Then Abimelech took sheep and oxen, and male servants and female servants, and gave them to Abraham, and returned Sarah his wife to him. And Abimelech said, “Behold, my land is before you; dwell where it pleases you.” Genesis 20:14-15
While working through the twelve steps, eventually I got to step nine, which said I must make amends to those whom I’d harmed in my addiction. There were some relationships I had to address immediately. For others though, it’s been a gradual process of simply running into those individuals and taking the opportunity to address the issue. This hasn’t always been easy. When I run into someone for the first time since recovery – someone who was hurt by my actions – it can be awkward. It’s uncomfortable for them and it’s humbling for me to bring up the past. I’ve found that almost everyone has been gracious, but still, it would be easier to simply pretend that nothing ever happened. Then however, I’d never move past that point in the relationship. Every time I saw him or her, we’d still be stuck in that awkward place. So, for others, and for my own recovery, I’ve had to humbly address the past, doing what I can to make amends.
Today’s passage is about making amends. In it, King Abimelech had taken Sarah, Abraham’s wife as his own. It wasn’t entirely his fault as Abraham led everyone to believe that Sarah was his sister, not his wife. God confronted Abimelech though and he repented. In making amends, Abimelech gave Abraham servants, livestock, and land. As king, Abimelech could have punished Abraham, but because he feared God, Abimelech recognized his offense and made amends. This must have been humbling for a king – sacrificing part of his estate for this outsider. He likely didn’t know it at the time, but Abimelech’s sacrifice wasn’t just for Abraham’s good. In making Amends, King Abimelech found healing as well. God healed Abimelech, and also healed his wife and female slaves so that they bore children. For the LORD had closed all the wombs of the house of Abimelech because of Sarah, Abraham’s wife (Genesis 20:17-18).
Living by faith and recovery means that we must attempt to make amends to those we’ve hurt. This isn’t just for the alcoholic in recovery though. This is for all of us. Yes, making amends is for the good of those we’ve offended, but it’s also for our own good. Part of the recovery process is to humble ourselves, sacrificing of our own, to make up for past wrongs. If we remain unwilling to do this, we’ll find ourselves stuck in the brokenness of the past. In making amends though, we find healing for others, our relationships with them, and for ourselves.