Dear Devil: I Forgive You!

Evil is a parasite. Therefore, the Devil can only thrive if we play host.

1 Peter 5:8 warns us, "Be sober, be vigilant; because your adversary the devil walks about like a roaring lion, seeking whom he may devour." The Devil is also remarkably adept at sneaking around, whispering into our ears.

First, the bad news: The Devil knocked on our door long ago, and we let him in. He feasted to his heart's content and then settled in for the long haul.

He's now the anxiety anchored in the pit of our chests. He's poet of the doubt and guilt that bombard us. He's the one who has turned our minds into a war zone of dueling emotions. He's master of the light switch, plunging us into the darkness of confusion, materialism, depression, self-consciousness, greed, cruelty, and sin.

The Devil has become our abusive partner, whom we think will change his ways. To whom we repeatedly give second chances. It'll get better, we convince ourselves. This latest temptation will make us happier, yes it will, we tell ourselves. More satisfied, more popular, prettier, richer, we lie to ourselves.

Then, SMACK! Our goals, our dreams, our souls are left battered and bruised, again. While the Devil smiles.

Yet still, the Devil remains a voice in our ear, promising that the same mistake will yield new results. He is the hunter and we are his prey. He slithers into every cell in our bodies like poison, with the sole purpose of slowly killing us. Indeed, the Devil is the ultimate houseguest who has long overstayed his welcome.

Now for the good news: There is an antidote to evil so powerful that not even the Devil can resist being repelled.

Forgiveness.

One of the most important gifts God has given to us in this life is the ability to forgive. It's a gift that we have to work at and cultivate. It's not easy, nor should it be by mere nature of its enormous gravity to cleanse and restore us. We always have a choice in every situation we encounter, including the most hurtful and devastating circumstances. The choice to forgive is ingrained within us from birth onward. Its power is a diamond in the rough awaiting our polish.

I continue to work daily on forgiveness, knowing it is a pathway to freedom for my soul and peace of mind. God Himself is in those three simple words: I forgive you.

When the image of someone who has hurt me pops up in my mind, I think or say aloud, "I forgive you." It's not necessary for that person to be standing in front of me. That's not always feasible. More often than not, this process is a marathon. Jesus's own words to Peter in Matthew 18:22 propel me: Seventy times seven. Sometimes, that's just for starters!

Then came a light bulb moment--the Holy Spirit's spotlight burning through the fog! I realized that I had the power to go straight to the source of all evil and pull the plug. Just as I pray to God, I realized I can speak directly to the Devil as well. Especially since he certainly does enough whispering and roaring in my ear.

It was time to serve the ultimate eviction notice.

***

Dear Devil:

I forgive you!

Yes, you heard me correctly. I forgive you.

I can see the look of surprise and disgust on your twisted face at the sound of those words. A cartoon rendering with smoke pouring out of your pointy little red ears.

Just saying those three words makes me feel lighter and free. I've opened the front door through which you once breezed right on in, and I'm signaling loudly and clearly that it's now time for you to go.

I'm literally pushing the Lord's words in Mark 11:25 to the end zones of hell: "And whenever you stand praying, if you have anything against anyone, forgive him, that your Father in heaven may also forgive you your trespasses."

I FORGIVE YOU, DEVIL!

And I won't be fooled again. I know you are a warrior and tyrant. You didn't get to where you are with a faint heart, but with a cunning of steel. I know you're not going to give up that easily on me. But too bad for you, I now understand this. I am ever on guard against your wicked snares.

In moments of weakness, I have a powerful reinforcement to call upon: "I embrace you, Holy Spirit!"

Ah, I can see the rage of anger flickering on your flushed face, Devil. I can feel the searing heat emanating from your withered body. Yet, I no longer suffer from your burn.

You need me more than I need you. Parasite. You need me to do your bidding, otherwise you're powerless alone. Maybe that look on your face is actually fear, with the realization I'm leaving you.

In fact, I'm going to sprinkle a little blessed salt on your wounded ego: Not only do I forgive you, Devil, I also swaddle you in love and gratitude before sending you on your way.

I am grateful for the many lessons you have taught me the hard way through pain and challenges in my life. With God's mercy as a guiding hand at my back, I have transformed your destructive punches into stepping-stones toward the light of salvation.

I smile as I watch the power of my love and forgiveness wrap around your colossal girth of pure evil like a giant hook, pulling a bad performer from the stage of my life.

In your place, I welcome in the fresh, rejuvenating breeze.

Farewell,

John