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Replace & Restore

Maybe God doesn't want to transport us out of messy and unpleasant situations.

An acquaintance explained to me that if his wife and children discover a flaw in a piece of clothing—a button missing, a split seam, anything at all—they throw the item away. To be more precise, they throw it down the basement stairs for a cleaning service to pick up. Then they shop for replacements. That’s an easy way to handle clothing problems, but most of us don’t have the money to do that. We must patch and mend or pray that rips and holes continue to be haute couture.

Each New Year’s Day, many of us plan to make a fresh start. We intend to remake our bodies, our minds, our homes. Sadly, there is no magic involved in crossing the threshold from December 31st to January 1st. Entering a New Year does not automatically make us different people, nor does it transport us out of messy and unpleasant situations.

This is especially true when it comes to the way we relate to others. It would be wonderful if we could throw all our problem relationships down some basement staircase, never to bother us again. No more pain-in-the-neck family members, demanding bosses or friends who betray us! With them out of the way, we could then shop around for replacement friends and relatives.

While God promises to make us new creatures in Christ, He usually intends our new life to take root within the framework of our existing families, friends and colleagues. He doesn’t give up on relationships and He won’t allow us to do that either. So a person from whom we are estranged often comes back into our minds, our hearts, even our lives again. God offers us a second chance to get it right. If the relationship can’t return to what it once was, there can be forgiveness on our part and a letting go of past hurts.

Paul wrote to the Ephesian Christians about God’s intentions for relationships between Gentiles and Jews, but His words apply to our relationships today. “For Christ Himself… has broken down the wall of hostility that used to separate us… Christ reconciled both groups to God by means of His death, and our hostility toward each other was put to death” (Ephesians 2:14-16).

By all rights, Christ could have given up on us, sinful and marred as we are. Instead, He gave His life to reclaim us. It’s clear that He is in the recycling, restoration and healing business.

And He’s looking for partners.

Dorothy Post is a soldier of the Montclair, NJ Citadel Corps

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