Redemption follows along closely with forgiveness.
I don’t know how it works exactly, but I know it’s true.
It is the old magic that Aslan was talking about in The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe in CS Lewis’ Chronicles of Narnia.
Redemption is one of the most beautiful things in the world.
We need it.
All of us.
Redemption takes what is broken and makes it whole again. It “redeems” something good out of the shittiness. Can I say that? I wrote “horribleness” and it didn’t quite sound right so I wrote shittiness. Sorry. That’s crass but you know when you get to that point where a situation, a person, a conflict, seems irreparable, no hope, no change, all is lost.. that is when redemption can be seen at it’s most brilliant. Redemption brings a sense of wholeness to a shattered piece of glass. There is a book I love called Death by Love by Mark Driscoll and Gerry Breshears.
There is another crazy story about a man who was asked to pursue and marry a woman who would be unfaithful to him. She would prostitute herself amongst other men and she would have children by them. This man was commanded to pursue his wife and love her and continue to pursue her amongst the pain and rejection and betrayal of her sexual unfaithfulness.
How insane is that?
It is the book of Hosea from the Bible. Near the end of Old Testament. The story is of Hosea’s life and God’s request to him to pursue his unfaithful wife as a picture of how God pursued unfaithful Israel and in fact.. unfaithful humanity. God’s acceptance of us is not based on our performance but on Christ’s perfect life and our trusting him. There is a parody of the book of Hosea out there called Redeeming Love. Sobbed through that one too. Really good. Order it here.
I spend a lot of time in nightclubs and bars. This is because I am a crazy mad addicted salsa dancer. I love everything about the dancing, the music, and the culture of it. Salsa is a friendly place where everybody knows your name. But there is a dark side: you see a lot of brokenness in nightclubs and bars.. or traveling through the city centre of Newcastle on the way to them on a Friday night. You especially see a lot of pain if you are always sober enough to catch not just the obvious pain around you, but the small looks, the fractures, all the conversations you always remember in the morning, the details. As much as I love my dancing, sometimes everything around me gets to me and I cannot handle it and I cry. I have seen so much that seems beyond despair. Broken relationships, sexual addictions, lack of forgiveness, gossip, slander, mothers and daughters going out clubbing together and ending up barefoot, drunk, sitting in their own vomit in an alley and crying, infidelity. I remember being at a salsa event in another city once and seeing a man I knew was married kiss a woman who was not his wife. I think he had been married a year. I burst into tears. I barely knew him but it just saddened me so much. How do you handle all of that?
How do I live with a hope that ALL things have the possibility of redemption when I see a world of brokenness around me?
1. I look to Jesus. Redemption is only possible because of him. He IS the one who pays for sin, changes hearts, mends marriages, breaks the bondage of sin and more.
2. I look to the future.. to heaven when there will be no more suffering and pain and brokenness.
3. I do not check out of the world now. I engage. I do not become a person who sticks their head in the sand and pretends the world is alright. I daily engage in the act of really SEEING the world. Not averting my eyes to hide from pain and others suffering. I am honest about my own suffering and needs for redemption.
4. I ask the Lord for help, to serve people, to mend my own broken heart, to know what to say in the midst of the despair others sometimes bring to me.
5. I cry. Honestly. I do a lot and you might think me a wimp. Or if you’re British, wet. But. Jesus cried when he looked over Jerusalem and grieved. The empathy is part of how he made me.
6. I remember my past sin, am honest with my current sin, and am wary of my future ability to sin and fall. I confess sin a lot – to Jesus and to friends who can pray for me. I do not think I am above any temptation. I remember that Jesus has redeemed me and spared me from much and is changing me. I focus on the good news of Jesus’ forgiveness offered to me: not thinking I have graduated from that. Ever.
7. I look to the storyline of the Bible… the entire thing is a massive narrative through various genres at how God is in the business of taking a broken and crumbled and sinful world and redeeming it.. making it new again.. turning upside down the upside downness and making the world right again.. he has started.. and he will finish it.
I’ll be honest that sometimes I look at people and situations and am confident that healing and wholeness and restoration can take place. Other times I feel quite hopeless. God’s ability to redeem is not based on my feelings but in himself.. so I pray to him during the times I feel most hopeless. Asking him to make whole a person, or circumstance, or myself..