Hope for Broken Relationships
My life is as broken as yours.
Just because I get paid to be holy or abused depending upon your pathology doesn’t mean I’m immune to an aching heart on those solitary dark nights when I puff with no escape from broken relationships.
My family feels it comes second to church; and PKs are your product.
Why do you think there are so many divorced clergy and children who are so distant from them?
I recall a session meeting about six months after being ordained.
An elder scolded me for not spending more time with my family; then another elder agreed, “That’s right, pastor, you’ve got to set an example for other members.”
That same elder said later in the meeting with a straight face, “Pastor, we’ve been hearing complaints that you haven’t been attending any of our women’s circles and our youth director says you don’t come out to help him on Sunday nights or with lock-ins and retreats and our men’s Saturday morning breakfast group says you don’t come regularly and you really should be greeting the AA groups that meet on Tuesdays and Thursdays and we really think you should lead worship in our nursing home on Sundays after church and be more visible there and be sure to turn off the lights and lock up the church at night…and…and…and…”
No wonder I was bald at 27.
While I have no doubts about my call that will expire with the last breath – I only believe in retirement for those who were never called in the first place or can’t do it anymore for emotional or physical reasons - I have regrets for many sins; especially those against my family that are more about omission than commission.
Most people don’t care; and when I talk like this, some folks will accuse me of feeling sorry for myself and scorn me for being so ungrateful for the privilege of working only one day a week.
So, you see, I’m just like you; and just like you, I have always and will always need Lord Jesus as Savior.
Jesus is my only hope for broken relationships.
Yes, it is possible to heal broken relationships in time if we come back to each other through Him.
That’s a big if; and God knows we know God knows few people who seem wanting and rarely willing to go through Him to each other for reconciliation.
That’s why things are so broken in our world, country, churches, families, schools, and all of the below.
I think of Jesus asking the fellah at Jerusalem’s Bethesda pool, “Do you want to be healed?”
The man wanted to be healed; so Jesus healed him.
Today, I can almost hear Jesus in the distance that we’ve placed between Him and us, “Do you want that relationship healed?”
“Nah,” comes the imagined response based on empirical data.
Still, God wants to heal our broken relationships.
He is the Father of Luke 15.
You know the stories.
He always wants lost sheep back in the flock.
He always wants lost coins back in the safe place.
He always wants lost children back home.
And when the Father gets them back, He says, “Rejoice with Me! My lost sheep are back! I have found the lost coin! We have to celebrate and rejoice because this son of Mine and brother of yours is back home again! He was dead to us! He is alive again to us! I thought the sheep and coins and children and parents and everyone else were lost. I have found them. I am so happy! Let’s rejoice and celebrate!”
Sheep are stupid, lose His way, and wander off into bad places.
Coins are lost.
Children of all ages lose His way and wander off into bad places.
Yet the Father always wants them back, invites them back, welcomes them back, and celebrates their return!
That’s how He treats us.
That’s how He wants us to treat each other.
But it doesn’t always happen in time.
I know because I do lots of funerals and see the pain and sorrow and unquenchable grief of broken relationships never healed in time.
I know because I live with broken relationships that have not been healed; and because I am just like you, I empathize with your pain and sorrow and unquenchable grief over broken relationships never healed in time.
Fortunately, by grace through faith in Jesus, we have forever to catch up.
That’s why, for a Christian, the worst thing that can happen in time is the best thing that can happen forever.
That’s why, as David Redding wrote, “Anyone who feels sorry for a dead Christian, as though the poor chap were missing something, is himself missing the transfiguring promotion involved.”
That’s why we say heaven begins the first nano-second after the last breath; or as Jesus referred to our never-ending story in one word: paradise.
John’s apocalypse describes heaven/paradise this way: “God will wipe away every tear…Death will exist no longer…No more grief or crying or pain or any of the painful things of time.”
In other words, Christians know eternal life after life in time is punctuated by the restoration/healing of all relationships through God.
Because heaven/paradise is the pure and perfect place of personal peace, every relationship is restored, returned, and, yes, reborn.
