reconcile :: to restore to friendship or harmony
In the Spring of 2008, I was able to sit in on an incredible documentary about Rwanda, called as we forgive. For around 100 days in 1994, Rwanda experienced extreme genocide. There is not an official count of those that lost their lives, however it is estimated that between 500,000 to 1,000,000 people were killed. That's over 20% of the population at that time. What was so unreal about this genocide is that families, neighbors, friends were turning against one another. Killing one another.
The documentary was about what was going on years after genocide. Thousands of citizens had been arrested for participating in the Rwandan Genocide. In order to free up space in the prisons, the government brought about a policy that if families forgave those that murdered their loved ones, they could be freed from prison. The documentary followed 3-5 people that either chose to forgive those that had brought them harm and heartache or those that decided they couldn't do it.
It was an incredible and powerful story. Many of these women and men chose to forgive. Obviously, I was moved by it, and I left wondering if I would be willing to do the same. And in my heart of hearts, I really don't know if I would. I would hope that I could... but I just don't know. Hopefully, I will never be faced with that...
But, the TRUTH is that we are called for forgive... to reconcile. Why? Because God sent His Son, Jesus, to reconcile us because of our sin. He paid a price for our sin. He took on God's wrath for us so we could experience true reconciliation... see definition above.
The Ministry of Reconciliation - 2 Corinthians 5:11-21
Therefore, knowing the fear of the Lord, we persuade others. But what we are is known to God, and I hope it is known also to your conscience. We are not commending ourselves to you again but giving you cause to boast about us, so that you may be able to answer those who boast about outward appearance and not about what is in the heart. For if we are beside ourselves, it is for God; if we are in our right mind, it is for you. For the love of Christ controls us, because we have concluded this: that one has died for all, therefore all have died; and he died for all, that those who live might no longer live for themselves but for him who for their sake died and was raised. From now on, therefore, we regard no one according to the flesh. Even though we once regarded Christ according to the flesh, we regard him thus no longer. Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation. The old has passed away; behold, the new has come. All this is from God, who through Christ reconciled us to himself and gave us the ministry of reconciliation; that is, in Christ God was reconciling the world to himself, not counting their trespasses against them, and entrusting to us the message of reconciliation. Therefore, we are ambassadors for Christ, God making his appeal through us. We implore you on behalf of Christ, be reconciled to God. For our sake he made him to be sin who knew no sin, so that in him we might become the righteousness of God.
I don't know if there is any family that doesn't have some sort of drama. If there is such a family, they should write a book. And then prove it. Until then, I'm going to believe that every family has drama.
It's not my place to disclose the unfortunate drama that has been in my family for a very long time. But, I can sum it up to one word: hurt. The drama has existed because people hurt and hurt one another.
Seven months after I saw the Rwandan documentary, I started praying for reconciliation for my family. There was definitely a level of unbelief in my prayer, but I couldn't help but think of Rwanda when I was tossing up that "idea" to God. I didn't pray this prayer everyday, every week or even every month for that matter... but I did pray it. And, I knew that God was hearing me... regardless of my sometimes doubtful heart.
In March of this year, I felt the Lord urging me to reach out to my estranged family member. What happened next can ONLY be pointed back to God. After a few very honest, sometimes tear-generating emails, I had reconnected with someone I was once close to as a child. I knew that, and I still know that my reaching out to her could potentially make other family members angry with me. But, my answer will and will always be that I am led to forgive, to reconcile, to love... because that's what Jesus has called me to do.
Yesterday, I got a text message from this family member. I could read her excitement. She had just gone to see another member of our family... and it "went really well!" You see, I was so young when all of this went down that I ended up being more of an innocent bystander. But, she went to visit someone that was in the mix of it all... so this was a HUGE deal. I don't know what all was said, but I know that tears, forgiveness, understanding, even hugs happened. And God has received every OUNCE of the glory from these overjoyed hearts!
There's still more family. It may never get past the few of us. But, I'm okay with whatever God has in store. I have seen with my own eyes that he does bring about true reconciliation in our lives.
If you're still reading, I encourage you to boldly pray for reconciliation in your own life. If not in your life, then you're friend's or family's. God is BIG. He is SOVEREIGN over ALL things. Even the things we put in the back of our minds and hearts... things that we have accepted that it's "just the way it's going to be."