We had lunch today at my mom’s with my little brother and his family. His youngest is a boy almost a year old, and that little fellow might be the happiest baby I’ve ever known. He greets anyone who comes into his line of sight with delight and smiles with his whole body. He’s quite irresistible.
As we were taking our farewell, my husband walked over to the play pen to give a final wave. My sister-in-law was standing by, and just as my husband made eye contact with the little man, she tossed a small plush toy into the pen which landed squarely on his nose. Needless to say, there were quick tears and a surprised cry of hurt, and then a glare at my husband as if to say, “And I thought you were going to be nice. How could you?” The momma rapidly scooped him up and tried to console and explain that it wasn’t Uncle’s fault. The small round frowning face and piercing eyes clearly did not believe it and was determined to hold onto the shocking betrayal. It took my husband some few minutes to repair the damage, but eventually he received a smile of forgiveness. We were all greatly relieved.
Sometimes in life, we find ourselves having to repair a bridge that someone else burned. We have to be willing to take responsibility for the restoration of something we did not ruin. This is an impossible thing to do when pride and ego get in the way of compassion. In fact, it is only truly possible in the power and strength of the love of God. His love is greater and stronger than any hurt, any wound, any cruelty. “Earth has no sorrow that heaven can’t heal.” (lyric from Come as You are, by David Crowder)
For God so loved the world that He gave His only Son. This Son who knew no sin, who is entirely holy and blameless, willingly gave His life for the Sin of the whole world. He bore the burden of it. He took on the responsibility, because of His love for the Father, to defeat death and conquer the grave, so that we would not have to bear the wrath of God. He is the bridge on whom we cross over into the family of God.
There is a reason why Jesus summed up the Ten Commandments in this way: “Jesus said to him, “‘You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, with all your soul, and with all your mind.’ This is the first and great commandment. And the second is like it: ‘You shall love your neighbor as yourself.’” (Matthew 22:37-39 NKJV) It is impossible to love others unconditionally (that is without any strings or agenda) unless you first love God with all of you. It is impossible to forgive others unless you first receive unconditionally (without striving to earn) His love and forgiveness.
Are there any bridges in your relationships, past or present, that have been burned? Maybe they were burned by you. Maybe they were burned by another. What might the Lord be saying to you regarding your responsibility to lean into the love of God and let that love burn bright enough to forge a new one?
Our God is greater and stronger than any thing we will encounter in this life. He is worthy of all our heart, mind, soul and strength. And, from our secure place in His heart and in His family, we learn how to demonstrate His love and care in scandalous ways. Ways that are counter to our human ego, counter to our culture, and counter to our rationale. He is the Way, the Truth, and the Life. Amen.
Until next week, beloved, come to the One who gave everything so you could.