No wasted or squandered time in heaven/paradise.
No more wouldas or couldas or shouldas in heaven/paradise.
By grace through faith in Jesus, we have forever to catch up and make up and relish relationships lost in time but regained through Him in heaven/paradise.
That’s our hope for broken relationships.
Any relationship can be fixed in time in/through/for Jesus.
That doesn’t always happen.
They will be healed in heaven because it’s paradise.
What was lost in time lasts forever because everyone is saved in heaven/paradise.
Billy Graham often told a story to illustrate the good news in Luke 15.
He got it from a short story by Ernest Hemingway titled The Capital of the World.
Here’s a quick summary.
A father and son’s relationship was broken. The son ran away and the father tried to find him. In a last attempt to find him, the father placed an ad in a Madrid newspaper: “Paco, meet me at the Hotel Montana. Noon Tuesday. All is forgiven. Papa.”
800 Pacos showed up on Tuesday.
I have good news from God.
All broken relationships can be healed in time if we approach each other through Him.
Grace, mercy, and forgiveness heal all broken relationships.
Unfortunately, as God knows we know God knows, there’s not enough grace, mercy, and forgiveness in our world, country, churches, families, schools, and all of the below to heal broken relationships.
Yet, despite the bad news of what we’ve done with His good news to heal broken relationships in time, His good news is not limited to here and now.
Our souls that came from Him return to Him by grace through faith in Jesus; and when that happens, heaven/paradise commences and never ceases.
That’s what those stories in Luke 15 are all about.
They summarize the gospel.
Father always wants, invites, welcomes, and celebrates our return; and insists there is no room in heaven/paradise for any more broken relationships.
Everyone and everything is healed in heaven/paradise.
What we forfeit in time doesn’t have to last forever.
That’s the assurance of knowing Jesus as Lord and Savior.
Of course, if we’re breathing, we can taste what lasts forever in time by wanting, inviting, welcoming, and celebrating Him in all of our relationships.
We don’t have to wait forever to be healed.
All we have to do is pay attention to His advertising and show up.
Blessings and Love!
Shatter the sound of silence!
Wake up! Look up! Stand up! Speak up! Act up for Jesus!
Salt! Shine! Leavenate!
Very good and true Pastor. Thank you God Bless
Not sure what has been going on of late that triggered such a deep pain that eats at the soul. I know you have mentioned that your sons have had difficulty with your divorce and life as a pastor. Guess they would contend that you were pastor to everyone but them.
This week’s reflection allows those who will read it objectively, to once again see that their Pastor is human. A man who must preach the Word, in season and out, whether convenient or not, always realizing that at times it chastises him, condemns him in his own living of life. Yet, week after week, we stand there, trying to be as faithful as we can to the Word entrusted to us to be passed on to another generation. Sometimes, an even, a word spoken or not spoken, will open for us the wound that had started to heal.
You are right, my brother of a different faith persuasion, that the final healing is yet to come. As hard as we might try to bring it about before our last breath, some will allude us. It is funny how the courts do not even allow me to have any contact, in any form, with those who were hurt by me. They, I, have to heal never hearing the other say I know your pain, I caused it, or I acknowledge it. Neither can offer a hand in love. So, life marches on each day, calling us to touch those we can, be healed by those who will allow us to be. And you and I must wait. We must wait till the Father tells us to come home to a place he prepared for us. A place that knows no pain, has wiped the last tear or repentance from our face, and replaced the tears with kisses.
You continue to inspire me, move me, challenge me and for that I thank you today and all the tomorrows we still have to speak of his love, his faithfulness, his understanding of what we do not even fully understand.
I have a picture near me with an exhausted lion asleep on a log.
Caption: "The worst part about being strong is that no one ever asks if you're okay."
Your first paragraph was especially painful to read because it is so on target to truth in my life.
The sheep will never know the sin that I called sacrifice at the expense of my family.
If it were not for seeing beyond the bounds of vision to paradise, I would be among the walking dead.
Love you, brother.
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