Part 2. (a long post)
What kinds of selections do you make in hard times? In other words, what’s your “go to” or modus operandi when the going gets tough? Angry outbursts? Blame shifting? Anything that numbs? Hiding? Or maybe your “go to” is a person. Your spouse, a friend, a sister, someone who might tell you what you want to hear instead of what you need to hear.
Mine has always been my husband. He’s a fixer and I am frequently in need of a fix. Because of this dynamic, ours has been at times a toxic relationship. Like an addict craving a drug, I have demanded that he bring whatever crisis to an end. I have demanded circumstances to change so that I felt better. What a cruel demand. I had not crafted a golden calf, but fashioning God in the image of my husband makes me an idolator nonetheless. What an angry, disappointed and bitter worshipper I would become when he didn’t fix it, whatever the “it” was. Whether it was controlling fears, misbehaving children, empty checkbook, outrageous family squabbles, or anything else that swamped my mind and emotions; I demanded that it be fixed or else.
Addicts cannot wait. We are desperate for our fix. My cravings for emotional fixes often came with a very high price tag, unrestrained lashing out at my loved ones until the junkie in me was satisfied. As my older children became teenagers, I saw the rotten fruit of my anger becoming ripe. The stench overwhelmed me. A tidal wave of despair and hopelessness threatened to consume me. They each had varying degrees of scarring, woundedness and pain. They each had varying degrees of detrimental responses to their pain. “Oh God, what have I done?” “God, PLEASE fix my family! PLEASE fix me!”
God, however, does not always fix things. He does promise something else. Something potentially greater than fixing. He promises to redeem.
Years ago, I was cleaning out an old barn stall that the previous owners had used as a trash pile. Rusty cans, old rags, bits of this and that were buried in layers of forgotten soil. It seemed like I was on an archeological dig at the dump! Among all this junk, I unearthed an old glass bottle. A natural terrarium had formed inside it. There was mossy growth, gunk and a wriggly earth worm; gross!
I discovered one more bottle and then another. I had obviously hit the mother lode of glass bottles. As I examined each one, something suddenly struck me. Most of them were old Coke bottles and had “Redeem for 10 cents” printed around their necks. I paused from my grimy excavation and reflected on the word, “redeem” for a bit.
God began to teach me about me in that moment. I had been the old dirt filled bottle. There had been a time that I had forgotten my original design and purpose. I had been made for so much more, but I had become filled with gunk and grime. Enter God. He entered my dump heap of a life and redeemed me. He did not erase or fix my past failures, but He began to redeem them. What is redemption? What does it look like?
Merriam-Webster’s Dictionary defines redemption as,
“the act of making something better or more acceptable.”
Making my past something better or more acceptable carries so much more meaning than simply fixing it. Redemption embodies the idea that even my mistakes have purpose and can be used. They are not wasted sorrows. Redemption is not a redo. It’s taking something ugly and broken, something splintered and fragmented and fashioning wholeness and beauty from it. There is hope and power in redemption.
Redemption also offers me the opportunity to grow with God. If I am in Christ, then all my sins have become white as snow. There is no scowl of disappointment in His eyes. No look of disgust at my repeated offense. No sigh of exasperation or brow beating. God is more committed to my growth and wholeness than I am and so His hand is continually reaching for mine. He is encouraging me to be complete in Him and will not settle for less even tho I might be willing to. He calls me to more. He calls me to live abundantly. He calls me to live.
When I grasp these truths, I can release my husband and others from “a fix” because God promises to work ALL things together for good. The hope of redemption also enables me to surrender my mess and grime and broken places to him with the assurance that He can turn them in to something better and MORE acceptable. He is able to rescue, reclaim and recover all my mistakes. They can be used.
This is what I want my selection to be. Lord, I don’t want to be fixed. I choose you. I choose
Ephesians 1:7 (NASB)
In Him we have redemption through His blood, the forgiveness of our trespasses, according to the riches of His grace.
Romans 8:28 (NASB)
And we know that God causes all things to work together for good to those who love God, to those who are called according to His purpose.