The Epiphany

Early in 2006, we were actively involved in the “church search”
I’ve written about earlier.   Rich met a young man downtown one
day who was putting flyers under windshields to advertise a new
home church he was starting up.    We decided to go to a meeting
and see what it was about.     The young man and his wife were
Mark & Lisa Basnight.   We liked them right away and, felt very
comfortable at their home and thoroughly enjoyed Mark’s
preaching….very Bible-based and straightforward.       Although
membership in the new church, Charlotte Metro, was still very
small, Lisa as the pastor’s wife, decided one day in early fall, to
take the “church ladies” (all 6 of us!) to a restaurant one evening
for a ladies night out!   We had a ball!
During the course of the evening as we lingered over coffee and
dessert, one by one, we all told our “stories”.   Lisa was
truly horrified by my tale of never having been able to forgive
the individual responsible for all the abuse I suffered as a child
and a teenager.   “Dusty” she said, “You HAVE to forgive him!”
I just shook my head, “Not gonna happen, Lisa….you weren’t
there!”  She insisted, “Do you trust Jesus, D?” I nodded my
head, “Of course I do….but I can’t forgive the person who did
that to me.”  She explained, “YOU can’t, but Jesus can!!  You
just have to go through the motions and put it in His hands!”
I sighed, “Going thru the motions?   That’s saying something
you don’t mean and that’s the same as lying.”   Then it was her
turn to shake her head.    “It’s not lying….it’s admitting that
you can’t do it on your own and asking Christ to do it for you!
Promise me you’ll try?”     So I promised her I would.   Did I
think it had a chance of working?   Nope.   But I gave my word
and I’d keep it.
So I get home and Rich asks, “How was dinner?”   “Fine” I said.
I have to forgive what was done to me as a kid.”   Rich knew the
whole story and also knew how adamant I was that no
forgiveness was deserved, so all he said was, “Good luck with
that!”
I went upstairs to the office and emailed my sister in Florida. 
Did she have an email address for the person in question?   She
did, but was very leery….”Why do you want it after all these
years?  Do you know he’s almost 85 years old?”   I told her to
just give me the address and she did.
I took Lisa’s advice, kept it short …Dear ______, no need to
reply to this email….I just need you to know that I forgive you.  
For everything I remember and probably some things I don’t.  
It’s important to me that you know that.  Hope you’re well. 
 
Then I sat there with my finger on the send button for a long
time.  I said, “Lord?  You know as well as I do that I don’t mean
a word of this.   He’s never even admitted what he did OR asked
for my forgiveness, so this email is a lie.   But Lisa said to ask
Your help and put it in Your hands, so here it is:   I can’t do it…..
but the ball’s in Your court now Lord.  Amen.
Then I hit send.    I also avoided my computer like the plague
for the next week.   Even though I’d asked him NOT to reply
I knew in my heart that he would.   Probably with a 12-page
rant about how I was STILL a liar after all these years and
needed mental help, etc….   but I couldn’t avoid it forever and
on October 10, 2006, I dragged myself up the stairs to the office
and opened my email.  
Sure enough—there it was.   The reply I’d been dreading.   I
took a deep breath, clicked and this is what I read:
Dear Dusty, I was thrilled to get your email.  You don’t know
how hard I’ve prayed for over 30 years that you would some
how, someday find it in your heart to forgive me.   I can’t thank
you enough for writing to tell me….God truly does answer
prayers.
Love, _________
I was in shock!   No denials, no name-calling, just gratitude for
forgiveness granted!!   I sat there, totally numb for I don’t know
how long, before I realized two things.   That Jesus had really
done it!   Because, after reading the emai  I realized that all of
a sudden it wasn’t a lie…..I really could forgive him!!   And the
second thing?   I felt or sensed two hands on my shoulders, as
if Someone were standing behind me and I just KNEW, in my
heart, that if I turned around at that moment, I’d be face to face
with my Savior.    For that instant, time stopped.  Nothing
moved except the tears that were rolling down my face and
splashing on the keyboard (kinda like now as I re-tell this
story!)    I never did turn around, but from that instant on my
life has NEVER been the same!     That’s the day that Rich
said I went UP the stairs as one person and came down some
one totally different.
Now don’t get me wrong….I’ve been a Christian my whole life.  
I’ve always prayed to, believed in and trusted God.   But I was a
closet-Christian.   It honestly never occurred to me to talk about
God with other people.  My faith was mine.   A-B conversation —-
others could C their way out, thank-you.
But after that day, I became an in-your-face Christian.   Totally
amazed at what God had done in MY life and completely on
fire to tell everyone else about it.   
First person I called was Clayton, my mentor from the Steam-
boat.   Lots of questions I had!    Like why on earth, if God was
able to make it possible for me to forgive like this, had He not
done it 30 years earlier?    I felt like I’d wasted 30 years of my
life!!     Clayton said, “Girl, never doubt the Lord’s timing. 
Just think about it….now you’re on a mission to spread the
Gospel and the Name of Christ to everyone you can, as fast
as you can.    But, if you had started all this 30 years ago,
would you have pursued it with the same fire and passion
that I hear in your voice today?    I don’t think so.    You’ve
always had the gifts He blessed you with and He’s always
wanted to use you to bless and touch others, but He wasn’t
able to because you’d never given Him complete control
of your heart.     You’re unwillingness to forgive was like
a wall between you and all the things Jesus wanted to do
in you and through you.     Once you gave the problem over
to Him, that wall came tumbling down…..what you’re
experiencing now is God fully in control of your life.  Your
talents, your gifts, your WHOLE being.    I’m thrilled for
you and all I can say is;  Hand on tight and eat your
Wheatties…. it’s gonna be a wild ride!!”   And it has been!
Details to follow!!
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