Thursday, January 29, 2009
Current Study: Reconciliation
Today’s Topic: Reconciliation Brings Restoration
Jeremiah 33:10-11 This is what the LORD says: ‘You say about this place, “It is a desolate waste, without men or animals.” Yet in the towns of Judah and the streets of Jerusalem that are deserted, inhabited by neither men nor animals, there will be heard once more the sounds of joy and gladness, the voices of bride and bridegroom, and the voices of those who bring thank offerings to the house of the LORD, saying, “Give thanks to the LORD Almighty, for the LORD is good; his love endures forever.” For I will restore the fortunes of the land as they were before,’ says the LORD.
When I was born out in Pennsylvania almost 56 years ago, my mom and dad were missionaries with the American Sunday School Union. They had very little in the way of possessions. Mom wanted a rocking chair so she could snuggle and cuddle with her precious first born son. One of the farm families they knew from their missionary work told Dad that there was an old rocking chair up in the hay loft of the barn. They could have it if they wanted it. Dad climbed up and got it, took it home, cleaned it up, and put a new cushion cover on it. It was an old chair, and had no arm rests. It couldn’t have been very comfortable for mom as she supported the head of her baby with nothing to support her arm. But every child she had was rocked in that chair. When I was in high school I remember my grandma who lived with us sitting in that chair as she read her Bible. That rocker had become a family heirloom.
As time went by, the chair got older and weaker. One of the small rails along side of the seat cushion snapped. One of the braces between the legs cracked. It was hard to see the chair not being used for its original intent because it was broken. It just sat in the room as a conversation piece, but had no real function. I asked if I could have it. My request was granted. At the time we were living in a community that was surrounded by farms owned by Amish craftsmen. I took the chair to one of them and asked if it could be restored to useable condition. The hardest part would be duplicating the curves in the original side rails. He said he would do his best.
When we got the chair back it was beautiful. Every detail of the original had been duplicated. The cut, curves, and grain of the wood matched perfectly. I decided to put the chair to the ultimate test – I sat in it. There were no creaks any more. It rocked. I mean it literally rocked. Living right next door to us at the time was an antique dealer. I took the chair over to him and asked him to appraise it for me. He looked it over carefully. He noticed it had been restored, but only thought it had been refinished. He was not able to see the new parts that were put on the chair. He offered me $300 for it. I refused, and then told him the truth about the restoration. He didn’t care. He still wanted the chair.
I still have that rocker. I even sit in it every once in a while. Most of the time it rests in our guest bedroom which is our family heritage room. But that chair is more than just an heirloom – it has a new significance to me today. I see it now as an illustration of reconciliation. If you’ve been following closely this week you will notice that there have been four aspects of reconciliation we have discussed.
§ Reaching Out
Each one of those “R’s” applies to my rocker. I took personal responsibility for its condition. As a teen ager I may or may not have been the one who was actually sitting in it when the leg brace cracked, but I certainly did sit in it a lot, so I certainly was responsible. When I saw it was deteriorating and in some regards broken, I reached out to fix it. When I took it to the Amish craftsman I had to confess to him everything that was wrong with the chair so he could repair it all. I was willing to watch the chair be changed, and I was even willing to be changed if he told me that the chair was not repairable. Repentance requires change. When the chair was repaired, it was restored to its original function. In fact, after the restoration, the chair had greater value than before.
That’s reconciliation – taking responsibility for what is broken, reaching out in repentance, and restoring it so that it not only functions again but has greater value than before. That’s how Jeremiah describes it when he relates to us the LORD’s words – “If you repent, I will restore you that you may serve me.” Reconciled relationships are restored relationships that bring honor to God.
Does your life seem to be a desolate waste, filled with broken things? Does it feel like you’ve fallen off your rocker. Let the words of the LORD encourage you – In the places that are deserted there will be heard once more the sounds of joy and gladness, the voices of bride and bridegroom, and the voices of those who bring thank offerings to the house of the LORD, saying, “Give thanks to the LORD Almighty, for the LORD is good; his love endures forever.” For I will restore the fortunes of the land as they were before. Reconciliation brings restoration. Restoration brings rejoicing. Your relationships can be restored, and they will rock! Get started today.