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Wednesday, April 26, 2006


forgiven

Over the years, I used to dream about them.

When they first left our church, I dreamt frequently that she and I were together in their home, finishing a Bible study or finishing lunch, laughing--and always, that sound mingled with the noise of her two girls, who played at our feet.

Sometimes, I dreamt that I saw him on the street, and he wasn't angry anymore. I found just the right words, in those dreams, to tell him how much we loved them both ... and how much we missed them. I woke crying after more than one such dream.

Once I actually saw her driving behind me in their family van. I caught her eye in the mirror and waved. She waved back. Her husband--in writing--had forbidden me to talk with her, even threatening to sue me if I ever made contact, but I couldn't help but turn and mouth through the back window, "I miss you." She mouthed it back, and the tears came before I could stop them.

When my husband learned, through the freely given admission of our friend, that he was contemplating and taking steps toward a disastrous decision--one that would jeopardize if not outright destroy his marriage and the security of his children--Dave acted. He responded to the pleas of this man's wife and stood in the gap between our friend and his desired choice. My husband's firm action infuriated our friend. The last time he stood in our church, it was in the doorway of my husband's office, where he raised his voice and yelled, "I could line up a hundred pastors, and not one of them would have done what you did." But my husband had simply obeyed God ... and helped save a family.

The choice had been halted. The family stayed together, and stayed in our town. They changed churches, obviously, but maintained a few mutual friendships. Sometimes I'd hear news about them, such as when their third child was born. The news was always bittersweet. I'd be happy for them, and grieved for us--grieved that our church family was missing out on joys that should have been ours.

I must have stopped and prayed a hundred times over the years, "Please, Father, help him to know that Dave acted because he loved him."

Sometimes, God says yes.

Not long ago, on a Tuesday night, Dave came home from the church office and gave me a look that promised he'd brought news. "I want you to read something," he said.

He opened his laptop, navigated to his mailbox, and brought up an email. I began reading--first the name of the sender, and then the words, "Dear Pastor Dave." The tears came so fast and so hard that I couldn't keep reading. I had to stop first and let six years of sadness run their course before I could take in those healing words.

He'd written four pages. What it all settled down to, was this: I've known for many years that I needed to say this to you. I was wrong to pull my family away from people who loved them, and who they loved. We've missed so much because I did that. I created a gap that shouldn't have been there. Pastor Dave, will you forgive me?

I don't remember ever feeling so light. We closed the laptop, put our shoes on, and drove off. Within five minutes, we turned down a road I'd missed, pulled up to a house I'd missed, and knocked on a door I thought I'd never approach again. He answered, and swung that door open. There wasn't time enough for surprise to register in his eyes, because my husband didn't hesitate. He reached first to take our friend's hand, and then pulled him into an embrace. I stood behind, and watched six years of regret melt away. The intensity on our friend's face, as he accepted and returned my husband's embrace, is a look I will see forever.

"We never stopped loving or missing you," I said, as I accepted my own hug. And then his wife was there, and I got the tearful reunion I'd prayed for and dreamt about.

Our God heals silent wounds and secret longings and dreams that seem long past mending. He whispers words to those who no longer hear us. He nudges hearts, and opens doors we're powerless to open.

And sometimes, He surprises.

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29 Comment:

At 4/26/2006 10:49 AM, Anonymous Susan had this to say ...

Having been in a similar situation I can understand the grief of missing a good friend. Thank you for the story, and the reminder of what a loving wonderful God we have.

 
At 4/26/2006 11:17 AM, Anonymous Pam D. had this to say ...

Wow!! I'm sitting here at work trying hard to stop tears from streaming...what a beautiful story. I can relate in many ways. Your last words stir hope in me too that God WILL someday let me hear some long-awaited words from someone I've prayed aeons for - words that let me see how he's finally stepped into the Lord's embrace and healing...and we can rejoice together in God's family.

 
At 4/26/2006 12:08 PM, Blogger Reverberate58 had this to say ...

Beautiful story. I am so glad for your family and theirs. A blessing.

 
At 4/26/2006 12:17 PM, Anonymous crickl's nest had this to say ...

Thank you for sharing this! That is so encouraging and felt so healing. My husband (pastor) and I are still waiting for this to happen with a dear friend of ours. Thankfully I can see his wife and there is no damage there.

Not only for my husband, but for that man....he is living in total bitterness and anger when he could just let it all go and let God work. *still praying, hoping*

Christie

 
At 4/26/2006 5:15 PM, Blogger Sojourner had this to say ...

:'( Thank you.

 
At 4/26/2006 6:23 PM, Blogger Milton Stanley had this to say ...

Amen.

 
At 4/26/2006 9:19 PM, Blogger Alicia had this to say ...

Thank you!

 
At 4/26/2006 10:47 PM, Blogger C. H. Green had this to say ...

I love this post. It speaks of God's grace and love and restoration. It speaks of healing and hope. Thanks for writing--and caring.

 
At 4/27/2006 1:54 AM, Blogger Fran had this to say ...

I've heard all this from you before but the retelling still made me cry. God is so good. :)

 
At 4/27/2006 5:33 AM, Blogger Debrand had this to say ...

TERRIFIC! The tears haven't stopped. HE is Faithful!

