By Rob Furlong
In November, 1990 I was standing in Pearl Harbour listening to an elderly, retired United States navy man tell his story about the day the Japanese bombed Pearl Harbour.
I had joined a free, guided tour around the harbour and the scene of the United States' entry into World War Two.
Our guide was around 19 years of age at the time of the attack and as he retold his story the day I was there, he also spoke of the anger and rage he felt as he fired round after round into the sky at enemy planes.
Then he said something that caught my attention.
"Folks", he asked kindly, "Have you ever felt like you are out of the will of God?"
Given the silence of the rest of the group around me, he obviously had their attention as well!
He went on to explain that in that very moment of anger, death and destruction, he knew he was out of the will of God!
Quite a statement from an elderly man to a group of tourists.
He then told us how he had signed up to the navy despite the fact he knew God had called him to be a preacher.
So, upon the conclusion of the War, having been discharged from the Navy, he obeyed God and became a Presbyterian minister for the rest of his life.
Then came the punchline to his story.
He went on to tell how one of the Japanese pilots bombing Pearl Harbour also became a committed Christian and minister after the war.
Decades later, the two former enemies met with the Japanese pastor preaching in the old navy man's church in Hawaii!
As he brought his story to its conclusion, he held up a photograph of the two men, once alienated by culture, hatred and ideology, now embracing each other and reconciled before the Cross that stood in the church.
Every one of us is living in a world divided bitterly along racial, political and ideological lines.
News services bring us reports every day of nations at war with each other or the latest violent protest over an unpopular decision.
And we read of relational breakdowns in marriages and families that all too often end with murder or suicide as the only "solution".
Russian author, Aleksandr Solzhenitsyn, once commented:
"If only it were all so simple! If only there were evil people somewhere insidiously committing evil deeds, and it were necessary only to separate them from the rest of us and destroy them. But the line dividing good and evil cuts through the heart of every human being."
When a marriage breaks down, it is all too easy to blame the other person, thinking he or she needs to change.
But as Solzhenitsyn points out, "good and evil" courses through the heart of every human being.
Blaming the other person will not reconcile us.
Ignoring or trying to change the past will not reconcile us.
Mere words will not reconcile us.
But Jesus will.
That is the point of the Cross. There a dying thief finds reconciliation and peace with God.
There a man, Peter, who denies his Lord, finds reconciliation.
And there I have found peace and reconciliation - with my sin, my past, with people and with God. I still struggle a lot and I don't always love people as well as I should.
But I know this: reconciliation begins with me, reaching out to people who at times both annoy and drive me crazy but with the sincere hope that perhaps they will see Jesus in me and be reconciled to Him.
Is your marriage in trouble?
My prayer for you is that you will ask Jesus to bring His peace to your hungry and wounded soul.
Then take the first step yourself to reconcile with your husband or wife. •