Right long-standing wrongs

Right long-standing wrongs

There was a reason I felt compelled to study Ephesians 4 the last two weeks, and it came into clarity for me as the story developed right before my eyes in real time. 

Regular readers of this column may remember that I recently wrote about not allowing the sun to go down on our wrath. I have gotten to know the story of two good men, brothers born four years apart to steady, hard working parents that loved them and provided a safe home, fun things to do, and good morals. The boys were fortunate enough to be born on the water where they learned to follow their father fishing, crabbing and shrimping. They had dogs and often ran with their pets to the water’s edge where both the boys and the dogs would swim to their hearts’ content. Both young men made fast friendships with other kids in the community and graduated from high school and went into the workforce to make their own way in the world.

They remained close friends for a time, and along with their five sisters, had a large extended family where gatherings, cookouts, fish frys and the like were the norm and often anticipated. All seven of the kids chose to live on or near water, and all are still alive and healthy even into their 70s and 80s. However, a sad thing happened along the way to the two brothers. They had a falling out, a disagreement, an ugly exchange of words about three years ago that severed this long-term closeness.

It made everyone in the family sad, and no one seemed to know what to do about making it right again. They have not spoken one word to each other since that time and even when the older brother lost his dear wife of some 38 years, the younger brother refused to go to the memorial service or to help console his older sibling in any way. The sisters tried to talk to the brother and attempted to explain that he perhaps would live to regret this action, but to no avail. The older brother was saddened yet again and grieved over the loss of his younger brother’s attention.

A few short weeks ago, the younger brother, now 70, was rushed to the hospital very near death. His heart is in very bad shape and he survived two major surgical procedures to place six stents in his body. He is alive but still in care. When he was dismissed from the hospital, the younger brother was taken to the home of a caring sister who would help to nurse him back to some semblance of health. The older brother received a phone call and was made aware of the situation but did not know what to do about the matter. He said often he did not want to make matters worse or to cause any undue stress on his brother that was so very ill.

I asked the feared question: “What caused you two to be at odds like this?” In a nutshell, the older brother strongly disagreed with the manner in which the younger brother treated his very ill wife. He abandoned her during a long struggle with cancer and chose to take up with a younger woman, according to family members. The wife struggled but is still living. The disagreement led to a heated exchange where the view of the elder brother was made abundantly clear. There was also an issue of a lost $1,800, which doesn’t even matter in the grand scheme of things. Neither needed the money.

Given the answer, I then asked, “Is it worth it?” I mused aloud, “What if your brother dies, and you two have not mended this fence? Can you live with that?”

I witnessed his turmoil and sorrow and finally got up my courage to make a suggestion: “Why don’t you call your sister, the caregiver to your brother, and ask her if she would ask your brother if you might come to visit him?” After some time went by, he said, “You might be right. Perhaps I should be the bigger person and make the first move. I wouldn’t want my brother to die with things like this between us.” And, so he placed the telephone call and waited for an answer.

After the call had been made, he smiled and said, “You know, I don’t really know how this will work out, but I do know one thing. I have made the first move. I have offered the olive branch that I should have offered a long time ago. I am hoping that my brother wants me to visit, but even if he is still mad and says, “No,” I can rest easy knowing I have genuinely tried to reach out to him.

You see both of these good men had allowed Satan to get involved and to cause them to be angry beyond belief with one another. The sun had gone down many nights on their wrath, and I can tell you from fact and personal experience that the longer a wrong goes not righted, the more difficult it becomes to break down those barriers and make that approach. Please pray for this family and do not allow the same circumstances to happen to yours.