“And when you stand praying, if you hold anything against anyone, forgive them, so that your Father in heaven may forgive you your sins.” Mark 11:25

 

What happens when we hold unforgiveness in our hearts? Is it just our way of holding a grudge and getting back at someone, or does it have a deeper effect than that? The Bible is very clear that, as children of God, our forgiveness is to be unending and extravagant, but if we’re honest with ourselves, we come up short most of the time.

 

Caleb Bannister had every reason to be bitter about the sins committed against him. As a one-month-old baby, Caleb was abandoned by his parents and left for dead underneath a ti plant in Kenya.

 

Hours later, his crying alerted a woman nearby who found him and took him to a police station. Not knowing what to do, they sent him to a rundown clinic, where he was placed in an incubator to be nursed to health.

 

A couple weeks later, a missionary woman visited the clinic and met Caleb. She took him into her home, giving him food, clothing, and abundant love.

 

Not long after, that woman heard of another missionary family from Canada who was looking to adopt a son. She contacted the couple and introduced them to Caleb. They instantly fell in love with the six-month-old boy and decided to adopt him and take him back to Canada.

 

 

Caleb grew up knowing of God’s love for him, exemplified through his adopted parents. But life wasn’t all hugs and kisses. He faced a lot of bullying because of his skin color. As a result, he became a very bitter person, resenting his biological parents for abandoning him all those years ago. How could he ever forgive them?

 

He struggled with finding his purpose and began looking for it in all the wrong places. In middle school, he lashed out by becoming verbally abusive to his classmates. He also fell into the temptation of his lust and began looking at pornography.

 

As the years passed, Caleb continued getting worse and worse. His anger and unforgiveness was eating him from the inside out, and it was taking its toll on his relationships with God and family. He was on a one-way road to self-destruction with nowhere to turn.

 

Eventually, Caleb came to YWAM Kona to do a DTS. During class one day, he was struggling to believe that Holy Spirit would talk to him. One of the staff members noticed this and told him to ask God what might be in his heart that’s hurting him.

 

He reluctantly agreed and said, “God, what is this inside me that’s hurting so bad?” Much to Caleb’s surprise, God responded, saying, “Caleb. You have unforgiveness in your heart. You need to forgive your mother and father for what they did to you.”

 

 

Knowing that this was the voice of God, he broke down crying. From that day forward, he decided he would make it his goal to live his life free of the anger that plagued his heart caused by the actions of his biological parents. It wasn’t easy, but he could see God working on him in amazing ways.

 

Unforgiveness is such a poison to our spirits. It hinders us from living the lives God has for us. Only when we choose to forgive can we live the way we are meant to live: Free from anger, free from our past, and free from ourselves. Is there anyone you need to forgive?

Author: Grant Kurili


Grant Kurili has been part of YWAM for three years and has studied with the School of Writing in Kona, Hawai’i. He is currently serving as part of the Communications Department at YWAM Kona.