[This post is the third in a series of devotions on forgiveness that I first published last year in a leaders’ devotional book, "Disciplines 2013" from The Upper Room. This is based on a reading found in Luke 15:20-21 and Psalm 32:3-5]

In the midst of conflict between family members, the changes that offend and alienate, and the losses of innocence and identity that result from those things, certain longings and actions follow.  The son who had left home, insulted his father and spoiled the family plans for the future, came to his senses.  He discovered that his longing for an independent and individualistic future was not as powerful as his longing for home and relationships with those who love and sustain.  In the absence of home, he discovered a hope for home.

Out of his loss and emptiness, he went to his father and confessed that he had made a mistake. He named the losses that he and his family suffered. In humility he realized that he could not come back into the family as he was.  He was not worthy.

But in confessing, an interesting thing occurred.  He discovered that the onerous burden that he and his family experienced was lifted. His father had been holding in his heart a pool of grace for his son. The family would never be the same.  The future would always be shaped by the experiences of the past.  He was welcomed back as a son, but no one would be the same.  Grace and forgiveness does not restore life as it was. It simply reconnects the wounded and scarred so that there is a chance to build something new.  

God’s agenda is a future where shalom is a reality.  His desire is for communities to be free from the power of the past to control their future so that the future might be rebuilt out of the scattered stones of separation and alienation.  Psalmists sing of the burden that is lifted when the heart confesses.  How have you contributed to God’s agenda in creating a heart of grace that reformation might take place?

Grant us the courage to confess, O God, and open ourselves to reconnection.