I’ve been thinking a lot lately about reconciliation. This churchie word, often quoted in complex theological discussions, was displayed in all its simplicity and beauty recently in a conversation I had with a woman from the Kitchen. She, we’ll call her Ronda, had been accused of stealing, but vehemently denied it. Not knowing what to believe, I sent her home to pray about what to do. “Just deal with God about it,” I told her without much hope that she would.
I wasn’t optimistic because over the past 14 years not one of our employees has ever admitted to stealing even when the evidence was clear and right in front of us. I was discouraged because Ronda is a great worker and I’d hate to loose her. I prayed all weekend that she would know that forgiveness was available. I prayed God would intervene. “Please, please, please, do something, Lord! Show her what to do, how to come back; show her how Truth offers freedom.”
She didn’t call on Tuesday when we’d arranged to talk. My worst fears played havoc with prayer. Had she conceded to discouragement, old habits, and beliefs? Would this deride her new found stability and sobriety? Oh… I can get morose thinking I know the future.
Wednesday morning she called. “I’ve been reading my Bible,” she said, “all weekend actually. I wasn’t ready to call you yesterday; I had to keep reading. A chaplain friend told me to find verses that would help me. So I’ve been reading about being a thief. Did you know there’s a lot of verses about that? And, well, I don’t want to be one. There’s this verse in Ephesians that says if you used to steal, don’t do it anymore, but work and do something useful. And that’s what I want to do, Jan. I want you to respect me. I love Christ Kitchen and I want to work there. Do you forgive me?”
Ah, sweet Jesus. Reconciliation simply means change, what God accomplishes when he sheds his grace on us, the fallen, the oh-so-messed-up, the discouraged. It’s an invitation to accept God’s astounding provision in exchange for our dismal attitudes, bleak prospectives, and deadly habits. Ronda, my rookie theologian, spoke hope right over the phone line to this discouraged disciple. She joyfully revealed God’s mighty power to change the world one soul at a time.