Taking the first step
In one of his adventures, Barnabas, the cartoon Bible character developed by Rev. Graham Jeffery, is shown marching off to have his swords made into plowshares. n1 The task once accomplished, he learns that his enemies, the Philistines, still have their swords. This is quite a shock, since he was under the impression that they had alreadym been to the blacksmith! Deciding that it doesnht pay to be too much in advance of one's time, he marches back and has the job reserved.
n1 The Barnabas Biblem (New York: Harper & Row, Publishers, 1973), pp. 60-63,
It's not always easy to take that first step on the road to reconciliation. Burying the hatchet demands much, but especially much of the one that feels a sincere desire to attempt rebuilding the relationship. The demand, in essence, is humility.
This unfeigned desire can be a beginning step to a better understanding of man -- the child God has created to represent His perfection. As humility develops in us, our viewpoint becomes more enlightened. We are often enabled to replace distrust of another with confidence, fear with respect.
"Experience shows that humility is the first step in Christian Science," writes Mary Baker Eddy, who discovered and founded this Science, "wherein all is controlled, not by man or laws material, but by wisdom, Truth, Love." n2 This type of humility certainly doesn't mean being a doormat. In fact, it requires strength -- the strength to acknowledge a divine control of all creation, under the providence of god, good.
Jacob probably faced an array of disturbing feelins when he was directed by God to return to a home that he had fled many years before because of a deception he had perpetrated. Now he was to face his brother Esau, who had threatened to kill him. n3
n2 Miscellaneous Writings,m p. 354;
n3 See Genesis 32:24-30;
The night before the meeting, Jacob wrestled with "a man." Since the Bible also says he was alone, this "man" must have been Jacob's false concept of himself. As he prayed, Jacob apparently grasped something of his true selfhood as spiritual, not incorporating greed, deceit, or disloyalty. In fact, he was so changed by this spiritual enlightenment that his name was changed -- to Israel. He also had a new view of his brother, one that revealed more of God's man, expressing joy, peace, love. This answer to his prayer impelled him forward. Humbly trusting God's control, he found in the meeting a new and positive rapport with his brother. The Bible records that Essau "ran to meet him, and embraced him, and fell on his neck, and kissed him." n4
If, through prayer, we feel genuinely contrire, or filled with forgiveness, depending on whether we're the misguided or the wronged, and long now for a renewed relationship, we don't need to fear how we'll be received by the one we're approaching. I learned this once when a dispute broke out at work. My heart, at first filled with anger toward my co- worker, eventually warmed with love as I acknowledged God's control over every individual. And my first step back -- a step that was rooted in spiritual impulse -- was met literally with open arms, and it began a new friendship.
Is the Bible speaking directly to you, virtually in terms of a command, when it says, "Thou shalt be called, The repairer of the breach?" n5 Taking that first step of reparation can be an occasion filled with confidence -- a certainty that not only has God prepared you to take this step, but He has prepared someone else to respond.
n5 Isaiah 58:15.