This article is part of the Easter 2020 Trinity Magazine issue. You can view the entire issue here.
By The Rev. Cn. Shari Hobby
“We rejoice in God through our Lord Jesus Christ, through whom we have now received reconciliation.” -Romans 5:11
As a fairly newly ordained person, I left the church that Jim and I were serving together in hurt and anger. I will not go into details regarding the conflict with the church’s leaders. But it was an awful time for both Jim and me. Eventually, we began to put the pieces together with the help of a counselor. I began to realize, and then admit, that the wrong was mine, and not just “theirs.” However, I was pretty sure that I was “finished” in ministry and that the Lord would never choose to use me again.
Reconciliation with the Lord
But the Lord was gracious. One Sunday, as I was seated in the pew of another congregation in town, the Lord met me through the Scriptures. The texts for the day were all about leaders that had messed up, but God still chose to use them for his purposes.
Exodus 32:1, 7-14 - Moses is delayed coming down the mountain and Aaron gives into the people’s wishes to build a golden calf. When Moses comes down from the mountain, he pleads with the Lord to relent from the disaster he had spoken bringing on his people.
Psalm 51:1-18 - David, a man after God’s own heart, has sinned against the Lord and he cries for mercy. David knows his transgressions and his sin that is ever before him. After acknowledging God’s power to cleanse, he asks the Lord to restore to him the joy of his salvation.
1 Timothy 1:12-17 - Paul was a former persecutor of believers in Jesus. In this letter to Timothy, Paul says that the grace of our Lord overflowed for him with the faith and love that are in Christ Jesus, and that Jesus came into the world to save sinners, of whom Paul was the foremost.
Luke 15:1-10 - The parables of the lost sheep and the lost coin continued to minister to my heart. Though, like the sheep, I had strayed, my shepherd was willing to seek me out and restore me. Restore me to him! Restore me to the people I had wounded!
Through each of these texts, I began to get a taste of what reconciliation with the Lord and with others would/could look like. I received the bread and wine. I left a good deal of pain at the altar and departed with unimaginable hope in my heart. I continued to see the Lord in new ways and tangibly began to feel his forgiveness and grace.
Reconciliation with Others
At that point, it was time for me to begin the hard work of reconciliation with so many people I had hurt. I asked the new Rector of the church whether he would allow me to come speak to the church as a group. A very firm, “No,” was his response, but I did have his permission to talk to people individually.
Months were spent taking individuals to lunch 2-3 times a week, as much intensity as I could handle. During that time, I confessed my sin, asked for and received their forgiveness. At the end of each lunch, I would ask who else I still needed to talk to. It was a long season of this intense pattern, one person at a time.
But the time came, when that work was done! There was no one else I needed to talk to. I was free! To the best of my ability, I had done what was asked of me, and found the Lord faithful to restore me to himself and to others.
And, the Lord’s faithfulness continues! He chooses to use me in the lives of others, by his power and for his glory. I am grateful.