Reconciliation – the First Goal of Restoration
“I was so angry at God that I did just the opposite of anything that had to do with God.” In his own words, this man was deceived. His wife, who was left behind with their children, was struggling with depression and a spirit of suicide. But God had other plans for this family and He sent help for her as she cried out to Him in her despair. She eventually led a Covenant Keepers group where she was able to encourage others who were hurting as she had in the beginning.
In the meantime, God was watching over this man and reminding him of the love of his wife and children. He made the first contact, and soon he was on the way home. After their reconciliation, they led the Covenant Keepers group together for a time and he wrote the following regarding restoration. Their testimony has encouraged many. He has not only been restored to his family but to ministry. Below he tells us in his own words:
It was a dark and gloomy morning. The car was packed and no good-byes were given. I was leaving and there was nothing to be said about it. The problems were beyond my ability to cope and running away seemed like the reasonable thing to do.
Without warning I had thrown 16 years of marriage into the dump heap of broken dreams and abandoned God, my family and the calling on my life. Was it a mid-life crisis? Were my parents or my upbringing to blame? It would be described as a breakdown for sure, but why? Why do marriages fail when each person has invested so much time, effort and love? Why do people grow apart?
Leaving my wife and children could be traced to a single decision and a point in time when I chose to place my wife in an adversarial role in our marriage.
I had believed a lie and allowed unforgiveness to cloud my judgment. Up until that time she and I made our decisions through open and caring dialogue. This process took more time but the fruit was unity of heart. Through the continuing of this unilateral pattern in my mind, my wife was transformed from a loving partner into the form of my adversary. She was the God-given balance to my life, yet I was deceived by my own needs to succeed and prove myself worthy of God’s love.
The first attack in marriage is always against the union of the heart. The union of the heart is supernatural in nature. This union is the critical factor that gives strength and durability to a marriage. Once the union of the heart is broken, double-mindedness and strife become the norm. Once, I had given my heart completely to my wife, but by excluding her from the major decisions of ministry and placing her in the adversary role, I saw her not as my helpmate but as a hindrance. This perception was incorrect and from the pits of hell, but to me it was reality. I had withdrawn my heart and the unity we enjoyed for so many years was now only a memory.
That morning began a period where I plunged into the abyss of an angry soul, fully deceived by the trials of life. My wife, on the other hand, drew near to the God of her salvation. She got involved with a Covenant Keepers group and began the healing process that eventually had its effect on me. After 21 months I came to my senses because my wife was using the keys of reconciliation to unlock my hardened, vaulted heart.
To understand the difference between reconciliation and restoration is critical because reconciliation is the tool employed by God to disarm hostile parties. It is the key that unlocks the deceived heart and opens the door so the truth and love of God can enter. Reconciliation is the foundation for restoration.
The definition of reconciliation is “to make friendly again, to win over; to settle or to be in harmony.” Synonyms include appeasement, atonement and expiation.
The goal of reconciliation is to be civil and communicative to the degree that basic issues can be addressed. Reconciliation is the removing of obstacles or the clearing of walls that are built in response to strife and disappointed expectations. Restoration is the improvement and expansion of the precious relationship.
Reconciliation must transpire before restoration is manifest, just as a condemned building must be razed before a new building can be constructed.
Job is a good example of repentance, reconciliation and restoration. Job had been talking about his piety and reflecting on his self-righteousness when God appeared in a whirlwind. In Job 38:4-5 God asks Job some telling questions: “Where were you when I laid the foundations of the earth? Tell Me, if you have understanding. Who set its measurement, since you know?” These questions continue for two chapters, and then God states, “Will the faultfinder contend with the Almighty? Let him who reproves God answer it.” Job 40:2
Job answered by stating, “Therefore I have declared that which I did not understand. Things too wonderful for me, which I did not know. I have heard of Thee by the hearing of the ear; But now my eyes see Thee; Therefore I retract (or abhor myself) and repent in dust and ashes.” Job 42:3-6 This is a picture of reconciliation.
God helped Job to see his arrogance and empowered Job to remove his pride. Reconciliation always involves repentance. This set Job up for God’s restoration. In Job 42:10-12 we read, “And the Lord restored the fortunes of Job…and the Lord increased all that Job had two fold…And the Lord blessed the latter days of Job more than his beginnings.”
The goal of reconciliation is not to restore the marriage, but rather to become communicative once again. The aim is not to solve all the problems, but to take the first step of establishing open communication and the start of a meaningful relationship.
As a whole we are too quick to burn our bridges. Reconciliation is the fire prevention process that keeps bridges between couples intact. The reality of life is that the details of a couple remain even if the couple is separated. This is magnified further if children are involved.
The great thing about the process of reconciliation is, when properly understood, it is pressure free. Because the goal is to be able to talk to one another in a meaningful manner, there is no pressure to move back together, to relocate, or to do anything other than talk. One must stay within the constructs of reconciliation. The goal is friendship.
To push and put other agenda items into the reconciliation process is to set yourself up for failure. When a relationship has broken, it is foolish to expect a quick fix. Too much, too fast, always produces choking. This is not the goal. We first need an awakening.
The goal of reconciliation is the reestablishment of the friendship that was broken. Once an alienated spouse understands that you just want to be friends, there is a freedom to explore the possibilities. The pressure is off and the accompanying anxiety dissipates. What we need is an Awakening.
In the twilight hours between consciousness and slumber I found myself dreaming. Fraught with the guilt and despair of buried feelings and misplaced anger, I wandered to pleasant memories of a calmer time. I recalled the births of my children and relived all their births in the type of detail reminiscent of a Steinbeck novel. The joys, the tears, the laughter, the smells and the bonding, all raced through my mind in a heartbeat of eternity.
I awoke to an empty apartment, in a state 1200 miles from my family, alone in my sin. Sin always promises that which it cannot produce. It promised me freedom and gave me the chains of bitterness. Sin proclaimed self-fulfillment and fullness. I received a spirit of suicide and emptiness.
I longed for acceptance and freedom from condemnation but received self-doubt and assurance of a place in hell. I bought a package of lies and found myself in debt to the Hater of my soul and the Destroyer of my dreams. I left my family to pursue greener pastures and now was eating the straw of the wilderness in the barren land of deception.
God was faithful and my bride called forth my name in intercession. I came to my senses and returned to the wife of my youth and the family of my loins. Sin promises that which it cannot produce, but God promises that which He has already given in His Son, Christ Jesus.
In the restoration process, the struggle between the false promises of sin and the active promises of God must be understood. For once one has been deceived with the false claims of sin, that propensity remains and must be dealt with.
The battle is in the mind, in the thought process that comes from deep within your heart. Do you believe lies about your spouse? Are you entertaining thoughts that are counterproductive to the restoration of your marriage? “Finally, brethren, whatever is true, whatever is honorable, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is of good report, if there is any excellence and if anything is worthy of praise, let your mind dwell on these things.” Philippians 4:8
The first battle for restoration must be fought and won in the mind. God promises that which He has already given in His Son. Keep your mind fixed on this fact and deception will have no place in you. The victory has already been paid for; you simply must receive it by faith.