Two weeks ago, I found myself driving to a destination I never imagined I would be heading towards. Two weeks ago, I sat and spoke with people I honestly never believed I would see, let alone speak with ever again. Two weeks ago, I sat in the home of my mom and dad and began the process of restoring our broken relationship. If you have read prior blogs, you know that I have shared my childhood was less than ideal. Secrets and pain compounded for years and reached a breaking point a couple years after I was married. The last time I saw my mom and dad was the spring of 2008 and the last time I spoke with them was a year ago, letting them know that my wife had cancer. Yet, a little over two weeks ago, I found myself sitting in church, knowing for certain that God was telling me to call home.
The pastor had been in the middle of his sermon when he abruptly stopped and shared what was on his heart – forgiveness. He shared the parable of the merciful servant; the king showing mercy, completely erasing the debt of the servant. Then, the forgiven servant finds his own servant, threatens his life, and has him thrown in prison for a lesser debt. Jesus explicitly calls the forgiven servant “wicked” for not having shown his own servant the same mercy he, himself, had been shown. I could not escape the truth that was penetrating my own heart, that night. I could list the disappointments, the hurts, the failures, and the unkind words, but God could do the same for me, couldn’t he? I could reason, “Well, they haven’t told me they are sorry for such and such…. They definitely haven’t shown they are sorry,” but again, God could do the same for me. He doesn’t of course. Instead, we read in the Bible that He forgets our sins as far as the east is from the west and he takes our offenses and he buries them in the depths of the sea. But me, no way! I have watered, fed, and freshened up their mistakes as often as I can. In this way, I could justify my anger and hurt, and make a perpetual display of why I felt they were undeserving of forgiveness. How ashamed I am to share that truth.
The entire drive home from church I heard in my heart, “What if I treated you the same way you treat your parents? What if I made forgiveness unreachable and didn’t speak to you until after you had reached the unreachable mark?” I couldn’t very well think that my parents had hurt me more than I had offended God. Why was His grace and forgiveness “easier” to receive than the process I was putting my own parents through? I knew I had to call and I did. Before I ever dialed home, I promised God I wouldn’t bring up the “why didn’t you?” and the “you know how you let me down?” statements. I spoke with them for two hours and asked if Felicity and I could make the two-hour drive to their home. Silence. They were not expecting that to come from my lips. I can’t say I was either! Just like the initial prodding to call, I believe there was Someone writing and directing the script for that phone call.
The afternoon Felicity and I spent with my mom and dad was the least stressful time I have ever spent with them. Felicity immediately shined up to my dad, and little things that once drove me crazy just seemed not to bother me any more. Now for the skeptics reading, I will promise you that nothing is perfect. There was no emotional moment, stirring strings in the background, with anyone sobbing and apologizing. This restoration, like all things, is a journey – perhaps a long journey. And there is without a doubt a huge difference between forgiveness and enabling. However, this was and is definitely a moment where the curtain was pulled and I learned just a little more of who God is really is and what He expects from me. You know, the night I got off the phone with my parents, I was in the laundry room folding clothes. I had this moment of, “Jaime would be furious with me. She would think I am enabling the pain of the past to continue. What have I done?” Then, my spirit was calmed as the reminder came and stilled my soul…”No way! Jaime understands this amazing grace so much more than she ever did! She would have dialed the number for you.” Isn’t this the truth! My wife is worshipping and enjoying eternity because God forgave her entire debt. I too…and so many others…will one day join the throng because our debt was wiped clear through the death and resurrection of Christ. This is why I called my mom and dad. This grace is why I went to my parent’s home and had dinner with them and invited them to my home and into their rightful place as Felicity’s grandparents. Here I thought His grace was just about my losing Jaime, my bend in the road. No, His ways are higher! His grace is greater than all our sins. His grace is about my bend in the road, yours, and the roads that lead toward restoration and that last stop when we are finally Home.