The hour has come for you to wake up from your slumber, because our salvation is nearer now than when we first believed. The night is nearly over; the day is almost here.
Today this Scripture was highlighted to me. Your redemption draws nigh!
Redemption is His glory at the end of a long, difficult road. God is weaving His redemption into each of our lives every passing day. He is making our lives beautiful, turning what the enemy meant for evil into good.
This is the story of how He redeemed me.
Redemption from Pain
College and the years after brimmed with deep pain and darkness for me. Some people call it the “Dark Night of the Soul”. This was mine.
During my teenage years I had some tough experiences, things people should never have to deal with. What followed was a decade of indescribable pain. Life was crushing. I don’t know how else to describe it.
The first year was a blur; I simply don’t remember much. Each subsequent year was filled with searching, grasping for something to heal my wounds. Utter desperation. Despair. Teeny glimmers of hope after all seemed lost. And extreme confusion.
I turned over one stone only to uncover more. There were LAYERS to this thing, this mountain of pain I held inside. What was the answer? What did I need most?
I realized I faced a choice: Deal with my experiences with my Healer’s help, the One I’d walked away from years prior, or turn away again to other ‘lovers’.
By the grace of God, this time around I chose Him.
As the pain intensified – which often happens on the road to freedom — I shrank back in fear, a shell of myself. I sought Him, but leaned heavily on other crutches to make it through. I didn’t want to unleash a torrent of struggles onto others, and I struggled to trust them, so I fumblingly turned to God again and again. I slipped, yes!, but I returned to His feet. I sought His heart for me. I sought His salve and His touch… but I didn’t fully trust Him either. Intimacy terrified me, so I played peek-a-boo with my Saviour for much too long, thinking He wouldn’t approve when He saw me up close.
But that’s not what we learn from His precious promises to us. God shows His heart for His beloved, despite their repeated betrayal, in Hosea:
Come, let us return to the LORD.
He has torn us to pieces
but He will heal us;
He has injured us
but He will bind up our wounds.
After two days He will revive us;
on the third day He will restore us,
that we may live in His presence.
Let us acknowledge the LORD;
let us press on to acknowledge Him.
As surely as the sun rises,
He will appear;
He will come to us like the winter rains,
like the spring rains that water the earth.
Ever so slowly, light shone into my prison. God entered and chased away my shame, one lie at a time. He began stripping me of old habits and destructive cycles, revealing to me a new abundant way of life. Then He did a remarkable thing. Like His word says, He gave me a new name!, one spoken to me in the depth of the pit: JOY. I stared back at the man who spoke this over my life, this word of faith, through the eyes of deep sadness and pain. Joy — me? He said I’ll bring joy wherever I go? Wow! How unthinkable in that season, but how like our Creator to make us into the unthinkable–something glorious–when we could’ve never accomplished it on our own. How beautiful! :)
One painstaking step of faith at a time, I learned to trust my Creator as He showed Himself most trustworthy! This word became true in my life:
The LORD sets prisoners free,
the LORD gives sight to the blind,
the LORD lifts up those who are bowed down,
the LORD loves the righteous.
The LORD watches over the alien
and sustains the fatherless and the widow,
but He frustrates the ways of the wicked.
This story of redemption is yours, and it is mine. And it is life-changing when we share it with others.
Let the Redeemed of the Lord Say So!
Revelation 12 teaches us invaluable information about our redemption, our salvation:
Then I heard a loud voice in heaven say:
‘Now have come the salvation and the power and the kingdom of our God,
and the authority of His Christ.
For the accuser of our brothers,
who accuses them before our God day and night,
has been hurled down.
They overcame him
by the blood of the Lamb
and by the word of their testimony;
they did not love their lives so much
as to shrink from death.’
To overcome our mutual enemy, each of us must share our story in our circles– proclaim our freedom, God’s redemption of our pain! Scripture says “Let the redeemed of the Lord say so!” Speak it. Share our travels. Surely somewhere along the way, we will meet others struggling through areas God has given us victory in. With these people we are compelled to share that freedom is possible, they are not alone, and such beauty awaits them on the other side.
And that’s why I share mine.
Some sat in darkness, in utter darkness,
prisoners suffering in iron chains,
because they rebelled against God’s commands
and despised the plans of the Most High.
So He subjected them to bitter labor;
they stumbled, and there was no one to help.
Then they cried to the LORD in their trouble,
and He saved them from their distress.
