Monday, December 13, 2010

Our Redemption Stories

There are times when we look up and find ourselves in the middle of a mine field. We have no idea how we got there, but circumstance and good intentions take us right back to a place we fought so hard to leave behind.

Yesterday, I was asked to help a friend. It seemed like an innocent enough request, and one I wanted to fulfill. After all, I know what it is like to be young mother taking care of small children on limited funds and not being able to pay the mountain of bills that keeps growing to epic peaks of destruction. So I got in my car and went, with no reservations, no compunction, and no hesitancy.

But soon after I got there I was in a scene all too familiar. One that I fled from over a decade ago, and one that I would like to forget ever played out in my life. It was a painful place, one where I almost lost myself and my children to a special type of hell that is reserved for women who think that they can save the world, or at least one “special” man.

As I sat and talked to the young woman who needed the assistance, I kept having flashbacks that were trying to break to the surface of my mind. Memories that I would quickly put down so that I could focus on the specifics of this situation, but as she talked I knew I really didn’t even need to hear what she said. The script was familiar enough, after all, I felt like I wrote it so many years ago, and frankly, my delivery was better.

I woke up this morning still troubled by what I had witnessed, and in the privacy and safety of my own home I let those suppressed memories play out in my head. The question that kept ringing across them all was why? Why did I need to be the one who went? Why did I need to be reminded in such a blunt way of all the pain I left behind? Worked so hard to be free of?

I know the answer, and it is simple enough. Those who went with me spoke it plainly, “I don’t have your perspective,” “I’ve never been in this situation,” “I can’t imagine what this is like,” “I don’t know what to do to help.” At the time, all I could think was “Thank God you don’t.”

If I believe anything it is this. One, God is sovereign. He is big enough, strong enough, and sometimes even ruthless enough to carry out his purposes. Two, there is redemption for all the things we carry to the throne. Nothing is wasted, nothing is without purpose, not even our pain.

As I walked through yesterday, I had eyes to see what others would have missed. I had the experience to hear between the words, and the hard won wisdom to know what can and can’t be done to help. I am not saying this out of any sort of arrogance. It simply is the result of what I have lived through, and that is the key – I LIVED through it.

I came out on the other side basically whole, with a few scars that still give me trouble when a front moves through. But I am still alive, and I am stronger for what I have endured. It deepened my appreciation for the beautiful things I have in my life now, and it gave me an intimate knowledge of God that so many people in church just do not understand.

The thing is, we all have at least one area of our lives like this. One wilderness that we have walked through that others don’t even have a map to explain. What we have known and what we have done is a mystery to them, and they need us to help them navigate through these unknown lands.

It is one of the redemptive elements of our lives – the power of our story. It gives purpose and meaning to the events we have witnessed that is beyond ourselves. It brings hope to those who are still wandering in the land we managed to escape. Too often we try to avoid confronting our past hurts and wounding, we think that if we ignore it long enough we can forget that it existed, forget that we ever allowed ourselves to be that person.

Sometimes, I think that the world is crying out for those of us brave enough to show them our scars to give them this hope. They need to see that the God we serve is big enough to bring life, even where they are. They need to know that they are not forgotten, and He loves them even in the midst of their pain. And that only happens when we are strong enough to let another see into our past, show them how God saved us, and the power of his healing enacted in our lives.

Our stories of healing and redemption validate God’s power in this life, in their lives, and for many this is the only hope they have to cling to. If God did it for them, maybe he can and will do it for me – how can they have that hope unless we live it out before them? Maybe it is time we put an end to being the victims of our past and declare the victory of a Lord who specializes in redeeming all of history to his glory. Maybe it is time we stopped living in shame over our mistakes and we lived a life celebrating the redemptive power of His story.

No comments: