A young man hired himself out to a neighboring farmer for the summer. The farmer turned out to be a strict boss who worked the boy very hard. Finally, the young man decided to claim his revenge. Late one night he took fifty pounds of Johnson’s grass, one of the most despised nuisances a farmer can face, and sowed it into the farmer’s fields.
A little while afterwards the young man happened to meet the farmer’s beautiful daughter. The young couple fell in love and, after a suitable courtship, got married. That made the young man family and destined him to work the farm for the rest of his life. Years later someone asked him how his life on the farm had been. He answered, “Wonderful, but I’ve spent all these years digging up Johnson grass.”
Moses once warned the tribes of Reuben and Gad, “Be sure your sin will find you out” (Numbers 32:23). We should all heed that warning. God doesn’t miss a thing, and He seems to take great pleasure in looping our sin back around and nailing us with it.
When I was in my late teens and early twenties, I fell completely out of church. Even worse, when some of my fellow church members said and did things that I didn’t think were very Christian, I criticized the church every chance I got. One day an old church member named Charlie said to me, “We’d sure like to have you back at church.” I looked at him and said, “I don’t want to go to church with a bunch of hypocrites.” Then I walked off. I thought, “Boy, I sure told him.”
A few years later, when the Lord broke me, I rededicated my life to Christ and got back into church. Since Charlie was there every time the doors were open, I had to somehow deal with the Johnson grass I had planted. My sin had found me out. Finally, I went up to him and apologized for what I had said. He just smiled and said, “Son, don’t worry about that. It’s alright.” That was very gracious, and it taught me a lesson about forgiveness.
In Luke 15:11-32, we find Christ’s famous story of the prodigal son. In the story, the son sins against his father by asking for his inheritance while the father is still very much alive. It’s bad when your father is worth more dead to you than alive. The boy was sowing his Johnson grass. He had to deal with that grass when he blew his entire inheritance, hit rock bottom in a foreign land, and had to come crawling back home. And what did the boy say to his father upon his return? “Father, I have sinned against heaven and in your sight.” There it is. That’s how you say, “I’m sorry for the way I treated you.” And what did the father do? He played the role of Charlie by instructing his servants to clothe the boy in the finest apparel and throw a great feast for him.
Take an honest look over your past and see if you have sinned against someone to such a degree that you need to apologize or ask for their forgiveness. Please understand, I’m not trying to get you to needlessly poke a stick at a calm hornet’s nest or reignite a dormant volcano. The fact is, some situations just need to be left alone. But if God presses His finger directly on some old scar, you need to deal with that.
It might mean making a phone call. It might mean sending an email. It might mean writing a letter. It might mean paying a visit. But whatever God burdens you to do, do it. You’ve dug enough Johnson grass over the situation. You’ve regretted what you did a million times. Now it is time to remedy things as best you can.
And don’t be afraid. The world is filled with Charlies who are just waiting to graciously forgive and release you of your guilt. But you’ve got to take the initiative in the matter. Will it involve laying your pride in the dust? Sure. Will it mean admitting you were in the wrong? Oh, yeah. But will you regret doing it? No way. The regret is in continuing to live with the shame.