After a leisure start to Monday, I finished the day with bags under my eyes – having a marathon of a discussion from about 8.00pm until 00.30am in the morning with the pastor and his wife, Yani, Novi, along with the visiting pastor and his wife as well. We talked about many things concerning our church and the issues that we are facing at the moment. I should be in bed now, but I want to share what’s in my heart before it’s gone.
One of the topics discussed was forgiveness – a topic that’s quite close to my heart. Many years ago when I joined the ministry team in my local church in Kelapa Gading, Jakarta, I did something that I regretted ever since. In the year 2000, I was one of the singers and worship leaders, and I was appointed to join the combined ministry team for the Easter Service in the main church. Because of a silly little thing (the appointed worship leader from the main church kept on transposing the key for one of the songs higher and higher during practice), I bailed out of the service the next day, without any explanation. None. I didn’t accept the numerous calls from the music director, and not even from the pastor of my church. I simply disappeared without any explanation. Now I know that that is what happens when you minister using your own strength … it saps your energy, leaving you dry and burnt out.
Soon after, I left to Singapore to enter a new chapter in my career – the 2.5 years were good to me financially. However, I was nosediving spiritually. I went to church over there only occasionally, preferring to spend my Sundays being lazy, shopping around Orchard Road, or spending time with my expat friends over champagne brunches. I didn’t feel at peace when I went to church, and even when I lifted my hands and pretended that I was enjoying God’s presence, I knew that something wasn’t right in my life.
It was only years later in 2003 when I already moved to Adelaide, that God pushed me to apologise to the pastor and the music director of my former church in Kelapa Gading. By then, I couldn’t apologise to them in person because the pastor had returned to the US, and the music director had also moved to the US to study ministry. It pained me that I wasn’t able to ask for forgiveness in person. I wrote in my email that I hoped one day I would meet them in Heaven, where I could ask for an apology in person. I relayed the story to my friends in Adelaide during prayer meeting and I cried so hard because of the pain in my heart.
I’ve learnt my lesson now – if you have an issue with somebody, please settle it as soon as possible while you have the chance to apologise or accept the apology in person. You don’t know whether the person will be around any longer … yes, you can apologise through emails, text messages, letters or phone calls, but they’re not the same. I wish my friends would learn from my mistake, by forgetting their pride and hurt, and learning to apologise from their heart. The pain for not doing so would just be too hard to bear …
‘To forgive is to set a prisoner free and discover that the prisoner was you.’
Lewis B. Smedes