The Lord’s anger burned against Israel and he made them wander in the wilderness forty years, until the whole generation of those who had done evil in his sight was gone. Numbers 32:13
I recently had the opportunity to exercise my forgiveness muscle. Thankfully, it had been a while since I had to overcome a “burning” anger, frustration or disappointment this big, but it was a burning anger! This is one I had to continually turn over to the Lord over and over again so ensure His hand was in the middle and restoring my heart so that I didn’t sin in my anger. Sometimes this “loving your neighbor” thing can be harder than painting your toenails at the end of a pregnancy!
Therefore each of you must put off falsehood and speak truthfully to your neighbor, for we are all members of one body. “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 4:25-27
So, what does forgiveness have to do with Juniper? Well, there is a lot of juniper in the yard where we are living now (see picture above of our juniper). It’s a natural, green, prickly ground cover that only needs occasional pruning. It gets lush and green, but after a while gets a little out of control. So we recently had it pruned. Just a smidge but after the pruning, the top of the juniper turns brown for a time before turning it’s beautiful lush green color again. Even though it goes through a little shock at first and turned brown, It’s good for the juniper. This juniper reminded me of how God’s laws and pruning produce fruit, but sometimes it’s not pretty during process.
Refrain from anger and turn from wrath; do not fret—it leads only to evil. Psalms 37:8
I know this opportunity to exercise my forgiveness muscle and love my neighbor will produce fruit if I keep God in the middle and allow Him to soften my heart and open my eyes to His will. No, it isn’t always pretty and sometimes it down right hurts to follow the narrow way, but it always produces more beautiful fruit than I ever expected. I know it will not be by my power and might that forgiveness overtakes anger. It WILL BE by my Father’s power, His love, His grace and His mercy that it happens. Afterall, what He has done for me, I desire to extend to others.