So I've had this 'draft' post written in my blogger cloud (I sound like I know what I'm talking about there, but I really don't have any tech skills) for three months. Sometimes I've added my thoughts. Mostly, I've deleted tons of words. And almost hit the delete button tonight and erased it.
But then I wanted to share some thoughts on the confusing word of "redemption". Since it's lent and all. And since the Easter story is such an amazing, powerful and beautiful story of redemption. For you. And for me. And because tonight we had a family dinner, even picked Hannah up from the dorm, and then watched our first recording of the History Channel "The Bible".
Redemption is loving someone. Even someone who you cannot stand any of their behaviors or actions. The hardest ones to love are the ones that need the redeeming power of love. I always thought that going to church and doing good things would bring me redemption. But it was like a "end of life" kinda redemption. The past six years have really opened my eyes to exactly what I believe and more importantly feel daily as redemption. I've lived thru pain and suffering and enjoyed sheer joy and long periods of happiness. I've lived a life, I guess, these past six years. One filled with every aspect of humanity. And the love within those days has been redemptive.
Redemption was found on a summer day visiting my daughter inpatient recovery in eastern washington. I never lost my love for my daughter, not for a moment, but what I never could say before that summer day is that I loved an alcoholic or an addict. In fact, I really avoided those people all my life. "Those people". Mentally ill. Substance abusers. But on a hot summer day that turned into a cool evening, I was sitting in a room talking to a group of girls. Hearing their testimony. I loved a 14 year old girl detoxing from a heroin and meth addiction. I loved another girl, my own daughter, as she shared her testimony of social drinking turned to alcoholism quickly. And I loved still another girl, my daughters age, who would struggle the most with recovery and end her childhood in a half way house. While all were sick and struggling toward recovery, love was redemption for them and for me.
Redemption is adoption. Saving an orphan. My friend Ruth is one of the most self-less people I have ever met. Adoption is the gospel alive and in your home! She is adopting a child with Down syndrome from eastern europe. That is one sweet face of redemption!
Redemption is the staff in my son's life skills classroom. Para educators, OT, SLP, and a teacher in life skills and one in general education... all gifted beyond where most of our minds and hearts daily exist. People that love on my son and provide an educational setting that is safe, nurturing and meets him where he is academically. And in the process, they struggle with being exhausted mentally, physically and spiritually. Dostoevsky said, "Love in action is a harsh and dreadful thing compared with love in dreams. Love in dreams is greedy for immediate action, rapidly performed and in the sight of all..... but active love is labor and fortitude".
"On earth as it is in heaven", that part of the Lord's Prayer makes me smile with the hope and the promise that it implies. The desire to be "christ like" to be the "arms and legs of Jesus" doing God's will on earth. Witnessing to the power of redemption in whatever simple ways it shows itself. Testifying to the power of giving grace to others and allowing them to live a lifetime thru hope and faith. Love gives and gives and gives. "On earth as it is in heaven" means not merely the gratification of being loved—but the blessing of loving others. Redemption is to give the best of one's life for others.
Loving my husband and my family, tries my patience lol, and redeems me daily. During nightly devotions with son Liam, my mind races around silently and wishes for the morning because I remember all my short comings of the day, when I was rude, when I wasn't patient.... and I cannot wait until getting another 'blank slate' that comes with the morning. Another fresh start. God redeems our heart thru forgiveness and a new start each day.
Redemption is not being a bystander but an active participant of life. Hundreds of hours of volunteer time each year goes to a few of my favorite organizations, I can honestly say that I'm selfish about giving myself thru volunteering my skills and heart. The love just goes on and on and on. The people I have met these past six years have been so inspirational. I get far more out of volunteering than I feel like I every give to an organization. Love thru volunteering is redeeming. But it's not the "act of volunteering" that is redeeming, it's the relationships and community it builds. It's the love that is.
The world may not have changed dramatically with the action of love. But those people that you touched by your love will have THEIR world changed. Break the loaves of bread, pass the cups, put your love into action. Redemption will be found here on earth. Make heaven on earth, He wants YOU to. And remember what Dostoevsky said, it's going to be harsh and dreadful at times. It will take actions pushing past your comfy zone. But do it anyway.