Some days this blog weaves stories of family. Some days it's all about humor or current events. Today I want to share a truth that has saved me a lot of frustration. Hopefully, it will be valuable to you as well.
Let me start by saying, Parker Franklin is thriving under the watchful care of his doting parents. Don't misunderstand, they aren't spoiling him. I've actually heard him express displeasure several times since his birth two weeks ago. And Kristin is sleeping at least three hours each night.
Baby Boy Smith is set to make his appearance at some point later this summer. All Meagan's babies have followed the example of their mother. She started trying to be born about three months before her due date. Slow and steady is what we're praying once again over this little miracle.
But I promised a story about valuable truth and here it is:
Many years ago, I had a knock on my front door at an unusual time. The visitor I welcomed inside didn't normally drop by unannounced, so my radar went up quickly. Leaders know one thing is certain, you're never really certain what a day will bring.
The lady brushed off my offer of iced sweet tea (southern nectar) instead opting to drop right down on my couch. She had come for a purpose.
She began by apologizing for a recent incident that really had hurt several people. She was totally repentant for her part and even shed a few tears. I listened closely encouraging her expressions. But it felt like there was more to the visit. And there was.
After clearing the air, my visitor swiped at her tears with the tissue I'd offered and deftly turned the conversation. "Of course, it never would have happened if you hadn't......"
In a split second, she went from repentant to accusing. I'm sure my eyes went wide with surprise. This lady was masterful.
Thank heaven I'd been taught long ago to listen until upset individuals can run out of steam. If you're already in a private setting, interrupting them midstream seldom accomplishes anything. So I sat nodding; trying to maintain my composure.
Toward the end of her tirade she referenced an event that took place long before I even lived in her city. Another leader had indeed taken advantage at that time and this lady was still upset.
I tried gently to remind her that I hadn't even been around when that offense took place. Her response made perfect sense to her, "I know that! But you're a leader just like they were and you possibly could do what they did."
My head was spinning.
As the conversation wound down, I reached for my favorite phrase when facing a situation that's far above my pay grade, "I'll talk to Pastor Frank about this and we'll get back to you as soon as possible. For now, let's pray!"
I did talk with Frank after dinner. We were both stumped as to how we could best respond. Frank is a pastor who relies heavily on his Heavenly connection. "Let's just pray about this a few days. Then we'll get back with her."
Two days later, during my devotion time, the answer came. My dear friend and mentor, King David had experienced a similar situation. He wrote about it in Psalm 69. "Those who hate me without reason outnumber the hairs of my head." (Well, that was an exaggeration for my circumstance but it certainly helped me know he understood how I was feeling.)
Reading the next sentence was a definite "Aha!" moment for me. "I am forced to restore what I did not steal."
I literally tapped my devotion Bible and read it out loud several times. "That's it, Lord! They want me to pay back what I didn't even steal from them!"
Someone had stolen the trust of this lady and her family. She had experienced a terrible injustice at the hands of another leader. No one was disputing that fact. But the Someone who did it wasn't ME!
Fortunately, I had gotten up extra early that morning. I had plenty of time to sit and ponder what I sensed the Father whispering to me through this scripture.
It's true, many times leaders are impacted by the poor choices of those who've gone before them. No one is perfect. We're all broken; we all need a Savior. No human being gets it right all the time. So picking up an offense about what they did, doesn't help at all.
If the Father (who looks on the heart of man) finds enough grace in your tank, He very well may tap you to bring healing where another has wounded.
Now we can yell, "Not Fair!" and He won't require it of us. But His ultimate goal is to bring healing to all those who ask for it. If you aren't the conduit of healing, He'll simply look for another venue.
Perhaps you too have found yourself in situations dealing with people still angry about past offenses. They can't get to the person who committed the injustice, so they attack you instead. Dear reader, hurting people hurt people. It's just that simple.
Is this a difficult mission? Absolutely! Do people recognize your sacrifice? Seldom! Is there really a purpose? Always!
You see, there's a flip side to this seemingly unfair request from our Father. He keeps excellent records. When you or I offer ourselves as conduits of healing for others, we also become conduits of blessing!
He promises in Deuteronomy 6:10, we will eat from vineyards we didn't plant. In other words, when we "pay back what we didn't steal" our Father smiles. He makes note of our generous spirit and rewards us with blessings we don't really deserve.
Not bad, being rewarded by the King of Heaven, right?!
After much more prayer, my husband went to this lady and her husband with the strength of humility. As a leader, he apologized to them for the hurt they had experienced at the hands of another and asked their forgiveness.
I'm not sure healing came to them at that point. They had held to their hurt for many years and sometimes it's hard to let go of what has become familiar to us - even pain. But that couple did tell others about the experience they had with Pastor Frank. In fact, they told many people.
Others who heard the story quickly recognized the wisdom of their shepherd. Their hearts were healed and they were able to trust him totally. We began to experience blessing from many sources where we hadn't even planted.
If you're asked to do so, don't be afraid to pay back what you didn't steal. Choose to be generous. God keeps good records!
Have you had a similar experience? You story may be an encouragement to someone. We'd love to hear your comments: