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Remove the Stones
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We all know people who have left home, never to return. They leave with a cloud hanging over their closest connections resulting from a long list of possible hurts, rejections or abuses. What is it that keeps people from going home? The emotional pull is always there; but sometimes the outer pull is stronger than the inner pull.

Exile and homecoming are major themes of the Scriptures. They are also major themes of our lives. Relationships are dynamic, changeable. We ebb closer or drift apart. Unfortunately, the forces that push us apart are often stronger than the bonds that hold us together.

There is a passage of Scripture which speaks to the restoration of Jerusalem and her inhabitants. Not only is the physical restoration of the city predicted, but the relational aspects of restoration are celebrated, as well. Isaiah 62:10 speaks of a joyous homecoming: “Go out through the gates! Prepare the highway for my people to return! Smooth out the road; pull out the boulders; raise a flag for all the nations to see.”

What would it look like in our families to “remove the stones” and “smooth out the road” for those wanting to head home?

Perhaps there is unfinished business that needs to be addressed. Maybe a grudge needs to be let go; that angry, unresolved conflict resolved. Pride may need to be swallowed for the sake of reconciliation. Certainly we see the wisdom in getting past our personal hurts for the bigger, greater cause of “removing the stones” so the exiles have a smooth path on which to return home.

Work Toward Restoration

Sometimes family members are exiled emotionally; sometimes actual physical separation has occurred. Whatever the cause of exile, we are encouraged to work toward restoration.

If you don’t have the capacity to see the boulders or stones that obstruct the homeward trail, you may need objective help. And there is help available. Ask God for the will to “remove the stones.” Pray for the ability to make the exile’s return as easy as possible. Claim God’s promise to remove hearts of stone and replace them with hearts of fleshboth yours and your exiled one’s heart (Ezekiel 36:26).

Our heavenly Father is broken-hearted when He sees our unreconciled human relationships. His desire is for all our relationship stories to end with the return of the exiles. His brand of love doesn’t hold grudges or seek one’s own personal agenda (see 1 Corinthians 13, in case you need a refresher course on love). Only this supernatural love makes true reconciliation possible. Only a love that seeks the welfare of others over one’s own needs is the kind of love that will work to remove the barriers that stand in the way of family reconciliation.

What obstacles stand in the way of a joyous homecoming in your family? May God grant us His love that longs for and works for the return of the exiles!

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By Nancy Gerard. Copyright © 2014 by GraceNotes. All rights reserved. Use of this material is subject to usage guidelines. Scripture taken from the NEW LIVING TRANSLATION © 1982 and the NEW INTERNATIONAL VERSION ®.

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