God will place opportunities in front of you, doors only you can open. But you can’t step through them if you harbor unforgiveness. Unforgiveness is a prison.

Let me share a story with you that vividly illustrates this.

On Christmas Eve 1979, when Danny Duchene was a young teenager, he learned his parents had been arrested and put in prison in Mexico for smuggling cocaine. The news filled him with fear and anger. He drove to an empty parking lot and got high on drugs in his car. Realizing that the drugs gave him temporary relief from the pain, he committed to doing it every day.

As his addiction grew, so did his anger and anxiety, causing him to make riskier and riskier choices until one day he participated in a crime where he was responsible for the death of two men.

Little did Danny know that prison would become a place of rescue. Before he received a double life sentence, Danny gave his life to Jesus. Eventually, through Celebrate Recovery, Danny learned to ask for forgiveness and accept forgiveness—from himself and his parents.

On Christmas Eve 2014, 35 years after his parents were put in a Mexican prison, Danny walked out of prison and became a pastor at Saddleback Church. Today—more than three decades after being told he would spend the rest of his life in prison—he is helping prisoners across the nation find hope and healing through Jesus Christ.

Before he could walk through that door of opportunity, Danny had to walk out of the prison of bitterness.

The Bible tells us, “One person dies in full vigor, completely secure and at ease . . . Another dies in bitterness of soul, never having enjoyed anything good” (Job 21:23, 25 NIV). 

You have a choice. You can hold on to unforgiveness and bitterness, or you can experience the life God is calling you to live.You can’t have both.

You may think the person who hurt you doesn’t deserve your forgiveness. You’re right—but you don’t deserve forgiveness, either.

Ephesians 4:32 says, “Be kind and compassionate to one another, forgiving each other, just as in Christ God forgave you” (NIV).

Forgiveness isn’t easy. But it’s the only way to step into the life God wants for you.

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