Occasionally we are blessed to capture glimpses of redemption in the midst of our busy lives. Redemption is a process of the old and worn being reclaimed for a higher purpose, but every now and then there are moments when time seems to stop for just a second and the process of redemption reveals its fruit. It is tempting to think that these revelations are ‘arrival’, that the process is somehow complete. Instead, these glimpses are just benchmarks along the way toward ultimate redemption.
We were blessed to witness such a glimpse at redemption yesterday during our morning worship service. One of our members celebrated 4 years clean from narcotics this past week. He is our ministry leader for our Narcotics Anonymous ministry and is an incredible example of what it means to live by the Spirit. He’s come a long way in the last few years, but he’ll be the first to tell you that all of his success is from God and that he has a long way to go.
This man has a daughter that was raised for a great portion of her life plagued by the narcotics addiction in her family. This young lady is beautiful, kind, and talented. A few weeks ago I watched this young lady open her heart to God and other teens. She lamented the separation between her father and herself. She longed for a closer relationship with him and God. She committed to bridging the gap between her and her dad. On Wednesday of this past week, her father baptized her into Christ.
This morning was magical. Actually, the more appropriate term would be ‘mystical’. The Spirit was present and moving. I asked this young lady to join me on stage and I introduced her as a new sister in Christ. As expected, the congregation erupted in applause. What they didn’t expect is what happened next. With her friend standing next to her, she read a prepared tribute of love and appreciation to her father as she introduced him and announced that he was four years clean from narcotics. The congregation went absolutely crazy! People were standing and clapping, whistling and yelling. The entire Body of Christ at Bristol Road joined in chorus to celebrate the redemption that is occurring in this man’s life. Even more so, they were celebrating the redeeming of the relationship between father and daughter.
As if the day couldn’t get any better, they announced that the friend joining the young lady on stage was going to be baptized that day. Round 3 of applause and rejoicing kicked in. It was one of those times that I knew I couldn’t add anything to the lesson by preaching a sermon. The topic was ‘Living by the Spirit’ after all. In hindsight, I probably should have said, “That’s what it is to live by the Spirit” and sat down. The message would have been powerful all by itself.
This is just another of many examples of how our God is a redeemer. No matter how bad things get, no matter how messed up and dirty our lives are, if we give that mess to God he will turn it into something better, something beautiful, and something that will glorify Him. If we are willing, our scars of shame and embarrassment become testimonies to the power and greatness of our Lord and God. This is the true power of redemption.