Oh, what a night! I was overwhelmed with the number of family and friends who poured into the beautiful VISTA Room at the SC State Museum to give glory to God and to celebrate with me. We praised Him for all He has done, is doing, and we prayed for what He will continue to do with Unlocked Hearts, Unleashed Joy ~ Forgiveness Is the Key - a Bible study/memoir with a message of hope and restoration through the power of forgiveness.
Writing the manuscript for this study over a year and a half taught me so much about myself and my long-time faith journey in relationship with Christ. He allowed me to see His hand of protection over me, His extravagant grace, love, and mercy towards me, and He showed me how forgiveness is not a one-and-done, but a holy art form - a discipline that must be practiced throughout our lifetime as we seek to reflect the heart of Christ.
Forgiveness is the key to unlocking the deep, satisfying joy that only comes by grace through faith in Jesus Christ. His forgiveness towards us even while we were still living in sin (Romans 5:8), is difficult to wholly absorb. Christ, the sacrificial Lamb, died for us providing the only way of redemption and restored our broken relationship with the Heavenly Father. In the receiving of His gift of salvation we have the power through the indwelling of the Holy Spirit to forgive others as He has forgiven us (Colossians 3:13).
The overflowing joy that comes with receiving and offering forgiveness is presented in Unlocked Hearts, Unleashed Joy ~ Forgiveness Is the Key through some difficult circumstances extracted from my own personal story and from others in Scripture. Each story proves the inexpressible love, grace, mercy, and faithfulness of a good, good Father who is patiently pursuing everyone who will trust Him and Who is committed to redeeming all of creation for His glory and our future.
Forgiving people who've hurt us in some fashion is not something that comes natural. In fact it's unnatural according to the world's standards. But when we trust our wounds to the Healer of our hearts, the Holy Spirit is free to ignite supernatural power to let it go and forgive. When this happens, our spiritual eyes are opened to see those who've wounded us as souls who need to be restored just as we needed to be restored. There's no greater joy that being a part of someone's story of redemption. But even if they don't receive or reciprocate the gift of forgiveness, we can know our hearts can move forward with the healing process with no guilt or shame.
Another layer of forgiveness we sometimes struggle with the most is our inability to forgive ourselves. Just as it is unnatural to forgive others, it's even harder to let ourselves off the hook. But again, in Christ, the Spirit is faithful to empower us and break the chains of an unforgiving spirit toward ourselves too, if we're willing to lay it down and let it go.
From being stuck inside a frightening nightmare to being set free, I've learned that walking in real freedom comes through the power of forgiveness - the key to unlocking our hearts and unleashing the joy He has promised us. What are you waiting for? Find that key!
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More pictures of the Book Launch can be seen on my Author Facebook Page @writermelanieshull.
Photography credit: Madison Shull Photography
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