James 2:13b (NIV) “…Mercy triumphs over judgment!”
Every war involves battle wounds and scars…even when you are on the winning side. The names in this battle—and victory—report are changed to protect the dignity and honor of souls. Some of the souls have gone to eternity and some are still on their journey.
It all began with good intentions. An aging couple reached out to help a middle-aged Christian brother, Allen, who was struggling with mental health issues, divorce and unemployment. Mae and Jim eventually took him into their home providing food, clothing and encouragement. Gradually Mae began to rearrange their home and their lives to accommodate the needs of Allen. Uneasy with what seemed to be an unhealthy relationship, family members began to complain and cajole Mae to see the situation from their viewpoint. Unable to see beyond Allen’s needs and the joy she felt in helping him, Mae became defensive.
Family concern, contention and chatter increased. Feeling victimized by misjudgment and gossip, Mae lashed out. Accusing her youngest daughter of slanderous lies, she demanded an apology. Stubborn pride and self-righteousness prevented Jessie from anything other than an expression of sympathy for her mother’s anger. It was not enough. Mae refused any further contact with Jessie—except phone calls to Jessie’s preschool daughter. Often those calls became Mae’s opportunity to defend herself with accusations against Jessie.
Deeply grieved but unable to see beyond ‘right’ and ‘wrong’, Jessie sought God’s perspective. The Spirit returned her to the cross to find the answer to the conflict. The Peacemaker, by Ken Sande, helped Jessie understand how to apply the blood of Christ for cleansing and healing. She began to see the necessity and blessing of mercy for her own well-intentioned mis-steps that had contributed to the broken relationship. As she embraced the love of Christ that extends forgiveness for intentional—and unintentional—sins, she saw her mother’s need for the same. In Jessie’s words, “I finally understood that both she and I had tried our best—but our best is never enough. It was not about who was right and who was wrong; it was all about living IN Jesus.” Armed with prayer and humility, Jessie sought to reconcile with her mother.
Mae, too, was longing to restore her family and the relationship—shaky and fragile—was able to begin building. The blood of Jesus wrought a great victory…a victory that soon took on even greater proportions. While unconditional love had paved the way for family connections, the underlying problems that spawned the conflict remained. The damage from the unhealthy situation with Allen propelled Mae and Jim into angry, potentially violent conflict. Mae briefly stayed with Jessie and her family until Jim could move out of their home; they would never speak again. He has found peace mingled with sorrow in his new community and church. More importantly those he moved in with began attending church with him! The victories there are still unfolding.
Within a year, Mae found herself in a battle with advanced cancer. The earlier victory with her daughter allowed Mae to walk with her children and grandchildren through the valley of the shadow of death. The peace that came in walking together is nearly incalculable: love reigned in a dark place; Jessie faces the future without hopeless regrets; the impact of the victory on the grandchildren and other observers is known only in heaven; the knowledge that there was peace between Mae and Jesus is priceless.
None of us leaves our earthly walks unscarred but Jesus gives us strength for each step and ‘bright hope for tomorrow.’ May you be inspired to apply the blood and reconcile any broken relationships in your life…in honor of Mae and her loved ones.