 
At 4/27/2006 8:37 AM, Blogger ~Pat~ had this to say ...

Oh Shannon! I needed this more than ever this morning! I have been going through something similar for several years now and I LONGGGGG for the day when the restoration and healing WILL take place...
"I thank my God upon every rememberance of you"
Philippians 1:3
I love you so much...how can that be possible? It's Christ alone...
~Pat~

 
At 4/27/2006 9:03 AM, Blogger Sharon had this to say ...

Shanny,
Simply beautiful story.I am still drying my eyes here.Love you dear friend.
Sharon :-)

 
At 4/27/2006 4:03 PM, Blogger Derek had this to say ...

Forgiveness is key is my new motto.

I know that light feeling well. I was 18 or 19. My father (who left home when I was 6) called as he did now and again. He actually caught me at home this time.

This call was different. He asked me to forgive him. For leaving our family. I said yes. We small talked a bit and then said goodbye. I went to tell my mom what happened.

And I floated down the hall.

 
At 4/27/2006 5:58 PM, Blogger Darlene had this to say ...

That was emotional Shannon, and you wrote it so well. I felt the love.

 
At 4/27/2006 6:55 PM, Blogger Chris had this to say ...

I found your blog on CWO. What a beautiful story of God's grace and forgiveness.

Chris

 
At 4/27/2006 8:27 PM, Blogger Annette Burkett had this to say ...

You really should have warned us to grab our tissues first...hey, can somebody pass the box of kleenex please?! My goodness girl, God is amazing isn't He!

Rejoicing with you,
Annette

 
At 4/27/2006 8:38 PM, Blogger Jimmy had this to say ...

Shannon, once again I thank you for offering hope to so many of us with estranged relationships. While in our heads we know God is in control, our hearts still break at each remembrance of past days. Your heartfelt writing has given me encouragement and blessed me. I'll sleep better tonight for reading your post. I don't even know him, but I am so proud of Pastor Dave for taking the stand for the Lord with a friend. Both of you stay in my prayers (and especially that Zac won't sneak by you without pants one day!) 8-)
Jimmy

 
At 4/28/2006 9:13 AM, Blogger whaaaat! had this to say ...

What a wonderful story.

 
At 4/28/2006 6:44 PM, Blogger My Kid's Mom had this to say ...

What a miracle! This was an absolutely beautiful story. Thank you for sharing it! It brings hope that this can happen to me.

 
At 4/28/2006 9:26 PM, Blogger Shelley had this to say ...

That was simply amazing. Thank you for sharing this with us. It shows that there IS power in prayer, and that God answers them in His own timing.

Your story offers hope - in forgiveness, in love, and in God. It brought tears to my eyes as I read this (I'm a big sap). I'm glad that you and your husband were able to rekindle your friendship with the other couple.

You wrote this so wonderfully, and I can only hope that someday I can write just as well.

 
At 4/29/2006 9:39 AM, Blogger Procyon had this to say ...

You have a lovely blog. Your blog has comforted so many.
I shall be grateful if you can check out my blog at http://borax.wordpress.com so that you in turn may be blessed and comforted.
2 Cor 1.3,4

Regards
Rupert

 
At 5/01/2006 3:24 AM, Blogger Procyon had this to say ...

Thank you for visiting my blog. I appreciate all your kind remarks. May I link up with you? And can I blogroll your site on http://borax.wordpress.com?

Regards
Rupert

 
At 5/01/2006 6:28 AM, Blogger Paul had this to say ...

Wow!!

I am sitting here looking for a box of tissues.

It is amazing how the Father works on hearts and answers the cries of our hearts when we come to Him.

What a message of hope when we are persistent in prayer, trusting the Lord.

Thanks for sharing!

Writing for the King,

Paul

P.S. Got to go to a Pastor/Leadership conference here in Ga. Chuck Smith, Paul Smith and Gayle Erwin and others spoke. I was truly blessed.

 
At 5/01/2006 7:07 AM, Blogger popuri had this to say ...

dear shannon
I cried when I read your story. Forgiveness is so needful in the times of selfs; self-love, self perservation, self-defence, self adoration etc.

People don't realise that they make a dent in hearts when they don't forgive. We stayed where we are because we choose to trust God, for healing, for unity, for the purpose of building his Kingdom, not because we don't feel the pain.

 
At 5/01/2006 12:26 PM, Blogger steve had this to say ...

BEautiful as always.

God is good!!

 
At 5/01/2006 6:24 PM, Blogger Gina Burgess had this to say ...

Shannon, I love forgiveness! I adore hearing about it, it refreshes me like cool waters and seeps into my soul like welcome springs! I shall treasure this post.

 
At 5/02/2006 8:10 PM, Blogger beth had this to say ...

Thrilled to have found your blog and peeked into your life and ministry in Seattle. Thanks for this inspiring story...I'll be back...

 
At 5/03/2006 1:19 PM, Blogger Jennifer had this to say ...

I made you laugh and you made me cry. How fair is that? I think there's a country song in there, somewhere. Oh Shannon, what an incredible story. God is so good! Thanks for visiting me.

 
At 6/13/2006 8:48 AM, Blogger Paula had this to say ...

I too have felt the pain of being estranged from beloved church family. This post made me cry. Praise God for the reconciliation.

 

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