You know that feeling you get when that something or someone you had high hopes for goes wrong? The moment when circumstances and events go strangely and wildly "south" making a good idea in the eyes of some, bad? It is a second in time when the planning, preparation, and hopes are replaced by a reality in which there was no preparing for—a moment when something was switched and good intentions are received with a scowling, "What the Heck!"
When I look back at my story, I have too many of these moments, more than I care to share. I do remember that time I made plans for a romantic picnic, and I placed the blanket on a cow pie. Another time it was a family camp fire with wood that was laced with poison ivy. Sheesh!
Some brilliant mind once said, "the road to hell is paved with good intentions." I don’t believe that scholar to be so brilliant. In Life, things don’t always turn out the way we wanted, thought, or hoped. The hardest part is living with the results after my intentions are either missed altogether or badly misinterpreted.
Last Thursday night I, along with about 60,000 other folks nationwide, went to a local theater to watch a film by John Eldredge, produced by Ransomed Heart Ministries, called A Story Worth Living. It was a documentary of a father (Eldredge), his three sons, and a couple of their good friends taking a step into adventure… a 1,000 mile on road/off road BMW GS motorcycle adventure. These guys did not know how to ride, but they knew they wanted to, together. The film is often narrated by the best-selling author, John Eldredge, and then there are moments when the camera catches long, wide sweeping landscapes, as well as GoPro close-ups. It was well done, shot beautifully, and, being familiar with the Eldredges, there were moments I affectionately thought, "This is the grandest home movie I have ever seen."
Not everyone in the theaters that night thought so.
By the next morning the critics, disgruntled and angry, had formed lines… online comment lines. Reviews from the “Adventure Biker Community” made it clear, "We are not happy and you are going to have to pay!” Who knew? I tell you who didn’t know... all those associated with the making and sponsoring of the film. They had no idea this was coming. As I read a few of the comments, I began to feel, really feel an empathy toward those targeted and a sadness toward those who were attacking. We are a long way off from this being the last of these types of scenes. Offending and being offended has become a consistent part of, and ritualistic practice of, our global culture.
We have taken freedom of speech and made it free to insult, criticize, and blame.
It was the same in the 1st century. Where there are people, there are folks prone to not getting along. Much of what Jesus shared in His ministry was about getting along, loving, serving, helping, and connecting—finding the greatest common denominator of human beingness and being there for one another.
We have a lot of work to do and it takes a lot of work. When love doesn’t go well or doesn't go as planned or expected, Jesus made a back-up plan… forgiveness. It is seldom used and mostly ignored and unemployed as a way to redeem and restore what was lost or stolen.
By Saturday, Ransomed Heart had offered an "open apology" and there in the middle of the high road was, "We are sorry. Please forgive us." That is about the best one can do once they find out they missed something or someone. Whatever position someone takes on the film, loved it or hated it, you can not ignore the postscript; the place where the drama extends, the documentary continues, and another opportunity comes to love one another. Warriors know how to apologize, and Warriors know how to forgive. We’ll have to see what happens next as that is always the case in a story worth living.
Dear God, Holy Trinity, you and you alone are worthy to be praised. Thank you for showing us how to love, how to forgive and for inviting us into both… A Story Worth Living in which we have a critical part and the opportunity to be connected to you, the Author and central character.
Thank you for having each of us in mind when you made the world. For knowing who we are and for desiring that we have the privilege and honor of knowing you. All of us have forgotten at times and have turned a back or deaf ear to you… we’re sorry. I know I have acted out in harsh judgements and criticisms toward others who have not met my expectations or fulfilled my desires for how things should be… I’m sorry. I’m sorry for taking out my frustrations on your creations. I confess, I have lived wanting grace for myself and justice toward others.
Jesus, you are magnificent and we worship you as the author and perfecter of Love and Life. Not only did you invent it, you showed us how it works and invited us to give it a go. "Forgive us our debts as we forgive our debtors" you taught us. Thank you for the Larger Story and the opportunity to have a significant role in which loving and forgiving are our weapons. We pray for all of those trying to live in this war-torn world… living with an enemy on the inside (the false self/flesh) and an enemy on the outside (the kingdom of darkness) both hellbent on seeing us hurt one another. We confess, we need your help navigating this challenging and often evil place, we need your help empowering us to live and love like you did.
Holy Spirit, equip us to navigate this story well. Guide, counsel, teach, and when we need it, comfort us with your presence and with the truth that we might live free and offer the freedom that is your Kingdom. We lift up Zoweh and we pray over Ransomed Heart. Bring resources and relief, bring peace and understanding to our ministries. Thank you for the opportunities to play our part, to offer or to ask for forgiveness, to walk intimately with you learning your glorious ways. Bless those who hurt and are hurt by the best intentions or worst circumstances. We need you Jesus, we need you.
Amen and AMEN