15 November 2008

Repentance and Restoration

I was chatting with a friend of mine recently. She was vulnerable and said that she is heartsick over some broken friendships. She has tried to reach out to her friends to restore their relationship and seems to be being ignored. She feels disposable. I know this woman to be a solid believer and a great, loyal friend. It's hard for me to understand how another believer could ignore or become indifferent toward her. It is hard for me to understand how a believer can feign indifference to anyone who is reaching out to them for restoration.

Before I type much further, I need to lay some of my cards on the table. I do not know these other friends, nor the circumstances that lead to the conversation I had with my friend. The bible says that the first to tell their story seems right until you get the chance to talk to the other party. I am not judging whether or not there has been an offense. The bible also says when you answer before hearing you are a fool. I am not responding to the situation since I do not know the details. I am responding to my friend feeling disposable.

I do confess I wanted to react first. I wanted to get her to tell me who these friends are that are so careless and callous as to cause her, my friend, this suffering. I thought of several verses with which to bash them over the head and some unkind names to call them. God, in His mercy, restored me to a biblical way of thinking and I repented. I have been thinking about relationships and repentance ever since.

None of us get through life unscathed. We are hurt by those who claim to love us. We are disappointed by those we trust, we are abused by people in our inner and outer circles. Try as hard as we might not to, we also inflict pain on others. Most of the time we do it unaware but sometimes, if we are to be honest, we do it and enjoy it. In my sin I would have enjoyed telling my friend's friends what I thought of the way they are causing her pain. I would have thoroughly enjoyed making them squirm before I repented. So you see, I understand that we, all of us, are victims and perpetrators of fouling relationships and friendships.

What do we do when we have caused a rift in a friendship and the other party does not care to achieve restoration? Do we pursue restoration relentlessly until they are so tired blocking our attempts to contact them that they give in? No. I don't think so. Do we give it one shot and if they are not receptive shrug our shoulders, say "quel dommage" and forget about it? No, that doesn't seem biblical either.

Restoration requires repentance. Repentance for causing the rift, repentance for ignoring the attempts at restoration. Repentance is the key. I think we forget that repentance is also a gift. We cannot conjure it up for ourselves and we cannot cajole someone else into being repentant. We are thoroughly dependent upon God to grant us the gift of repentance. And so, we should pray first for our gift of repentance and then that our estranged friends, family, coworkers or acquaintances should be gifted with repentance as well. We can beseech God every moment of every day. We can pursue Him relentlessly. We should do that very thing on behalf of our broken relationships and our unsaved loved ones. Here's the tricky part. We should not grow impatient or frustrated when repentance does not come in our time frame. We can pour out our hearts to Him, telling Him how much it hurts and asking that He give us strength to stay the course and continue to pray and hope for restoration.

May it please the Lord to grant me the gift of repentance and the strength to pray for the repentance and restoration of those I love, first to You and then for us each to one another. May I never give a brother or sister in Christ nor any other soul a reason for them to feel I find them disposable.

II Thessalonians 3:13 But as for you, brethren, do not grow weary of doing good.

Psalm 27:13-14
13 {I would have despaired} unless I had believed that I would see the goodness of the LORD in the land of the living.
14 Wait for the LORD; be strong, and let your heart take courage; yes, wait for the LORD

Psalm 80:19 O LORD God of hosts, restore us; cause Thy face to shine {upon us,} and we will be saved.

Lamentations 5:21Restore us to Thee, O LORD, that we may be restored; renew our days as of old,

Colossians 3:12-17
12 And so, as those who have been chosen of God, holy and beloved, put on a heart of compassion, kindness, humility, gentleness and patience;
13 bearing with one another, and forgiving each other, whoever has a complaint against anyone; just as the Lord forgave you, so also should you.
14 And beyond all these things {put on} love, which is the perfect bond of unity.
15 And let the peace of Christ rule in your hearts, to which indeed you were called in one body; and be thankful.
16 Let the word of Christ richly dwell within you, with all wisdom teaching and admonishing one another with psalms {and} hymns {and} spiritual songs, singing with thankfulness in your hearts to God.
17 And whatever you do in word or deed, {do} all in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks through Him to God the Father.(NAS)

1 comment:

Carla said...

Excellent insight on such a complicated subject. Thank you for this post Rozie, it's exactly what I needed to read today.