15 by Ace Collins

And Jesus said unto him, “Verily I say unto thee, Today shalt thou be with me in paradise.”

Luke 23:43

“Can The Circle Be Unbroken” was written by noted hymn composer Charles Gabriel and his partner Ada Habershon. It had been popular in southern churches for at least a generation when country music star A.P. Carter reworked it in 1935 and brought his famed Carter Family into the studio to cut the number.

The question asked in “Can The Circle Be Unbroken” is a haunting one. The answer requires having enough faith to believe that Jesus meant what He said in Luke 23. He promised that all who believed in Him would have a life beyond earth. In making the promise He assured us that even if earthly relationships might come and go, our bond with Jesus would remain solid forever.

Standing on the faith that our relationship with the Lord is eternal, perhaps it is time to consider the state of our earthly relationships. How do we stand with our family and our friends? Is there a petty issue keeping us from someone we love? Is there something we can do to fix that problem?

It has been written that the two most difficult words to say are “I’m sorry.” The next three most challenging words to verbalize are “I forgive you.” In most cases, even if those words are pushed from our lips, they are followed by a much longer sentence that begins with, “but . . .” It is that latter qualifying word that makes “I’m sorry” and “I forgive you” mute. There is no real apology or forgiveness if we limit it by further explanation. Jesus didn’t forgive us and then add “but I want you to know that I told you so” or “this wouldn’t have happened if you had listened to me.” And neither should we.

If we truly want to repair relationships, we must be willing to love and forgive unconditionally. That means laying judgment to one side and taking the first step forward. Love is not about coming up to a set of predetermined standards. If that were the case, then Jesus wouldn’t have shown love to the woman at the well or anyone else. None who have lived have come close to the standards set by Christ. Rather than picking up stones and tossing them or stubbornly waiting for a friend or loved one to approach us, we must make the first step. That is what Jesus would do and did do countless times. If a circle in your life is broken, maybe it is time to see if simply saying, “I’m sorry,” “I forgive you” or “I love you” will fix it. Even if it doesn’t, it is still a good start.

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