Like water spilled on the ground, which cannot be recovered, so we must die. But God does not take away life; instead, he devises ways so that a banished person may not remain estranged from him.” 2 Samuel 14
I was happy to speak to a great “audience” on Sunday at the Madison Street Church. One of their great gifts to the world is to accept someone as they are and envelope them in their long love for each other. I was happy to have been there at the beginning of that love and to still be included, though living far from the wind-swept skies of California.
I had a great weekend. The weather was spectacular; the celebration was moving; the time for renewed friendship was precious. But lurking in the background of the joy and love was the pain and losses of long lives, long loves and long mission. The same background was threaded through the scripture I used for my Sunday message. I am still pondering the reality.
I am especially interested in how hard it was for David to let go of his losses and let Absalom return to the kingdom. He lost the integrity of his family when his son Amnon raped his half-sister Tamar. He lost his son Amnon to murder. He lost his son Absalom to banishment. He would not let go of his losses and let Absalom return, even though his holding on to them created new loss, as he continually mourned the absence of his son.
Do you unconsciously hold on to your loss, sometimes, like I do? It is like we feel it would be unjust of us to not hold on to the losses we carry – the lost virginity, the lost integrity, the lost love, the lost health, the lost opportunity, the lost years. We own our losses them like they form our identity. Our lives can be so threaded with what we’ve lost, the feelings twine around our hearts and strangle us.
I am especially thinking about the lost friendships that weigh on us. I was in my home town this weekend and I couldn’t help but feel sorry about the dear friends of our youth that we couldn’t even locate anymore. And I couldn’t help but hear about the losses incurred among families and between parents and children. The scripture above implies that such feelings are inevitable, since we are like spilled water on the ground. What has happened has happened. Our life is moving to death, so every day has some death in it.
But since we have God on our side we have life to hold on to. I have often experienced him breaking the hold of loss on me that I am holding on to. We know so well that in Jesus God brings us eternal life. Grasping that in the middle of our dying is the secret to our joy in Christ, isn’t it? Especially when it comes to the losses we experience in our relationships, we really need to go with God’s eternal strategy and devise ways for loves that can be renewed to be renewed. If the banished can return, we need to help with the process, not just mourn. God has gone to great lengths to reverse my self-banishment. I need to follow his example. Whether I have been so hurt I banished someone, or I hurt someone so badly they banished themselves, or whether we were both just stupid and we got unwittingly banished, I need to devise a way to reconciliation. What’s more, for all the people who are self-banished from God, I need to work with Jesus on God’s great plan for reconciliation.
It is a season of reconciliation among the Circle of Hope. I have been glad to see hearts softening and banishments ended. I doubt we will get it all done during Lent. Some people have been driven far away from us and from God. Some devices will be hard to invent and harder to implement. It could take years. But if we are close to the heart of God, I don’t see how own hearts would become adept at much that is better than strategizing for reconciliation.