It’s Time To Put The Past Behind You
But God does not take away life; instead, he devises ways so that a banished person may not remain estranged from him. 2 Samuel 14:14
There’s nothing really new under the sun, and when it comes to human relationships, the same dramas play out over and over again. Take, for example, the following story. A dad and his son have a disagreement. Angry words are spoken. Finally the dad says, “Don’t darken the door of this house again. I never want to see your face again!” “Don’t worry,” screams the son. “You never will.”
How many times has that played out in various themes and variations? Yet the story that I’m about to tell took place over 3,000 years ago. You can read about it in the Bible. The father’s name was David, and the son was Absalom. After David’s affair with Bathsheba, his life began to come apart. His own child by Bathsheba died. Then Amnon, one of David’s sons, forced himself upon his sister, Tamar, and Absalom so hated his brother for what he did that he engineered his death.
David, his heart torn and bruised at the pain and turmoil, banished Absalom from his presence. His honor demanded that kind of tough action. Some three years later, however, Joab, the chief of staff of David’s army, finds a wise woman and sends her to the king. She tells King David a story about having a husband who is dead, and two sons who got into a fight, one killing the other. Then, she says, the clan wants to put the surviving son to death, which would leave her without an heir, and destitute. “No,” says David, “this is not right.” And he gives an order protecting the son, allowing him to return home in peace.
Then, she tells the king that he has convicted himself, that she has just described the conflict he has with his own son, Absalom. In her plea to the king, she argues for reconciliation. She says, “But God does not take away life; instead, he devises ways so that a banished person may not remain estranged from him” (2 Samuel 14:14).
Wow! What profound understanding! Who needs theologians if the woman from Tekoa is present? She argues that God is the one who delights in life, and that He finds ways to bring a banished person home so that the “person may not remain estranged from him.” Little did she know that she was describing the mission God sent His own Son on, a millennium later. Paul said that Jesus Christ was the go-between, the one who reconciled us to the Father, the one who made it possible for us to come back home.
It’s an old story but it conveys a great truth. In a major city a father and son argued, and the son left in anger, but after several years, he wanted to see his mother at least one more time. He wrote a letter telling his dad that he would like to come back home, asking if he would be welcome to visit. “If your answer is, ‘Yes,’ he said, hang a white towel on the fence, and when I take the subway train into the city and we pass by there, I’ll know it is OK to come home.” With sweaty palms and palpitating heart, his eyes were glued on the window as the subway train approached the old family home that backed up on the tracks. And to his great surprise there was not a towel, but a white sheet so large he could not miss it.
Reconciliation is what the Gospel is all about. Paul wrote, “We implore you on Christ’s behalf: Be reconciled to God. God made him who had no sin to be sin for us, so that in him we might become the righteousness of God” (2 Corinthians 5:20-21).
God’s invitation is for you to come home, to be reconciled, to make peace and put the past behind you. It’s still true.
Resource reading: 2 Corinthians 5:16-21.