JUNE 7, 2017 Devotional: “Forgiveness and Reconciliation”

Truth be told, I’m not the greatest runner.  Never have been and probably will never be one.  I can plan these weekly running-focused workouts on Wednesday mornings, but you’ll more than likely find me in the middle of the pack.  That’s actually fine for me.  I can keep an eye on the gazelles up front, while still keeping an eye on the others even less running-gifted than me, who are slightly to the rear of our gaggle.

Last week, I was running beside a friend who was making our strides interesting because he was pointing out several interesting facts about the owners of several homes along the route.  “See that one right there”, he’d say as he quickly followed up with some interesting tidbit of information.  “And that house over there….”, and would add some more little know facts that only people who’ve lived in Charlotte a long time would know.

But one particular home drew a more somber tone.  The house belonged to a family where the matriarch just barely in her 50’s, was on the fading side of her battle against a deadly disease.  “The family”, my friend seemed to whisper, “has had to call in for Hospice.”

It made the rest of our run somewhat less lively.

Later that week, my friend said he wouldn’t be joining me this week for a run because of business travel.  Yesterday, surprisingly when I saw him still in town, he told me the woman had passed away and he stayed in town to attend the funeral.

I got back home and saw on Facebook that a classmate of mine had passed away over the weekend.  He was a courageous soldier and fearless leader.  But he battled the hidden scars left from Post Traumatic Stress (PTS).  Over the weekend, my classmate took his own life.  Some of you know, I had already attended the funeral for another classmate earlier this year.  Two classmates within a short amount of time, is too many.

My life lately seems to be a lot like my running.  I’m getting in the miles, but my stride still seems a little bit sluggish.  I have moments where I question more often the “why” especially when I hear about some of these tragedies.  The loss of lives way too soon.

Today’s devotional will not be one where I wrap it all up nicely in a silk ribbon, packaged up beautifully and worthy of putting on the refrigerator door.  That’s life, I suppose.

So where do we go from here?

At a broader sense, I know a loving God is in control….and when He decides the time to call his children home is never on our timeline.  It’s on His.  We are reminded, always, to be thankful for the gifts our Heavenly Father provides us.  And certainly, many of those gifts are the friendships and family we carry along through life.  When they’re gone, it really stinks.  But perhaps gratitude should quickly follow the natural grieving process that we all experience.

My Friday morning men’s Bible study group is wrapping up a book called “The Resolution for Men”….and it’s a call to action for the past 7 weeks on how men can follow the teachings of Christ and provide positive influence in many ways.  Ladies, before you shut me down, there’s also a “Resolution for Women” book as well!  Check it out!

Last week’s lesson was about forgiveness.  There are two sides to forgiveness that we often forget.  First, we are all called to seek forgiveness for our transgressions.  That’s fairly easy, right.  Next, however, is the harder one.  We are likewise called to forgive those who transgress against us.

Wait one minute now.  I can forgive…but I cannot forget.

Really?  Have you read Jeremiah 31:34?

No longer will they teach their neighbor,
    or say to one another, ‘Know the Lord,’
because they will all know me,
    from the least of them to the greatest,”
declares the Lord.
“For I will forgive their wickedness
    and will remember their sins no more.”  JER 31:34

News flash.  If it’s good enough for our Lord to forgive and forget….then it’s definitely a good idea for us to do the same.

Why am I saying all this?

I am often reminded during times of sadness to make every moment last.  Life is too short and we might all experience days like I’ve described above.

Life is tough.  Enjoy every moment” was the message my friend said in an email to me yesterday morning, as he forwarded the woman’s obituary from the local paper.

To me, the lesson in all of this is that we are called to enjoy life.  If our lives have any ounce of bitterness or lack of forgiveness against anyone, then we are not living that life to the fullest.

My prayer this week is that we take the time to conduct our own inventory of not only those who we should seek forgiveness.  But also those who we have not yet forgiven.  We all have spiritual containers that we fill with life’s experiences.  The more bad experiences you continue to hold inside that container, then the more limiting you are to fill your container with goodness.

Seek reconciliation today, patch up grievances, and move on with a more fruitful life……Amen!