Today is the 10th of March 2011. That means we are in the beginning of a 20 day window for reconciliation with community.
A few years ago, God highlighted the fact that the four change-of-season dates were intense occult festivals because He had imprinted some uncommon righteous dynamics on that time, and the dark side was only perverting what He had placed there.
We mulled over that for a while, poked and prodded, looked for patterns and field tested our hypothesis. At this point we feel that all four days were design for reconciliation and that there is a window of time, extending ten days before and after THE date where there is an uncommon grace of God.
Each window has a different flavor of reconciliation.
So what about this window which we will be in for twenty days? What do we do differently in this season so as to appropriate the spiritual potential of time?
There is a micro and a macro answer to that. Let’s start with the micro which is the reconciliation between two people.
First of all, please understand that reconciliation is not always possible. Paul wrote, “If it be possible, as much as lieth in you, live peaceably with all men.” Romans 12:18 KJV
To drive home the fact a little further, when Jesus died He was alienated from a whole lot of people. The vast majority of the religious establishment hated Him and rejected Him. Apparently most of His own family didn’t buy off on how He was conducting His calling. He was alienated from the government officials of the day. And He was alienated from all of His disciples to one degree or another.
Odds are that some of the people who shouted “Hosanna!” on Sunday were shouting “Crucify Him” a few days later. That pretty much qualifies as alienation, I would think.
So if the perfect God/man who was full of grace and truth, who had all of the fruit of the Spirit manifesting fully in Him got crosswise with His family, His ministry partners, the religious authorities, the civil authorities and the culture at large, over how He walked out His calling, then possibly He can understand our not always being in the good graces of everyone around us.
Now take a long look at that big old cloud of anticipatory guilt that has formed over your head since you started reading about the R word. Check to see if it is the Holy Spirit who positioned it there because you are refusing to reconcile with someone, or whether it is your old nemesis, trying to pull a fast one on you.
If it is the latter, then whack him with a good dose of truth, and dispense with the unnecessary condemnation.
OK. Enough already with the pregame show. What does it look like on Monday morning? First the micro.
Let’s take a simple scenario. Miriam, the therapist, has been working with Sally for several months. There are a dozen issues on the table at this time, and Miriam has the freedom to go in many different directions.
If one of the issues is reconciliation, then Miriam should definitely broach the subject in this window of time. Obviously in many therapeutic scenarios, you cannot wait for “the” window, and it is certainly possible to work on that issue at any time. But, if she thinks Sally is ready, she should definitely probe in that direction since it might be easier now than later. She might very well find that a hugely challenging issue melts before her in this window.
I have a friend who has a ministry of reconciliation. He is in the marketplace, but God positions him with co-workers and clients who have deep bitterness issues, and he helps them get free in a short period of time.
This is his anointing. It is not the spiel he uses but the grace that is on his life all year long. I would expect that God has saved up a dozen really hard cases, just for him in this window, and they will be wandering into his business ostensibly to buy what he sells but really for a divine appointment.
He should be ready to lean into the super hard cases, knowing that he has more going for him than his usual anointing.
And for you and me, who are neither therapists nor anointed for reconciliation, it is simply a matter of being open to whatever God wants to do.
When you get an e-mail from Fred, who you have not heard from for six years, it is a signal from God that it is time. When that obnoxious little league umpire who was so awful to your kid just happens to be in the waiting room at Jiffy Lube, chat with him. It may be a divine appointment.
Please realize that reconciliation does not have to be a formal, overt thing. There are many levels of reconciliation. I received an e-mail from a Plumbliner who I had not heard from for a while. I could tell from the tone that he was not sure where he stood with me. So I was extra warm when I wrote back to answer his simple question, sending a clear message that I was not upset.
And for all those relationships where there is existing tension, this is the window when you should stick your toe in the water gingerly to see how hot it is. If there is any possibility that the other person is ready, but won’t take the initiative, you should float a trial balloon so as not to miss any gifts from God.
Now, let’s switch over to the macro.
The far more complex issue is our being reconciled to the collective community that God placed us in. There are at least a thousand different reasons why our community as a whole could grate on us.
One that is quite common is the issue of being a big person in a small-minded community. Margaret Craven is a master of developing this theme. Her book “The Home Front” is an anthology of her short stories.
In each story, there is a stuffed shirt who the whole community acknowledges as being the big man in town. And there is a social reject/misfit who is actually big spirited but no one is big enough to recognize it.
In each story, there is a shift in the community, and they are forced to realize that the person they tried to fix or looked down on was really much larger than they could even comprehend. Margaret does a lovely job of capturing collective emotional whiplash. My favorite story is “The Crumpled Leaf.”
Whatever your beef is with the family/school/business/church/club/community where you find yourself now or where you have been, you are overlooking one key thing. God wants to use them to develop something vital in you. The fact that it hurts, and has for years, does not change the fact that He is a master of leveraging good out of evil.
Take a simple situation of my upbringing. I was born extreme right-brain dominant, and God put me in a very left-brain dominant family who did not know what to do with me. There were some not-fun times as they and I both tried to “fix” me.
However, without that, you would not be reading these blogs. I now cherish the blend of right brain and left brain thinking abilities which God developed in that context.
I have had some pretty weird customers over the years, many of whom have done me harm. Today God takes me back to those years often in order to draw on the wisdom I gained through all the different ways I was ripped off back then. The lessons I learned while playing for peanuts are highly valuable now that the stakes are higher.
God put Joseph in Potiphar’s home to teach him large-scale administration. God put Nehemiah in the palace to teach him about political hardball. God put Moses in the wilderness to learn how to live and travel in the desert. Each of these men cashed in on a very painful experience when they were possessing their birthright.
