Matney: God longs for restored relationships
This past week, as I got dressed to meet with an out of state friend for breakfast, I felt strongly impressed to put a handkerchief into my back pocket. I haven’t carried a handkerchief since the winter months, but I put one into my pocket and went to breakfast.
In a moment, I’ll get back to the handkerchief and breakfast with my friend, but first, let me reflect very briefly on the tragedies stabbing our hearts. From local suicides, to the shootings this past week in El Paso and Dayton, to the political strife convulsing our land and our world, our nation is in tremendous pain. My purpose in writing is to offer some hope.
Back to the breakfast with my friend. During breakfast, Dennis, shared with me some of the painful story of how some of his board members had tried to remove him from the presidency of the ministry his family had started. God had protected him and his organization from the takeover and also ultimately brought reconciliation with those men who had tried to remove him from office. It brought hope to me that God can heal my own broken relationships. I was thankful I had put the handkerchief into my pocket — I needed it to dry my tears as Dennis shared his story.
After I left the restaurant and was working at the church office, Paul came in. As we talked, he told me about some family conflicts that resulted in his son, Matt, being estranged from the family, and as a result, Paul had not seen or talked with his son for 15 years.
Then, one day, just this last winter, Matt called. He asked if he could come home for Christmas. Paul said that after so many years, he didn’t know how to greet his son, but when Matt pulled up, the family hid around the corner of the house and when Matt came around the corner, they all fell on each other in a big family embrace. They had a beautiful reconciliation, and once again, I was brought to tears and needed that handkerchief.
These examples of healing and reconciliation bring hope to me for mothers and daughters, fathers and sons and siblings in conflict. I was talking with an individual whose mother had passed away. After her passing there had been tremendous anger and fighting over her estate. The individual said to me, “My brother and I will probably never talk again.” Where is my handkerchief? It brings me to tears of sorrow just writing about that broken relationship.
I long for healing and reconciliation for our families, our communities, our churches and our nation — and I have hope. I have hope because God also longs for restored relationships and is at work to bring it about.
“For God was in Christ, reconciling the world to himself, no longer counting people’s sins against them. And he gave us this wonderful message of reconciliation” (2 Corinthians 5:19). “The Message” version of this verse reads, “This comes from the God who settled the relationship between us and him, and then called us to settle our relationships with each other.” God is love and he is calling us to settle our relationships in love. How is this done?
Healing and reconciliation between individuals and nations start by renouncing our own pride and ego, taking full responsibility for our own failures, and then, in a spirit of humility, asking for forgiveness for our own wrongdoing and making amends wherever possible. These are the steps to reconciliation with both God and man.
Then, as we experience God’s forgiveness and grace, we are empowered to extend forgiveness to others for their wrongdoing. We are Christ’s ambassadors. God is using us to speak to you: we beg you, as though Christ himself were here pleading with you, receive the love he offers you — be reconciled to God (2 Corinthians 5:20).
I have hope. If God can help Dennis and his board members and Paul and his son, I believe God will help all who sincerely desire reconciliation and restoration of relationships. And, there may be a need for many more handkerchiefs.
Dan Matney is the pastor at New Life Assembly of God in Avon. Email him at firstname.lastname@example.org.