Unforgiveness is like drinking poison and expecting the other person to die! The only one who is hurt is the one who will not forgive.
Though forgiveness is one of the most important keys to freedom, it does not come naturally. We don't necessarily walk in forgiveness simply because we say we forgive. It is a mental and emotional choice that we may have to make over and over until we finally experience release.
Harry and I had to work through many memories and hurts from our past. As we did, God showed us pathways to freedom from abuse, depression, rejection, abandonment, and many other emotionally and relationally crippling thought patterns. We stopped the vicious cycle of blaming each other for our emotional hurts and little by little learned to operate as one. We truly became "one flesh."
We even blended our ministries into a family ministry, proclaiming one message with two voices--a message of restoration, hope and healing. Our children traveled, ministered and sang with us. Our life together was truly a dream come true for us both.
LIVING IN AGREEMENT Then in January 1999, our dream was shattered when we learned that our 5-year-old angel, Gabrielle--our only daughter--had an inoperable brain tumor. She was given just weeks to live.
In the face of this trial, Harry and I battled together, continually walking in agreement, no matter what the decision, from the smallest to the most life-threatening. We walked as one, operated as one.
We tried to keep life as normal as possible, and when Gabrielle's little body could handle it, we would go back on the road preaching. We would shout, "Restore, restore, restore!" And we believed God would heal her.
One particularly hard day came in July of that year. We were in Michigan, and very suddenly Gabrielle's condition began to deteriorate rapidly. We loaded up the motor coach and as quickly as humanly possible headed down the interstate toward Tulsa, our home.
After we were on the road a few hours, I couldn't get her to respond at all. No matter what I did, no matter how many shots I gave her, she was turning blue--no air was getting through. She was dying.
I told Harry we had to do something. We were very close to an exit where we knew a church was standing with us for Gabrielle's healing and restoration.
I called ahead, and miraculously they were gathered in the sanctuary interceding and standing in the gap for our daughter at that very moment! One of the people in the group met us at the exit and escorted us at record speeds through the town and toward the nearest hospital.
When we arrived the medical personnel put Gabrielle on life support. They ran a cat scan and gave voice to the worst of our fears. If something did not change quickly, she would be gone in an hour or two.
They loaded her in a helicopter to fly her to a neonatal intensive care unit (ICU) in Kalamazoo. My heart was broken, Harry's heart was broken and our boys' hearts were broken, but we quickly jumped into action, pulling down strongholds, casting down imaginations that were trying to take hold in our minds because of what the doctors had said. We prayed, we agreed, we stood together.
The doctors told us they would need to operate immediately. The surgery would not prolong her life, but it might ease some of the pressure at that moment.
Harry and I told them we had to pray. We went into a small room by ourselves and sought the Lord.
Harry spoke first. He rehearsed the facts. This operation would only weaken her further. It would not cure her, and it would not help the overall situation.
We prayed and sought the counsel of the Holy Spirit. We both felt the operation was not God's choice for this situation. Ultimately, it would not change anything. We agreed.
When we told the doctor our decision, he reiterated that without the operation, she would live for only another hour. We refused to receive this death sentence. We tried not to think; we just stayed in agreement. No matter what, we agreed.
An hour passed, then another. Three, four, five hours turned into 10 hours--the night was over, and she was still with us!
The peace of God was so pervasive in the ICU that the attending doctor remained after his shift was over to talk with us. In the course of our conversation we discovered that just a year before his 3-year-old son had died of the same thing Gabrielle had!
We shared Jesus with him. We loved him. Our agreement and strength spoke to him. Gabrielle came out of the coma and was taken off life support. She continued to breathe on her own. After 36 hours they told us we could take her home. They did another MRI, and what they had seen on the first one that gave her only an hour or two to live was not there any longer.