The word "reconciliation" brings to my mind an experience I had several years ago as my husband and I were entering into full time ministry with the SA, assigned to plant a corps in a developing area. We were already employees with the Army, living in and paying rent on a property normally used as housing for employees who were new to the area. It was obvious there had never been upgrades made to the house. After years of tenant use and abuse, it was in a very dilapidated state. However, being new to the work, and only renters, we didn’t feel entitled to ask for any improvements to be made.
A few years later, as we were leaving that division to launch into our new assignment as Envoys, we received a scathing letter from the newly appointed DC regarding the condition of the quarters we had just vacated, saying, among other things, that it was “uninhabitable” (ouch)! The newly appointed corps officer, who we knew by reputation, respected, and looked forward to meeting, also joined in this accusation. We had taken pains to ensure that the house was found in better condition when we left than when we first arrived. Friends from the corps came to help us move and clean up, and attested to the fact that it was left spotless. Unfortunately, there was little anyone could do about the condition due to age and normal wear and tear. . We learned later that plans were already in the process of being made to move new Lieutenants into the house, so in the end the house was renovated to standards that SA officers would find more acceptable.
Shortly after this painful parting from that division, I was selected as a delegate to an interdenominational Prayer Conference. The speakers were all topnotch Christian leaders from all over the world. The speaker who impressed me most was Nancy Lee DeMoss, who spoke of our need to forgive in order to obtain forgiveness, and to be used by God in our ministries. A list was passed out comparing “Proud People” with “Broken People”, which we were given time to read and pray over.
We were then asked to move into circles of a dozen, in a room packed with hundreds of people. There were a few other SA delegates in that crowd, and everyone quickly moved randomly around, seeking a group to join. As the group of strangers around me began to gather together, I was glad to see a long time officer friend join our group. Just as the prayer session was about to begin, those who hadn’t yet found a group, did so. I saw another officer join our group, and lo and behold, it was the same corps officer who had recently joined in those hurtful accusations against my husband and me, and who I had been harboring resentment against…what was God doing? By the look of shock on the officer’s face, I saw he hadn’t been aware that I was in the group until that moment, but it was too late to do anything about it…the prayer session was starting.
Our groups were told to first pray individually, asking the Lord to examine our hearts and show us where we needed to be forgiven, and to whom we needed to show forgiveness. All I could think of was No. 25 on the list that Nancy DeMoss gave us, which stated:
“Proud People…wait for the other to come and ask forgiveness when there is a misunderstanding or conflict in relationships.
Broken People…take the initiative to be reconciled when there is a misunderstanding or a conflict in relationships; they race to the cross; they see if they can get there first, no matter how wrong the other may have been.”
When we were then asked to pray together in our groups, I felt the presence of the Lord so strongly, urging me to pray. Although I tried to fight it, I finally opened my mouth and prayed, first, thanking the Lord for bringing me to the conference to make me aware of my own brokenness and unforgiving spirit, which I had been unaware of.
I then thanked Him for bringing into that group the person against whom I had been harboring resentment. Before I could go on, all of a sudden that officer grabbed my hand and began praying, asking the Lord for forgiveness. It was as if a dam had burst, so much came tumbling out, and I knew that officer hadn’t realized the situation he had stepped into when he first came onto that scene that caused us such hurt.
When the prayer session broke up, we had a brief opportunity to converse and again make amends. I felt as if a heavy weight had been lifted off my shoulders. Everyone around us was pretty stunned, not really knowing what had just taken place…and nobody dared ask. However, we knew it was a miracle that only God could have orchestrated, bringing people together in order to provide healing so His work could be accomplished…especially at the beginning of the new ventures the Lord had brought all of us to. My husband was amazed when I told him what had happened, and it was a healing for him as well. I cannot speak for the other officer, as we never saw each other again, but God taught me a lesson in reconciliation – to forgive even when I do not feel like it, or when the other person does not ask it of me.
“Merciful God, who didst send thy messengers the prophets to preach repentance and prepare the way for our salvation: Give us grace to heed their warnings and forsake our sins, that we may greet with joy the coming of Jesus Christ our Redeemer, who livith and reigneth with thee and the Holy Spirit, one God, now and for ever. Amen. (Book of Common Prayer, Second Sunday of Advent).”
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