My big brother died three days ago.
Steve was diagnosed with cancer in 1999 and was told he had only a year to live. Not willing to leave his family so soon, he fought this enemy to a standstill for fourteen years, thanking God for every extra day he enjoyed with those he loved.
But God called him out of the battle Friday morning. If he had done it with a written commendation, it might have read like this …
“Well done, my good and faithful servant. You’ve fought hard. You’ve persevered. You’ve worshiped me in the midst of suffering and trusted me even when my purposes were not clear. You’ve left no relationship unreconciled, no person doubting your forgiveness and love. You’ve finished your race, now come to your Master’s side and receive your reward.”
I was probably the last person whom my brother sought out for reconciliation.
Last Sunday, we had our only conflict in decades. Because of his declining health, I had appealed to him to give up driving. As a Montana cowboy, it was a hard thing for him to hear, so he reacted with some uncharacteristically sharp words. We parted that night with an unusual gap between us.
But early the next morning, Steve called me to heal the breach. He apologized for his reaction, thanked me for my concern, and agreed to give up the keys to his pickup truck. I told him I was sorry for hurting him with my request, and I affirmed my deep love and respect for him. By God’s grace, the gap was completely closed.
On Wednesday we enjoyed a warm conversation, reminiscing and laughing about our childhood together. I hugged him as I left his home that night, confident I would see him again when I returned from a trip today. But Friday he was gone.
I am so deeply, deeply grateful that we parted on such good terms. No bitterness, no unconfessed or unforgiven wrongs, no gap whatsoever in our relationship.
I urge you to do whatever is necessary to make sure you and those around you would have a similar peace if you were suddenly parted today.
Is there a gap to be closed? Please close it. Are there wrongs to admit? Please confess them. Is there something to forgive? Then cover it with the forgiveness of Christ. Are there words of praise, appreciation, and endearment yet to share? Don’t wait … say them today.
This small investment of humility, forgiveness and love will allow you to part in peace, whenever that time comes. It may be sooner than you think.
– Ken Sande
- Is there someone in your life whom you would regret not being reconciled to if you heard he had died last night? Don’t take a chance; go and be reconciled (Matt. 5:23-24).
- Is there someone whom you’ve wronged or hurt but have not yet gone to with words of confession? Don’t delay; find that person, admit your sin, and tell her how sorry you are (Prov. 28:13).
- Is there someone who wronged or hurt you and has yet to receive your forgiveness? Forgive today, as God in Christ has forgiven you (Eph. 4:31-32)
- Is there someone who has blessed you, encouraged you, served you, or inspired you, but never heard your words of appreciation? Speak them today, while you still have time (Heb. 10:24-25).
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© 2013 Ken Sande
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