Recently I was reading a book and came across a simple yet, to me, a profound statement: “Pay It Forward”. When was the last time you hit “pause” and took a moment to reflect on how you got to where you are? The people in your life that helped mold you into the person you are? Now, I realize that this may open a can of worms, maybe stir up bad memories for some. Maybe you think there is no way you are going down that path. I get that. I used to think of myself as a survivor and having survived no way would I go down that path again. But I came to realize that I am more than a survivor, I am an overcomer, and you can be one too. Consider this, every person that has ever crossed paths with you, has helped to shape you in some small way.
Never pay back evil for evil to anyone. Respect what is right in the sight of all men. If possible, so far as it depends on you, be at peace with all men.Romans 12:17,18 NASB
Be at peace with all men. Now that may be asking a whole lot and you can’t see how that is possible. Looking back in your past what do you remember most? Is it the dingy, dark memories of hurts and losses? Or do you remember happier times? Maybe as a child you were hurt by the people who were supposed to take care of you, protect you, and teach you how to discern right from wrong. Instead of teaching you and protecting you, they exploited and hurt you. Or maybe you grew up in a loving, caring family, one that taught you right from wrong. Protected you from evil while teaching you how to discern and recognize it.
Fast forward. How do you see yourself? Are you confident? Timid? Ashamed? Angry? Maybe you can’t put into words how you feel. That’s okay. Imagine that child inside you, the one who was dealt a bad hand. But was it really? Don’t misunderstand, I’m not saying that what you may have experienced wasn’t bad but let’s look beyond the bad for a closer look. For every bad deal you faced there was always a sliver of good. You may not see it at first but its there. You grasp the pieces of good, no matter how small or large it is and tuck it away in a wooden box with a lock on it that only you can open. It’s a simple box, nothing fancy, but it holds your treasures. Each time something happens you grasp the sliver of good and tuck it inside the box.
You’re older now and still you tuck the slivers of good inside the box. The box that is filled to almost overflowing. After all, its the only thing you know to do. On the surface, you appear to be confident, self assured. Inside, you are a mess. The ready smile on your lips that doesn’t reach anywhere near your eyes but that’s okay, no one really notices. At least you don’t think anyone does. You come across a person who seems to look right through you to your very core of existence. They tell you things about yourself that leaves you wondering who exactly is this person? Pointing to your box, the one you think is hidden, you’re told it’s time to pay it forward. Pay it forward? What does that mean?
But as it is written: “Eye has not seen, nor ear heard, nor have entered into the heart of man the things which God has prepared for those who love Him.”1 Corinthians 2:9
As you contemplate on what you were told to do a feeling of resentment bubbles up inside; how dare anyone tell you to give up your slivers. The anger builds until you see someone who stops you in your tracks. Someone who reminds you of what you had been through. Almost as though someone else has taken control, you find yourself reaching for the box and pulling out a sliver of good. As you hand them the sliver from your box, you watch as tears flow from their eyes as they hurriedly tuck it inside their own box. What just happened? Before long, you’ve given away the slivers and your box is now empty. You think you should be feeling sad at giving away all the slivers but you find yourself with a feeling of elation. You want more of this feeling. This feeling of freedom and being set free from the guilt, shame, and anger that’s followed you for as long as you can remember. And you can have it.
For God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son, that whoever believes in Him should not perish but have everlasting life. For God did not send His Son into the world to condemn the world, but that the world through Him might be saved.John 3:16, 17
Its time to pay it forward. Its time to dig deep; to pull those slivers of good that were mixed with the hurts and pass them on. To share life experiences with someone who is at a crossroad and needs someone to encourage them. To show them there is hope and a future waiting for them. Are you ready to pay it forward? Look in your box again and you may find that it’s filled with new treasures. Treasures from the Father that He is able to give to you now that you emptied your box. God bless!