The “Letter of Paul to Philemon” is a short book of the Bible tucked into the late part of the New Testament; if you blink you’ll miss it. But it is a powerful letter that is the backdrop for a story of a fresh start, a second chance made possible by the grace of God.
Philemon and Onesimus had been estranged; the letter does not reveal the reason. Paul is now writing to Philemon to encourage him to reconcile with Onesimus, to be in relationship again, as a beloved brother.
There is power in reconciliation. In the same way that forgiveness does not condone the preceding harm, reconciliation does not ignore the estrangement that precedes it. Reconciliation simply moves on from there. Reconciliation is a fresh start on a relationship that carries its baggage along for the journey.
With whom do you need to sense the power of reconciliation? A family member you’ve been fighting with? A friend you haven’t seen in weeks or months? There’s no need to pretend that the estrangement didn’t happen. In fact to do so would be unhealthy. Why not take a risk, reach out to them, and let them know you still love them?
The baggage of the estrangement will be heavy at first, but over time it will lighten. The burden will grow less and less as the relationship is nurtured in grace, until it will be all but imperceptible. And then you will be so much closer to living the life God desires for you.
When we are struck by grace, we can only barely begin to imagine the possibilities of what God might do.