Can I be honest, Friend? I don’t want to wash feet. I don’t want to love my enemies. And I definitely don’t want to pick up my cross. That stuff is hard. When I think about following Jesus on a surface level, showing up at church on Sundays, tithing regularly, singing a praise song or two, and memorizing a few scriptures, Christianity seems manageable, even enjoyable. But if I am going to follow the Jesus of the Bible, the real Jesus, that requires a whole different level of commitment.
A few years ago, I was hurt by a friend, someone I loved and trusted a great deal. While I understood why she acted the way she did, I allowed my hurt to overshadow the fact that she apologized right away and reached out over and over again for a year before finally giving up due to my unanswered phone calls and icy reception at any event we found ourselves mutually attending. I was grateful when she ceased “bothering me.” I was a brat, plain and simple.
But we all know how God works, right? This morning, I was up cleaning out my personal email inbox, and there was a brief email exchange between my former friend and me. Nothing earth shattering or heart felt, just a “here-you-go” and “thanks” sort of exchange. I was convicted in that moment to ask for forgiveness.
But we all know how Satan works, too, right? He inundates our minds with seeds of doubt. I wrestled with ideas like “it’s been too long” and “it probably doesn’t even matter now.” Then the Holy Spirit jumped in, nudging me to reflect on the choices I’m making every day now to love those I have never liked (and who, quite frankly, have never liked me). If I can choose to extend a supportive and merciful hand to them, why can’t I admit that I have wronged someone I loved like a sister?
For several weeks, I have been asking that God remind me every time I felt anxiety or dread that He is near. I have requested that fear not paralyze me into inaction or bad behavior. I have prayed that for every time I perceive something as a “warning” due to my own lack of courage that God reminds me that this is an “opportunity” to glorify Him.
I thought about Isaiah, who volunteered to go and be God’s messenger. The mission was not fun. He wasn’t told to go and become a famous musician, giving back millions of dollars to fund Christian charities. He wasn’t told to write best selling books, donating a portion of the proceeds to starving children around the world. Nope. Do you know what God told him? “Go and preach your heart out to people who won’t listen or change their ways!” When Isaiah asked God how long he would have to do this, God told him, “Until the cities lie ruined and without inhabitant…” (Isaiah 6: 11, NKJV). Sheesh! How willing would I have been to “go” like that? But that’s the point, Friend. We are each called to “go,” and God thoroughly equips us all if we are going in His will. And sometimes we are called to go when we have done wrong and must swallow our pride to stand in alignment with God’s righteousness.
There is hope, Friend, even when the going isn’t pleasant or easy. God told Isaiah that there would be a tenth, a remnant, who would remain. While that seems like a little to our ears, remember how God works with little. He formed man from dust and spittle. He said that faith the size of a mustard seed can move mountains. I am hopeful, too, this morning. God’s faithfulness and patience has given me this chance to apologize. Perhaps my former friend and I will restore our relationship. Perhaps we won’t. But I see the gift of God’s restraint with me, and I pray that I never again do to another what I did to her. God never treated me that way!
“He has not dealt with us according to our sins, nor punished us according to our iniquities.” (Psalm 103: 10, NKJV)