Momentum (Christ – centred, Spirit – empowered, Mission – focused)
There is something powerful about finishing well. This is especially true if the circumstances were difficult and messy. In my role as a District Superintendent, I was often called into situations where a church leader was concluding his or her ministry. In some of these cases, pain was evident. Often, the missing ingredient was the space for healthy closure.
I wonder if God is calling us to healthy closure in this season of spiritual renewal.
Recently, I was invited to a Sunrise/Sunset service at a church where I had previously pastored. The idea was to embrace the new beginnings (sunrise) and release some of the difficult events of the past (sunset). In other words, it was a daring adventure to both risk and release. It was the release or closure that was most significant to me.
When I pastored this church, I had the opportunity to meet and disciple an amazing young man. He eventually became the worship leader. When I left my position at the church, I was very excited about the future of this young leader. I was then devastated when I heard the news that he had experienced a damaging, personal failure. One of my most difficult moments in ministry was sitting on the discipline committee that would suspend his license. His journey was full of hardships for several years, but God was always faithful.
He attended the Sunrise/Sunset service along with his wife and daughter. He shared a few words and sang a song that he had written about his journey to healing. He began with these powerful words, “When I left this church I did not ‘finish well;’ I have come back tonight to ‘finish better.’”
He spoke of the pain and disappointment that he had caused and asked us all to forgive him. The words of the song were raw and compelling;
Does anyone see me broken? Hey, sir, can you wipe away the stain so it’s gone? Can anyone take this chip away and break this rusty chain that held me here so long? All I know is that I made a mess this time; we can’t change the things we’ve done. Is there some way now to erase somehow this whole thing that I’ve become?”
The climax of the song ended with the first verse of “Amazing Grace.” It was a powerful reminder that God never gives up on us. His grace is always enough, and he is the one who brings eternal closure to the shameful and painful events of our lives.
He finished with these words: “Tonight, I want to put a period at the end of a very ugly sentence.” And he did! Everyone stood to their feet and filled the room with applause. It was the power of “healthy closure.”
Lack of “healthy closure” casts a shadow over everyone involved. It may not be spoken, but it is felt. When closure does happen, the shadow is lifted and the fresh breeze of freedom fills the room. The room felt physically lighter in that moment.
I recognize that “healthy closure” is not possible in every situation. The complexities are often enormous, and the potential of doing more damage is always present.
For some, “closure” will come within the first few seconds of our arrival in heaven; everything will be reframed in the light of his glory and grace. There may be others who are reading these words and are sensing that God wants them to open the door of “finishing better.” It may be a leader that needs to apologize to a church, or a church that needs to apologize to a leader, or both. It may be within a family or a workplace other than the church.
The apostle Paul expressed it this way, “If it is possible, as far as it depends on you, live at peace with everyone” (Romans 12:18).
In other words, “seek healthy closure.”
Not every situation ends with a song and gift basket; but if there is a step you need to take, I dare you to take the first stride. Perhaps it is time to “put a period at the end of a very ugly sentence.”
Please find the original version in C&MA website