While the frame of reference is a hike to up Benton Falls, in Polk County, Tennessee, the subject matter is reconciliation, and specifically with my father-in-law, a PCA Elder, Jim Cross.
On Sunday, May 27, 2018, almost a year later, the same hike was done with the same friend, but this time not to the falls, but to the lake at the top. We did a bit over 6 miles each way, and about 2000 feet up. It was not constantly up, but up, down, up, etc. Our total distance was fairly close to half a marathon, but not on flat ground.
A delight in the hike was that we both had moments of willingness not to complete our venture. However, the other person offered the encouragement to press on, and when we got to the falls, it was press on almost two more miles to the top. Encouraging one another, what a good idea! While the context is different in 1Th 4:18 and 5:11, If we can’t encourage one another to complete a hike, can we encourage on another to follow the Lord?
The hike in 2018 was a joy. The constant and now many year friendship with another man who continually challenges and encourages me to follow the Lord is an intense joy. Jim Cross has become more distant, and I grieve.
However, I was recently reminded of a quote from Kierkegaard:
Never cease loving a person, and never give up hope for him, for even the prodigal son who had fallen most low, could still be saved; the bitterest enemy and also he who was your friend could again be your friend; love that has grown cold can kindle.
Jim Cross, I continue in my effort to love you as my brother and reconcile with you.