Repairing Burned Bridges

God’s grace given and received repairs burned bridges, dismantles bitterness, and restores peace to the soul.

I love the times when God gives me the grace to step out of my comfort zone so He gets the glory.  Sometimes that involves a task for which I don’t feel equipped.  Sometimes it means reaching out to someone either I know dislikes me, for reasons real or imagined, or to someone I have hurt or who has hurt me.  Either way, it is taking God at His Word and watching Him do “super abundantly more than I can think or ask!”

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The enemy of our souls loves to make us fearful of situations and to take wounds we have received to nurture bitterness in our hearts towards others.  He loves to feed our insecurities and/or our indignation.

But God says, “If possible, so far as it depends on you, live peaceably with all.”  (Romans 12:18)  Not peace at any cost.  Not peace at the expense of Truth.  But where we are able to take that step and allow God to repair bridges that have been burned by hurtful actions or words; where we can say “Please forgive me” or “I forgive you,” that is where the healing begins not only for the other person but for ourselves.  And that is where God is glorified.

Our God shows His power in our weakness.  He urges us, by His grace, to act and asks us to respond to His promptings.  Will we ignore and choose to feed our resentment or our apprehension?  Will we justify our response?  Or will we, in humility before the Father, act according to His Word and reap the blessing of obedience?

Sometimes that blessing will come in the form of a healed relationship and sometimes it will be realized in the peace God gives simply because we have said, “Yes, Lord” and left the ultimate outcome to Him.

Recently, fear almost got the best of me.  I encountered an acquaintance who had become angry with my husband and I over a situation that we had not intended but had since taken measures to correct.  I knew I needed to speak – God made that clear and I was willing…until she got closer; then fear started to creep in and my desire to avoid the possibility of her anger again almost took over.  I began to justify my hesitance with thoughts such as “What does it matter now?” and  “Why put myself out there; we are only acquaintances not friends.”  But the Holy Spirit’s nudging continued and I moved towards her.  What ensued was nothing less than more of God’s superabundant mercy.

Understanding replaced anger; a common ground replaced fearfulness.  A burned bridge was rebuilt with a surer foundation.

I could have turned the other way and continued to nurture an attitude that probably never would have hurt the other person, for truly our paths rarely cross.  But the reality is that the attitude left unchecked would have changed me.  My self protection would clearly have been contrary to God’s call to “See to it that no one falls short of the grace of God and that no bitter root grows up to cause trouble and defile many.”  (Hebrews 12:15)

The enemy of our souls loves to take that which we leave unfinished, the small “root of bitterness,” and from it create a chasm by way of an unloving and unforgiving spirit.  Whatever part we have in the smoldering bridge, we must bring it to the cross and let the grace of God change us rather than let it slowly burn, eventually touching even our closest relationships.

There will be times, as has been the case before for me, that apologies will not be accepted, that another will not allow a passage to be rebuilt, that the relationship will not be restored.   But that is the “as far as it depends on you” part of Romans 12:18.  As we act in obedience and ask God to bring the healing and restoration as only He can, we are also modeling the grace of God before the other.  It is not our responsibility for them to accept that outreached hand, but it is the call from our Redeemer to offer it.

And, if the bridge is restored, we are to be the one to take the first step across and walk towards another for God’s glory and our great joy!

“Only love for Christ has the power to incapacitate the sturdy love for self that is the bane of every sinner, and only the grace of Christ has the power to produce that love.”      Paul David Tripp