Wednesday, April 13, 2016

Reconciliation, Redemption, and Restoration

These three words are distinct but intertwined. They all are tied to relationships. Due to this, in our culture, and perhaps others, we tend to enjoy stories and events with them as elements, such as those that take a terrible situation and brings a sense of peace. One of my favorite movies is The Royal Tenenbaums. Though crude at points, this is a movie about redemption and reconciliation. Not to ruin the plot too much for those who have never seen it, the father attempts to become reconciled to his family. His motives and tactics are both certainly questionable to start. However, as the movie progresses, the change becomes evident as he tries to make amends. At the end, the final redemption for his terrible choices in life is the sacrifice of his life for those of other characters in the movie. Poignant and beautiful, enough to cause a surge of emotion even in myself.

Another movie centered around reconciliation is Invictus, about South Africa's apartheid and Nelson Mandela. The white and black South Africans had been torn apart by racism. At one point in the movie, a vote is held to change the national rugby team from the Springboks, which the black South Africans held to be a remnant of the racist era. Mandela pushed against the change, because he recognized if they took that away from the white South Africans, then reunification of the whole country would become harder and harder. In the end of the movie, both groups are united as one, cheering for their team, a considerably decent start to reconciliation after the decades of hate.

There's also restoration found in nature. As we lived in Joplin at the time of the tornado, that was a horrific period. I worked in the disaster area, clearing electronics out of houses. Even though our apartment was off the tornado path, I had a daily reminder of the destruction. This wore on me, even giving me a minor case of PTSD. However, one redeeming part was as I noticed the maimed trees start to regain their leaves. Some, with barely any remaining limbs, had leaves coming out the stubs and even off the trunks themselves. I felt it was a reminder that it would eventually be okay.

Nature has a tendency to overtake and redeem items of destruction, as well. I read an article a few weeks ago about decommissioned oil rigs. These behemoth structures, sitting alone in the mass of water, have come to life even within their wake of death. Ironically, there is a team of scientist/conservationists fighting to keep them standing. Underneath the water, interwoven with the metal lattices are complete ecosystems. Coral grows freely as fish swim unhindered, both within relatively calm waters thanks to the design of the rigs. What once brought death in the form of pollution now brings a refuge.

These examples of reconciliation, redemption, and restoration, both human and nature made, also serve as reminders for us. We can help others going through situations that we have experienced. Not only in spite of the crap we've gone through, but because of it. It is part of why we trust Jesus, as he has faced what we have faced (on a less technological and industrial scale). He knows life is hard and it is not all roses. So whether you give solace to friends from your experiences or you take solace from Jesus, the redemption of the situation can be found, now or in the hereafter.*


*For the love of God please do not tell people that what they are going through has a reason. Just because “in all things God works for the good of those who love him” does not imply a reason for why they are going through it in the first place. This goes from the stress of job hunting to miscarriage. Either sit shiva with your friend or stay out of it.

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