Thursday, January 13, 2011

ISSUES OF THE HEART: 6 - Run to Reconcile


But when he was still a great way off, 
his father saw him and had compassion, 
and ran and fell on his neck and kissed him. 
Luke 15:20

Picture yourself as the father of this prodigal son.

Months, maybe even years ago, he had suddenly demanded his inheritance. It pained you to grant his request, but you obliged, and gave it not only to him, but to his older brother also.

It has been a heartbreaking time because of this breach between you. The pain that you have felt far outweighs any fleeting spells of anger. You’ve tried your best to make life as normal as possible, but that nagging image of him walking away, creating an ever widening gulf, has never been far from your mind.

Then one day as you stand outside you see a small cloud of dust on the path in the distance. You know that someone is coming to your house, though you can’t quite tell who it is. But then as you look closer you recognize the shape of that body. You have never forgotten that unmistakable walk, even though it’s much slower than the last time you saw it. It’s him!!

Forgetting your advancing years you take off in full gallop to meet him, willing your aging legs to move faster, and ignoring the protesting pains in your body. You are undaunted by the stares of neighbors and servants who are all witnessing this scene, and wondering if you will once again be subjected to another public humiliation.

As you finally reach him you gather him into your arms and kiss him over and over again, tears of joy streaming down your face. You’re oblivious to the dirt and sweat that cake his unwashed body. It doesn’t even dawn on you to consider what his reaction would be. All you know is that you’re together again.

THE FATHER'S LOVE
This father had every right to be hurt and angry. He had suffered because of his son’s words and actions. Yet his reaction to his son’s return can only be described in one way – love without restraint. He didn’t wait for an explanation, an excuse or an apology. He made the first move in repairing the breach. He ran to reconcile.

Can you picture our Heavenly Father doing the same with you? Without hesitation He draws you into Himself and offers you all that is His. His servants - the angelic host in heaven - break out in an impromptu party because you have come home! To the Father your motive for turning to Him does not matter. He knows that His unconditional love covers a multitude of your sins, and that in His presence there is healing, restoration, forgiveness, peace and joy.

Hatred stirs up strife, but love covers all sins. Proverbs 10:12
Likewise, I say to you, there is joy in the presence of the angels of God over one sinner who repents. Luke 15:10

There is no doubt that this father would have been tremendously hurt because of his son’s actions. He suffered...
  • heartbreak
  • disappointment
  • humiliation
  • unmet expectations
  • financial loss
  • loss of contact
  • lovelessness
  • the son's indifference to his feelings and welfare
  • unanswered questions
  • abandonment

Yet this man disregarded his anguish and ran to reconcile with his son.

The action the father took was as much for himself as it was for the son. In reaching out to the prodigal the father set his own life on a course of healing and restoration. He knew that he would not be whole unless he reconciled with the very one who caused him so much pain.

MY TESTIMONY
Years ago there was a person who had caused me tremendous emotional pain, and for a long time I walked around with very silent, very subtle resentment and bitterness towards this individual. I thought that as long as we stayed clear of each other and I wasn't reminded of the offense, then all was well. I was a leader in the church, yet I was unaware that this breach had actually caused a domino effect.

One day the Holy Spirit convicted me, and I picked up the phone, called and forgave this person, saying that as of that moment it was as if the offense had never occurred....and I meant it. Mind you, I could only have done this with the help of the Holy Spirit Himself!

After that conversation I literally felt a weight lift from me – a weight that I never knew I had been carrying all along. I also hadn’t realized that the resentment that I had been harboring had affected those around me. This bitterness had spread like a cancer, affecting other relationships in my life. That was the domino effect! But once I repaired the breach those relationships improved also.

OFFENSES WILL COME
I’m sure that like me, someone has caused you pain by their words and/or actions. As long as we are in this world offenses will come (Luke 17:1). Maybe even now, as you read this article, the situation is yet unresolved. Can you relate to some of the suffering that the father endured?

Sometimes you and I are the ones who commit the offense. At that time guilt, embarrassment, rationalization and fear may tempt you to do nothing, and pretend that all is well. But the Lord still requires that you obey His Word.

IT'S A TEST
Your reaction to a breach in a relationship is actually a test of your love for the Lord, not just for the individual you’re at odds with. Jesus said that if you love Him you will obey His commandments.

Jesus answered and said to him, “If anyone loves Me, he will keep My word; and My Father will love him, and We will come to him and make Our home with him. He who does not love Me does not keep My words… John 14:23-24a


Therefore if you bring your gift to the altar, and there remember that your brother has something against you, leave your gift there before the altar, and go your way. First be reconciled to your brother, and then come and offer your gift. Matthew 5:23, 24

For if you forgive men their trespasses, your heavenly Father will also forgive you. But if you do not forgive men their trespasses, neither will your Father forgive your trespasses. Matthew 5:14-15

Now all things are of God, who has reconciled us to Himself through Jesus Christ, and has given us the ministry of reconciliation 2 Corinthians 5:18

WHY RUN?
This father didn’t walk slowly, he didn’t hesitate, nor did he stop in mid stride. He ran and kept on running until he reached his target. Why run?

In the natural running bridges a gap quickly. It allows you to get from your starting point to your destination with speed. In a race, the fastest runner claims the prize. Think about it…………you hardly ever see a lazy runner! Runners usually have a goal to reach and they focus on their target. This father was serious about reaching his goal, so he ran!

The same is true in the spiritual. Running to reconcile with someone is an indication that you are serious about  obeying God’s command. It also prevents the enemy from stepping in and doing further damage to the relationship. It's hard for satan to hit a fast moving target!

In hurrying toward his prodigal son the father outran his own personal hurt. He outran the spirits of doubt, accusation, anger, resentment, bitterness and unforgiveness that would have hindered him had he lingered.

I pray that as you listen to the song below, it will inspire you to
run to reconcile!

10 comments:

  1. Thank you for a beautiful and meaningful post. Have a blessed weekend. I enjoyed the video.

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  2. Our minister just did a sermon about this last week,he even had the same picture.
    Blessings,
    Ginger

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  3. I have always loved the example of this story of the prodigal son. There is someone I need to tell that I forgive, and I will. Bless you. xx

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  4. Hi Audrey,

    Thank you for sharing this continuing topic. I find your words ring with expressions of faith and hope. Forgiveness is an action not just for the one who offends, but for the offended as well. I grow through my obedience to obey God's command to forgive.

    I am learning the joy that comes from lessons in forgiveness. Realizing that I have been forgiven is teaching me that I can do no less; I choose to extend the grace I have received.

    Blessings and peace.

    MTJ

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  5. Precious sister in Christ, thank you for posting this call to love like the Father, forgiving. I'm encouraged. There is a prodigal I'm praying for and it is so hard to love him right now!

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  6. This is such an important lesson. I love the prodigal son story. I love the story of Joseph and how he forgave. I think everyone who has lived for any length of time will find they need these lessons. Thank you for sharing with us.
    Blessings,
    Charlotte

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  7. "love covers all sins." What you said here I think is right b/c it's a higher plane...different than what most believe. No revenge...no paybacks....thanks for posting this...Have a great weekend.

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  8. oops! Thought I had posted a comment but must have missed signing the moderation.
    I like this picture of the father--open arms of love and forgiveness. And the son's heart of repentance as described in the Scripture.
    However, when it comes to forgiving each other we are called to do so without waiting for the other person to have a repentant heart.After all Jesus did die for us while we were still sinners.
    Thank you for reminding us of the love, peace, and freedom forgiveness brings.
    Janis

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  9. Holding a grudge only hurts the one holding the grudge. Forgiveness is liberating both body and mind. I've seen people eaten up with resentment and unforgiveness and while they say they know they should forgive, they won't because they insist that retribution be dealt out to that one who hurt them. I'm sure glad Jesus Christ didn't have that attitude. God bless, Dr. Bobbi

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