A few years back, I was blessed to do a Bible study here in Albia which was heavily attended and featured doing a Bible study based on episodes of the old Andy Griffith Show. It was a study where we watched an episode and had workbooks and discussions of key issues of life and the Bible teachings. It was fun and illuminating. I always kind of wanted to do another similar but never have. But if I did, I would do one on one of my favorite shows, maybe favorite- The Waltons. The Waltons was, of course, a long running program about a Depression era family in rural Virginia on Walton’s Mountain which is actually in Schuyler, Virginia. Earl Hamner developed the show and patterned the character John Boy after his own life.

There were so many spiritual lessons in the program. It was a program that combined cultural Southern Baptist religion, New Deal inspired Social Gospel and mankind’s spirituality need. There was almost always a message of spiritual or moral development. Two of my favorite characters including my favorite, were Zebulon and Esther Walton, the grandparents.

Grandma was a detail driven, traditional outspoken Baptist and Grandpa was a more easy going spiritual person. But their love story in the show was a real feature. Granted Grandma would get really put out at Zeb who was way more outgoing than her and who strained her patience with his pool playing and frequent visits to Flossie Brimmer’s Boarding House, the Dew Drop Inn and to visit often the Baldwin sisters and share the recipe or sitting at Druscilla’s Pond where there was a statue that reminded him of an old flame. But whenever Grandma was put out with him, the story always made it clear that those two had a love for each other that was unbreakable and for the ages.

In the episode ‘The Baptism’, Olivia, the mom, had a real challenge with John, the dad. A fire and brimstone preacher had come to town and Olivia wants all the kids to go and hear him. John, though, resents the minister screaming at the kids. From it, a resolution comes and all grow in their faith. In another episode where John Boy is called upon to do a sermon, there is a great scene where he and Grandpa go to the mountain and discuss God. Grandpa tells John Boy that it is important to remember that God created man on the sixth day, which should humbly remind us of our place in the world. But one of my favorite lines comes from John Boy, “Our Lord must be very great indeed to be able to encompass so many different kinds of feelings and so many different kinds of people in His everlasting love.”

In episode after episode, issues of faith, racial relations, forgiveness, old age, and a plethora of life issues were presented

Yes, the Waltons was a program of which many a Bible lesson could be done and for which our media needs more of. That leads me to this for the day. The Waltons was a story, so much, about relationships. All of us are in one or another whether at home, at work, or in dating, or in church, etc. Many relationships, that look so solid and are so good in our world can flatten out and get damaged badly for a multitude of reasons. But as the Waltons was good at showing, so too does the Bible show that God is in the restoration business. Damaged or broken relationships cause pain but almost any damaged or broken relationship can be repaired if both people want it to be. It takes an intentional, dedicated effort with lots of patience and forgiveness but through prayer and persistence and God, it can be done with glowing results.

To do that, four basic steps need done.

1. Both parties need to apologize to each other for outbursts, breakdowns and misunderstandings and it is imperative that no one person is entirely at fault. It takes two. There is always something that each person did not say or did, did or did not do, that contributed to anger, hurt or bitterness. Genuinely choosing to forgive is critical. But forgiving means forgetting, too.

Secondly, while not trying to remake the other person, plans should be made to make necessary adjustments, things that bring renewed bonding and quality time to reboot the relationship, two steps forward, one back so to speak, but always working for progress.

Thirdly, agree mutually to rebuild. That takes a mutual choice.

Fourthly, agree to move forward and let the past really be the past. Don’t blame or harbor resentments and learn to compromise. There are many ways to get to a united point, not just one person’s way. Don’t bring up old hurts, don’t let your mind feed on frustrations, sorrows and discouragement or disappointment. Be an optimist. Be confident and look for the good. Act positively consistently. Ask God to take charge and let Him.

Fifthly, make it a habit to pray together often and ask for His healing touch and guidance. If God is invited into the process, He can renew things and make relationships better than ever before. Those five ideas come from no other than God’s Word and the great teaching of Dr. Charles Stanley.

The Waltons almost always had a happy ending. Relationships can too, in the workplace, church, dating, marriages, etc, if we follow them closely. God makes it clear in Romans 12:18 that He wants us to be at peace with each other. It is a lesson that was portrayed often in old time television and in the ever true story of God’s Word.

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