So your next step in this window of time is to make a list of all the different rubs you have experienced in community from conception on. Then ask yourself the question about each one, “What good thing is in my life now because I had to push back against that barrier?”
Look broadly and ask Him to show you. Sometimes it is spiritual authority which you earned. Sometimes God just wanted to teach you to be tough and endure. Other times He wanted you to learn a particular character quality. Sometimes He wanted to be sure you learned to draw your emotional strength from Him, not your community.
Will you be able to see the purpose behind all the painful events? Not likely. But being able to reframe even half of them would be a cause for worshipping the King, embracing the immense wisdom He has shown as He crafted you for possessing your birthright.
Then it is time to bow the knee in submission one more time, and Invite Him to place you where He knows you need to be for the rest of your time of preparation, regardless of whether it feels good, or whether you understand.
After all, He has a whole lot more experience in unpacking the treasures He has placed in you than you do, and He knows a lot more about where He is taking you, than you do.
Today, March 10, 2013, begins the 20 day window of reconciliation for community.
As I have pondered what strategy our corporate team should use this year, several things emerged. I share them with you not as a template to be followed but as a set of concepts that might stir up some original applications in your own world.
The word carries some negative overtones in our culture. In other words, we assume a breach in relationship whenever we hear that reconciliation is needed. I am of the opinion that these four windows are not necessarily about soul searching and finding the last few unforgiven issues to be dealt with. I believe the windows carry great grace for moving into higher positive numbers.
As we look at the issue of community in the next 20 days, we will be especially alert for those areas where community is working well so we can celebrate the beauty of different forms and flavors of people in right alignment with each other.
God is an extraordinary Scrabble player. Watching Him take a really odd personality and place them in a community where they can absolutely shine is cause for worship — but we have to see it first, which means our whole team will be actively looking for those kinds of stories.
Scripture is full of admonitions to remember. As with most Hebrew words, there are many shades of meaning. One of them is to reminisce verbally. The picture is of a group of people talking through a favorite memory and savoring it again, articulating the special parts of the story.
We are of the opinion that this exercise is commanded not simply because God is concerned about our data retrieval skills but because something happens in our souls and in the spiritual realm when we lean into the sweet spots of our life’s story.
So for the next 20 days, our team is going to take turns around the lunch table sharing vignettes never before celebrated with that group. We will savor collectively the beauty of God’s gift of vibrant community so that all of us can come into agreement with the greatness of His generosity towards us in terms of good community.
One of the things I feel God said to me about this window is that He will be taking the initiative to enrich our ties within community. That means it is our responsibility to be alert and not miss the clues He sends our way.
Now THAT is a challenge. There are a few of you out there who are rather isolated, and you are finding some sense of community just reading these words on a screen, sent out to the world at large.
The reality is that most of us have triple the people in our lives that we can reasonably relate to. Thus, we have developed some finely honed skills for connecting with most people as superficially as possible to pretend we have connection without really connecting.
I did that with Steve today. He is the early morning clerk at the grocery store, and I am one of his regular early morning customers. Today I bipped in to grab some milk, butter, yogurt and tapioca pudding. We exchanged a couple of superficial comments that made each other smile.
I am probably one of his favorite customers because I engage him as a person, but in reality, our relationship is about a three on a scale of 1 to 100. I have a bucket full of people like Steve who I acknowledge regularly but don’t really do community with.
And then there are the e-mails. Almost daily I get an e-mail from someone wanting to buy a download instead of a CD. I go into mechanical mode and explain that if they click on the Store button they will find all the downloads. There is simply no attempt to engage them as humans. Call it a one on a scale of 1 to 100.
Between those and the close inner circle are people at every level of relationship with me, reasonably well pigeon holed. I saw Jim’s name pop up in the inbox today, and my mind immediately categorized him: Servant (or is he Teacher?), Canadian, earned authority over premature death, low maintenance, passion for birds, can see beauty in nature, has family history with land in his city, writes a focused e-mail that will be easy to read and respond to.
Even though Jim is tagged with a bucket full of positive tags in my archives, there is still a predictability that wars against my going deeper. He probably has a new thought for me. It will probably be good. I will acknowledge it and use it and go on to the next e-mail.
In the midst of this relentless over-exposure to people, the King will be actively at work in this season. He will take the initiative to reposition a one or a three or a seventy-two in a slightly different posture to see if I will recognize an opportunity to actually engage, not just do a fly by.
Without a doubt, I will miss a lot of the pitches He sends my way, but fortunately for me, He has vast endurance when it comes to pitching batting practice, and by the end of the 20 days, my community will be stronger, richer and fuller because He crafted some wonderful connecting points I had not seen before, and made it easy for me.
If I recognize them.
I have an active prayer life, led by the God of the Universe. I usually only have two or maybe three things on my regular list, but the Holy Spirit regularly directs me to pray for some of you for a few days at a time, until something shifts. He stacks the deck in favor of success by telling me what you need at that moment, or what He needs me to pray out of the way or into place before you get to wherever you are going. Most of the time I do it without comment.
I think in this window I will drop a note to a few of you and let you know what the King has put on my plate about you. I wrote someone yesterday who I only have contact with three or four times a year, but what God had me praying was exactly what they needed, and it encouraged them to keep on going though a difficult time.
So that is how I am approaching this season. Since there is grace to upgrade my community, I am leaning into it.
I encourage you to mull over what works for you and craft your own strategy to benefit from the available grace.
March 10, 2013
From the Hub, in Anaheim
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