Weekly Edgework #4 - July 26, 2004
Hope for Healing
About a dozen years ago I was accompanying my friend Abe to Winnipeg. I can no longer remember the purpose of our trip. But on the way I shared with him how I had come to terms with some of the pain my now deceased father had passed on to me. I told him that I had forgiven him. I also told him that I grieved the fact that he had died with some of his own deep wounds still unhealed.
I was unprepared for Abe’s outburst. I will never forgive my father! he exclaimed. Do you hear me? I will never forgive him. If you knew half of how I was beaten and abused when I was young you would understand! There is no love between my father and me and there never will be. I would not grieve in the least if he should die. I hate my father!
A few weeks ago I sat in Abe’s living room listening to him tell me how much he loved his father. How his father called him every day to see how things were. How he played with his grandchildren and great grandchildren. How going for coffee or a game of golf with his dad was a delightful experience.
When I asked him if he remembered what he had told me on the trip to Winnipeg more than a decade earlier, he replied that he did. But things are different now, he said quietly. Then he told me the story of how things had changed. I sat quietly, listening intently, a tear sneaking down my cheek – aware that I was witnessing a sign of the Kingdom of God.
Abe, I said, you must tell that story to the church! They must hear this story of grace. I know, he said, but I can’t speak in front of people. He agreed to consider it, but in the end he asked instead that I help him write out his story. A few weeks later Ruth read Abe’s story at church as an illustration for a sermon I was presenting, entitled, Walking in the Resurrection.
This is the story Ruth read that Sunday morning.
What a blessing it is to be able to talk to my dad and to be a friend with him. It has not always been that way. Until a few years ago there was always tension between my dad and me. Not only tension – there was hatred, anger and unforgiveness. We were far apart because of so much pain that we both had experienced in the past. My dad was hurt deeply by his dad. I was hurt by my dad, and in turn I hurt him as well.
At that time I could not imagine how we would ever be able to be reconciled. That seemed to be an impossibility. But then one night my dad had a dream that shook him up pretty badly. When I went to his house, dad told me about the dream. He wept openly as he reconfirmed his faith in God and we forgave each other for the pain we had caused one another.
I would like to share how different it is now compared to how it used to be. Now we can laugh and cry together as friends. Since that time when we could talk together so intimately our friendship has been so good. Now I can hardly imagine what it was like before we were reconciled. Now our relationship is just great, believe me!
The church was deathly quiet when Ruth finished reading the story. Does that call for an Amen, I asked. A chorus of Amens filled the sanctuary. What about a Hallelujah? I wondered. The volume grew as the congregation responded. What about a Praise the Lord, I queried. And the glory of the Lord filled the temple! Then all was quiet. God had revealed himself. And we all bowed our heads in silent, holy reverence.