forward. In facing current anger and dealing with it, we avoid ongoing silent accumulation of stuff that only festers and grows more gross the longer we ignore it. In some unfortunate cases, one will hold onto bitterness so long that they become stuck (think stove stuck or glued to the floor by who knows what). I have lived in this downward death spiral in the past and know it will lead to nothing good. I have had "the come to Jesus meeting" and stood face to face with the Almighty. The syllabus for 'Forgiveness 101' was handed to me and then was instructed to get busy.

Forgiveness is so difficult for us. This isn't news. It has been the nature of humanity since "in the beginning". Blaming others is a default. Using anger and bitterness as weapons of leverage is a default. Enter the Lord who grabs a hold of our stove and begins to wrench it out of its resting place to reveal our goop. Because God has offered forgiveness of our sins through Jesus Christ, we are opened to the possibility of being cleaned and made bright and shiney!

Today is a new day to address internal 'anger' stuff that might be accumulating toward another person. It's time to ask for forgiveness from God and begin again. It's time to let it go and bask in God's immense forgiveness and love. The tipping point for our freedom is if we can seek and or offer forgiveness from the person with whom we are at odds. Jesus sets us free from the prisons that threaten to hold us captive and deadened to life. When you see the door swing open; walk through it.

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