The woman on the phone was crying so hard I could barely understand her.
“You warned me,” she said over and over. “But I didn’t listen, and now it’s too late.”
“To late for what?” I asked when she paused to take a breath. “When did I warn you? Why is it too late?”
“You spoke at our church last weekend,” she responded. “You were teaching on Matthew 5:23-24, reminding us that Jesus commands us not to put off reconciliation. You said we should go today because tomorrow might be too late.”
“But I didn’t listen,” she went on. “And now it’s too late. I knew I should call my sister. We haven’t spoken in five years. I knew that’s who God wanted me to call.”
She choked up for a few moments, unable to speak. Then she blurted out the terrible news.
“But now it’s too late. She was killed in a car accident last night. And I’ll never be able to ask her forgiveness or tell her I forgive her.”
When It’s Too Late, It’s Too Late
There were limits to how much I could comfort her. Both she and her sister professed to be Christians, so there was hope for reunion in heaven. We talked about the gospel and the promise of God’s forgiveness for her sins. We also discussed how she could forgive her sister in her heart and let go of the bitterness she had held onto for years.
As helpful as these discussions were, they did not erase the deep pain she felt for not reaching out to her sister while they were both still alive. It was too late to experience complete reconciliation this side of heaven.
Is There Someone You Should Call?
What about you? Is there someone you should call or go to today to seek reconciliation? A parent, a sister, a brother? A former friend or coworker with whom you had an argument long ago and haven’t spoken to in years?
Someone whom God has brought to mind again and again, but you’ve refused to pursue?
Don’t wait. Do it today. Pick up the phone. Write a letter—not an email and certainly not a text!
Better yet, go and meet face to face, just as Jesus commands (Matt. 5:23-24).
Most People Long for Reconciliation
There’s no guarantee the other person will respond as you hope, but you’ll never know unless you try.
And the fact is that if God has placed someone on your heart, that person could be longing for reconciliation as well.
This mutual longing to restore a broken relationship is vividly illustrated in October Sky, a movie based on the real life story of Homer Hickam. Homer was a coal miner’s son who was inspired by the launch of Sputnik 1 in 1957 to take up rocketry. In doing so, he rejected his father’s wish that he follow in his steps as a foreman in the mines. As a result, their relationship was badly damaged.
But when Homer faced an overwhelming crisis, his father made a great personal sacrifice to help him win a national science fair. As a result, Homer received a college scholarship and earned a meeting with Dr. Wernher Von Braun, the father of modern rocketry.
When Homer returned home, he tried to reach out to his father, as this poignant scene shows. Watch carefully and you’ll see how difficult it is to repair the deep hurts of mutual rejection. (If a video screen does not appear below, click here.)
What did you see? A boy celebrating a great achievement and longing to share it with his father? A father putting up walls because he not only felt rejected but also jealous of the famous man who had inspired his son? A boy still trying unsuccessfully to bond with his father?
All too many relationships end this way. But it’s not inevitable, as the final scene in this movie illustrates. (If a video screen does not appear below, click here.)
The climax of this movie is not the flawless launch of a rocket. Nor is it a meeting with a famous scientist, a full-ride scholarship, or Homer’s eventual career with NASA.
The climax to this story, like all great stories, is entirely relational. It’s a son making himself vulnerable by asking his father to affirm his dreams. It’s a father conquering his own hurt, jealousy, and fear to support his son. It’s a son choking up when he sees his dad in the crowd and then walking toward him with a boyish smile to invite him to launch the rocket.
But the ultimate climax is a father overcoming his natural inhibitions, as well as the mistakes and pains of the past, putting his arm around his son, looking him tenderly in the eye, and sending the wordless message, “I’m sorry for rejecting you; I was wrong. Let’s put it behind us and build a new relationship.”
Ask God if there’s someone he wants you to go to in order to seek this kind of reconciliation. If he puts someone on your heart, go today, before it’s too late, asking God to give you the same kind of courage and love that moved Jesus to come into this world to secure your reconciliation with God (Rom. 5:8).
– Ken Sande
- The gospel of Christ is the greatest example the world has ever seen of someone reaching out and making himself completely vulnerable in order to achieve reconciliation Col. 1:19-22). How can the gospel inspire you to follow Jesus’ example? (see Col. 3:12-15; Phil. 2:1-11)
- Is there someone with whom you believe God wants you to be reconciled? How can you draw on the example of Homer and his father, and, more importantly, the example and power of Christ, to seek reconciliation? (Matt. 5:23-24; Rom. 5:8; Eph. 4:1-3)
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© 2017 Ken Sande
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