Tuesday, May 22, 2007

Redemption

See, I knew I just wouldn't be good at this blogging stuff! It's too hard to come up with things to write, but I'm back again because this is what I've been thinking about for awhile.

Redemption is a powerful thing. I love redemption stories. I like them told in person most of all, but I also like redemption songs and movies and books. I've heard two wonderful stories recently--one from Japan through the church I worked with last year, and one from a former classmate of mine who I just reconnected with this past weekend at our 15 year reunion.

God really does have the power to transform lives. Sometimes we act like He doesn't, even though we know what God has done in our own lives (for those of us who have experienced it!).

Redemption is God taking our messy, broken, messed-up, painful, sinful lives--all our dirt and baggage--and making something holy, beautiful, worthwhile, meaningful, and righteous out of it. God actually uses the dirt in our lives for good--our own good, and for the good of others. God really does exchange beauty for ashes. But it isn't automatic; God doesn't force Himself on us, although He does relentlessly pursue us. But at some point, we have to adjust, give up, surrender, get out of God's way. If we don't give God our dirt, He won't use it.

God pursues us to the point where the Holy Spirit opens our eyes to the fact that we need redemption. We realize that our lives are messed up. At this point, though we either admit it and find that redemption or we resist.

As a Calvinist, this is where I struggle--TULIP--that I--Irresistible grace. Is it really irrestible? I know people who resist. I've seen it. I've done it myself in the short term. And then there are those "scary" Hebrews passages that my Methodist colleagues don't find as scary. The good Calvinist though, wants to believe that grace is ultimately irrestible and always wins out. This encourages me to persevere in prayer.
And I know when I see someone who has obviously been convicted wrestling with God, I know that grace will win. But for those who resist the conviction and become hardened...well, there's where Hebrews comes in.

When we admit to what we are, then Christ is there. He takes over and actually uses the crap in our lives for His own glory. After all, God is the one who has allowed all of our experiences and circumstances. God is the Author of our lives. Then we can be free from regret, free from burden, and free from pain without purpose--not necessarily free from pain, but free from pain without purpose.

I'm watching someone wrestle right now. The person doesn't like his life, doesn't want to be the same, and understands he is messed up. The person is just beginning to be awakened to the fact that life can be different. I have no doubt that in this case grace will win out. God is already at work and continues to reveal more and more of Himself to this person. I believe that this person will come to understand that the past can be redeemed not regretted. I'm trying to be patient because I'm excited; I'm ready for the person to give up because I know what will be found. I hope it doesn't take years, but it might. But it's God's timing and not mine.

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