Wednesday, May 9, 2018

Waiting for the Olive Branch

If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness. 1 John 1:9

Have you ever heard the term “extend the olive branch”?  Just exactly what do we mean when we use that expression?
The expression “extend an olive branch” means an offer of peace or reconciliation.  It originates from the bible in Genesis when Noah sent the dove from the ark and it came back with an olive branch.  
Olive branches symbolize peace.  Olive trees take many years to mature and it has been said that war is typically very hard on olives because people cannot take the time to nurture them and plant new trees.  Thus, an offer of an olive branch means that person is tired of war, whether it is an actual war or just a disagreement between friends.  
In Ancient Greek and Roman history, people would offer actual olive branches.  Roman armies that had been defeated would carry olive branches as a symbol they were surrendering.  
When I think of someone extending an olive branch it makes me think of someone wanting to make peace – reconcile. Recently it has dawned on me what great significance this really is for us, and a balm to a broken heart that is mourning a wrong they have inflicted on another.
Brother Van has preached many sermons on forgiveness and most of the focus was on us forgiving others, but sometimes we are the ones needing forgiveness from someone.  When we are in an argument or we have wronged someone and we really want to make things right, waiting for the olive branch to be extended to you can feel like an eternity.  Here are some things that might be helpful during that time.
  • Pray - First and foremost, pray for God’s healing and forgiveness toward you for what you have done and for His guidance in this situation. Pray for His hand to be on you, help you know what to say and give you some peace.  Pray for the person you have wronged as well.  Pray for their healing and peace in this situation. Pray for the walls to be torn down so complete healing can take place.
  • Reach Out – You may want to reach out to the person you have wronged, ask forgiveness, and try to bridge the gap.  Be aware that this person may not react as quickly as you want them to. You are hurting, knowing your part and wanting to make amends.  They are hurting and may not be open to you enough at this point to allow that connection.  
  • Wait –Keep praying and wait upon the Lord.  It is so hard and it seems like time just crawls by but all you can do is give it to Him and let him be in control.  You have done your part and even though it makes you feel so bad and it hurts, you cannot control whether or not another person will forgive you, let alone have a relationship with you again. 
I know that when I am at odds with someone it feels bad.  I feel awful and I cannot concentrate and focus on the things I need to do.  Just one little bit of positive communication can make me feel so much better.  So, remember if you are the one who needs to forgive someone, just one little extension of an olive branch is so important.  It is like a drink of water in a dry and thirsty desert.  It is a craving so strong and consuming.  You long for closure provided by forgiveness. If you do not receive the forgiveness you desire, you may just have to move on.  Know that you have done what you could and accept God’s forgiveness, and forgive yourself.  
Scripture to Claim:
By this we shall know that we are of the truth and reassure our heart before him; for whenever our heart condemns us, God is greater than our heart, and he knows everything. 1 John 3:19-20  ESV 

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