Mike and the Mechanics is not an automobile repair shop. It’s the name of a band most of you probably don’t know about. But they wrote one of the iconic songs of my generation called “The Living Years”; one of the most poignant and powerful songs I’ve heard and listening to it never fails to bring a lump to my throat. Mr. Lin sang at last week’s devotion; I’m going to embarrass myself by singing you a portion of the song today. This may not bring a lump to your throat, it may bring a grimace to your face, but here goes… (Last verse and chorus)
“I wasn’t there that morning
When my father passed away
I didn’t get to tell him
All the things I had to say
I think I caught his spirit
Later that same year
I’m sure I heard his echo
In my baby’s new born tears
I just wish I could have told him
In the living years
Say it loud, say it clear (oh say it clear)
You can listen as well as you hear
It’s too late (it’s too late) when we die (it’s too late when we die)
To admit we don’t see eye to eye…”
The song speaks of regret: the regret of not pursuing reconciliation until it was too late, in this case between son and father. Dear friends, this morning, are there broken relationships that you have not sought to mend? Are there people whom you have hurt or people whom have hurt you and that barrier, that wall still exists?
If we are being honest with ourselves, forgiveness and reconciliation is never easy; particularly if you are the party who has suffered a wrong, injury or hurt. There is a price to pay in seeking to build bridges: letting go of our own pride, anger and bitterness. Or coming to terms with the damage we have done to others: repenting of it and asking for forgiveness. And yet, this morning, I encourage us to pursue reconciliation because we should not regret not doing so.
I read a powerful story this past week. The former USA gymnastics team doctor, Larry Nassar, was sentenced to up to 175 years in prison for sexually abusing more than 150 girls (young gymnasts who were under his care). It’s appalling. I couldn’t imagine what I’d feel if my little girl was one of those who was taken advantage of by him. One of the former gymnast’s who addressed him in court, Rachael Denhollander, made an incredible speech. I want to read a portion of it to you.
“The Bible you speak carries a final judgment where all of God’s wrath and eternal terror is poured out on men like you. Should you ever reach the point of truly facing what you have done, the guilt will be crushing. And that is what makes the gospel of Christ so sweet. Because it extends grace and hope and mercy where none should be found. And it will be there for you. I pray you experience the soul crushing weight of guilt so you may someday experience true repentance and true forgiveness from God, which you need far more than forgiveness from me—though I extend that to you as well.”
Rachael both wanted for Larry to feel the full extent of the damage he has wrought on countless lives, and also to experience the forgiveness available to him. Dear friends, there is one last reconciliation I want to talk about today. In the Bible in 2 Corinthians 5:20, it is written “we beg you on behalf of Christ, be reconciled to God.” We need to be reconciled to God. Our sins have separated us from Him, but because of Christ (His sacrifice, His death on the Cross, His resurrection and ascension), forgiveness and reconciliation is made available for us!
Whether it’s a petty quarrel or a deep disagreement that has resulted in a fracture in our friendships or relationships today, would you seek reconciliation today? And if there are ways in us that we know are displeasing to God, would we also come back to Him? [Let’s pray]