Recently, I posted about not holding on to material things too tightly. Some day we will lose everything and everyone we love. The day of that post, someone I loved, who I had a falling out with, passed away.
One time while traveling, I wanted to visit a friend I didn’t see often. I called him multiple times but no one answered. I went to his house and knocked for maybe 10 minutes, seeing the car outside and hearing the TV on. Still no answer. What would you have thought?
I tried to assume the best, “Maybe they were busy. Hopefully I’ll see them next time.”
When I got home, I received a message, saying they were hurt that I didn’t visit them, asking why I turned my back on them and chose sides regarding some family dispute. I was stunned, but didn’t give up. I replied, explaining I had called them, went to their house, still wanted to see them again, and that I loved them. I had reached out, then waited for their response. It never came. Whatever the reason, they never tried to contact me. I never talked to them again. So I forgave them and left them in God’s hands.
Recently, I also had a falling out with a friend who asked me for accountability with a situation he was in. I read, I prayed, I sought advice. I wanted to be so gentle. Eventually he actually claimed I waited too long to ask him about it, but then later that I was too overbearing. What? In Romans, Paul talks about people’s conflicting thoughts first accusing them, then defending them. This friend eventually said he felt he knew what God was telling him to do, continued pursuing what he had previously asked for accountability with, and said he didn’t feel love from me.
1 Peter 3:17 says, “For it is better, if God should will it so, that you suffer for doing what is right, rather than for doing what is wrong.”
Those situations hurt, but were some of the best things to happen to me. They made me read and pray daily, crying out, “God what do I do now?” Again, I forgave, let him go, and turned to God.
In Acts 7, Stephen was trying to convince some Jews to repent from crucifying Jesus, and instead see that Jesus was who He claimed to be. (They expected Him to come on the scene with pomp and glory, instead He came humbly. Eventually, he would be abandoned by even his disciples, and killed by those he came for. Can you imagine? If anyone knows betrayal or understands your pain, it is Jesus.) Then Stephen actually saw a vision of Jesus, just before they took him out of the city and stoned him. Before he died, he cried out, “Lord, do not charge them with this sin.”
In Luke 23:24, Jesus similarly said, “Father forgive them for they know not what they are doing.”
My mother in law reminded me of a verse, “He was… forsaken of men… and like one from whom men hide their face He was despised, and we did not esteem him.” Have you had someone you love, seem to avoid or even despise you?
It goes on to say, “But He was pierced for our transgressions, He was crushed for our iniquities.” C.S. Lewis said Jesus was either a liar, a lunatic, or He was who He said He was. He could not have been anything else. He claimed to be God. That is either a lie, crazy, or true. And if it wasn’t true, then He wasn’t even just some good guy, since he was lying. If you believe He was who he said He was, then you can be forgiven for anything, and have a relationship with God who will never leave you. That should completely change your life.
I’m not being treated as bad as Stephen, but as he was able to see a vision of Jesus, I have never known God as deeply, as when those I love reject me. It is so very bittersweet and humbling.
No matter what someone has done, we should look forward to God working in them and bringing reconciliation, as he forgives us when we admit our sin. Even in the story of the prodigal son, the dad let the son go. But when the son returned, the dad ran to hug him. God is waiting to do that with each of us, if we turn to him, and we should be having faith that it is possible to do that with those we love.
People say the most important thing in life is family. I don’t believe that. I’m not saying they aren’t important. I want to talk with and encourage, and be encouraged by people I love, all the time. But there are times when even those we love don’t want us. Still, even if we go through life without any relationship problems, we will lose them some day.
“Do not store up for yourselves treasures on earth,” applies also to people we love. I love Jen, but even we will not be married after death. That is why we try to ensure that our relationships with God are not built around our relationship with each other.
I hope that I and people reading this will see that nothing is more valuable than our relationship with God. Can you seriously say that you have joy in all circumstances? What do you value? Where does your joy come from? How long will that last? Value a relationship with God above all else. That will give you so much joy. People will not understand how you are able to have joy even in difficult circumstances, then you can share that joy and love with others.
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