The story was a classic in my father’s sermons.
To this day, however, I remember the wisdom of a mere boy’s response to a prospective employer when asked his greatest skill:
I can sleep on windy nights.
Unimpressive, unimpressive that is, until one feels the cold winds blow across the barnyard, and hears shutters and doors crashing, sees the unsecured property tumbling across the yard, stores suddenly exposed to the elements, livestock startled and scared, pushing and pressing against unlocked pens. To be able to sleep the sleep of the righteous when everybody whose work isn’t done launches into a panic is impressive to me, indeed.
I don’t mind admitting that my fly-by-the-seat-of-my-pants kind of temperament makes it easy to put off until the last minute critical resolutions. I constantly guard against the temptation to let things work themselves out. Some people never get the chance to do that.
So, I was more than warmed by the story of family reconciliation after years of cold separation told by our friend and colleague, Dr. Jerome Hurst of Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. It started with a 17 year-old boy who sought to know Jesus for himself.
As members of Hurst’s church distributed magazines and books in a grocery store parking lot, they were shooed off the property—you know how ya’ll are whenever someone tries to “share.” I digress. It was in that moment that this 17 year-old African American boy, asked the question, “Who is this Jesus I hear people talking about?”
After a conversation, and a meetup, this boy—in 2022—commits to studying the Bible to find “this Jesus,” and then decides he wants to follow Him. The young man resolved to being in the next baptism and naturally, he wanted his family there to see it. He invited his mother, aunt, and two sisters, but you know how ya’ll are when mother has beef with her sister, and we’re all beefin’ and no one is showing up for each other.
Sure enough, acting on the laws of polarity, rather than the bonds of relationship, mother and her sister repelled each other’s presence, and mother walked out. That’s when one of the Bible teachers that had studied with the young man stopped her—not to give a Bible study—but to teach in that moment two critical points:
- We show up for each other. Period.
- Now is the time to make that happen.
You know that moment—when suddenly, you realize what you have lost in the conflict with a loved one? And, for once, you see them again as the loved one you once knew, or the friend just as surely knit to your heart? The moment when in crystal clarity, you realize that you can actually live in this world together. Or, at least you wouldn’t want to live in this world without them? To stand in good stead, you would trade it all, hard feelings, history, and all the water under the bridge.
“Reconciliation has much to do with transformation,” Hurst told us. “It’s the moving from a place of separation, hurt, and brokenness to a place of healing, wholeness, forgiveness, and reunion.”
I’ll let Hurst finish the story in his own words.
“The whole message of the Gospel is one of reconciliation: A people who sinned over and over against God were given Jesus to believe in, model after, and follow, so that in their faith and following they could uncover their path back to God and full unity.”
“But we cannot be reconciled to God if we are not reconciled to others. What God offers in forgiving us and wiping away every trace of our sin is not a gift for us only. As a member of God’s household, we are brothers and sisters with everyone else, too.”
“Supposedly, family means that no one gets left behind. During our ReLaunch Revival we were able to see not only individuals being reconciled to God, but families being reconciled one to another. Twenty-two of the 28 individuals that were baptized came from six families. Over and over we experienced a baptismal candidate who went and shared the message with family members, who then made the decision to be baptized as well.”
That moment, is what conflict resolution specialists call the “ah ha” moment. It is divine. It is a miracle of understanding and grace. I believe it is the work of the Spirit of God.
“As God would have it she did come back inside,” Hurst said finishing the story. “On this particular night the evangelist was preaching on forgiveness. The message brought the mother to tears and during the appeal she, along with her two daughters, accepted the call to surrender to God and be baptized.”
Don’t wait for the windy night. Handle your business now, and get some sleep.
This article is part of our 2022 September/October Issue