There is always redemption. Whether we recognize it or not, it is always happening.
But it sometimes – often – usually – looks very different from what we expect.
Over the past two years, there have been three times when I have felt something so strongly and clearly during Sunday morning worship that it seemed almost real. Each time has caught me off guard. In the middle of pure worship with thoughts focused completely on God, I sensed something happening that was not actually happening. I sensed – imagined – felt my ex walking into the room and cautiously slipping into the space beside me.
No words are said. I simply reach for his hand. He accepts. It is one step. A huge one. And there is a sense of peace.
I believe God reminds me of his pursuit of my ex. Despite his rejection of me, I know his rejection of God runs more deeply. I also know I can trust God. God pursues and redeems.
I don’t believe he is going to redeem the relationship. Not that I don’t believe he can; I just don’t think that’s the focus.
As I had this experience yet again recently, I immediately thanked God for his redemption and reminded myself to trust God to define what that redemption looks like in my own life as well as others’ lives who have been near ground zero of the divorce.
Redemption doesn’t always look how we expect it to look. The results are not always an exact rebuilding of what was destroyed. It is the rebuilding of people – our hearts and souls – not of situations and things.
We are not replicas. We are living, growing, changing beings.
There is a lot of rebuilding and restoration happening in my community right now. Many homes were destroyed or damaged by a tornado. What is being rebuilt might be better in some ways, but there will be some adjustments and sacrifices, too. In our society, we can become accustomed to making the decisions we want and having (what seems to be) control as we build or restore. We try to get what we want even if it means saying no to some other options for a time. But at some point, we’re going to have to relinquish a few things.
We can expect the something similar as we project our own preferences onto God’s redemption.
When God redeems, he redeems. He is the subject of the sentence, the doer of the action. We are the recipients. We receive. We allow. We trust.
We don’t know exactly how he will redeem us and others, but we know he is always redeeming. It is who he is. It might not be in the timing or approach we prefer, but that doesn’t disqualify it as redemption.
I am thankful he knows the details better than I do, because only he can completely redeem.