He brought them out of darkness, the utter darkness,
and broke away their chains.
Let them give thanks to the LORD for His unfailing love
and His wonderful deeds for mankind,
for He breaks down gates of bronze
and cuts through bars of iron…
He sent out His word and healed them;
He rescued them from the grave.
Let them give thanks to the LORD for His unfailing love
and His wonderful deeds for mankind.
Let them sacrifice thank offerings
and tell of His works with songs of joy.
Do you see it? Despite our self-made prisons and self-imposed chains, God breaks down bronze gates and iron bars. This is redemption. It is God giving ear to our cries in our distress. It is our powerful Saviour rescuing us from every kind of death.
Beauty from Ashes
God didn’t just save me from darkness. He saved me to someplace, a place He carved out for me before the world began. (Thanks to Beth Moore for this revelation!)
Ten years after the nightmare began, after believing no man would brave peering into my brokenness or would find beauty there, God gave me my heart’s desire: He made me a radiant bride! I didn’t think this time would actually come. If my tough experiences had taught me anything, it was that I’d always be in ‘waiting mode’. Yet, that assumption proved false. Even now I find it hard to wrap my mind around how far He’s brought me. Me. Redeemed.
Yet here I am.
My mom called my attention to this recently at my “early birthday” celebration, words I can’t forget. She said that despite the long journey I’ve taken — the pain and sadness, my desire to get married earlier than I did, and the painful waiting period that ensued — when my time arrived, God blessed me with two weddings, two honeymoons and all kinds of two-ness (two becoming one)! [Yes, we had two wedding celebrations: our wedding day with parents and pastor, and a huge one with all our loved ones.] As she said this, instantly this verse flashed into my mind:
Instead of your shame
you will receive a double portion,
and instead of disgrace
you will rejoice in your inheritance.
And so you will inherit a double portion in your land,
and everlasting joy will be yours.
[and in the Amplified]:
Instead of your [former] shame you shall have a twofold recompense; instead of dishonor and reproach [your people] shall rejoice in their portion. Therefore in their land they shall possess double [what they had forfeited]; everlasting joy shall be theirs.
Before marriage, I felt shame. Many of my God-given dreams hinged on meeting the right man, starting a family and creating a life together. But my dreams tarried.
Yet now I see how the Lord has turned each of these challenging times around for my good. Each painful season changed something in me that needed to be changed, and each tough path I have traveled thus far has shown me new pathways to healing and freedom that I now share with others. God has made “all things work together” on my and my husband’s behalf, and in the process He has made (and continues to make!) our story soo beautiful!
A year ago I would have never envisioned the life I’m now living every day. I recall one moment last spring when God whispered to me, in my utter despair, “It’s always darkest before dawn.” He knew that after enough time passed and life didn’t happen as I’d imagined, hope died in me.
But God is faithful! Eight months later I was blessed with two totally unique weddings — one flanked by New Mexico’s gorgeous snow and mountains and the other surrounded by Florida’s sunshine, sand and palm trees — and two honeymoons, when I’d only dreamed of one! Both days were exceptionally beautiful.
Wow! Did I deserve such grace after the places I’d been? Or after failing to believe that He cared for me and would bless me one day? No I didn’t. Yet, that’s what grace means. It isn’t earned or merited. It is freely given.
His word promises us,
I will repay you for the years the locusts have eaten –
the great locust and the young locust,
the other locusts and the locust swarm –
My great army that I sent among you.
You will have plenty to eat, until you are full,
and you will praise the name of the LORD your God,
who has worked wonders for you;
never again will My people be shamed.
Repaid me He has. And this is just the beginning of my story.
His promises are so beautiful because they are so true! He will give us beauty for ashes, a garment of praise instead of a spirit of despair. That’s just what He’s done (and continuing to do) in my life. And that’s just what He’s doing in yours.
Our Final Redemption
God’s final promise of redemption will greet us in the next life. It is such a glorious promise! Savor each word because this is His promise to YOU and to me, to all His children, in the place He’s preparing for us:
“Though you were once despised and hated,
with no one traveling through you,
I will make you beautiful forever,
a joy to all generations.
Powerful kings and mighty nations
will satisfy your every need,
as though you were a child
nursing at the breast of a queen.
You will know at last that I, the Lord,
am your Savior and your Redeemer,
the Mighty One of Israel.
I will exchange your bronze for gold,
your iron for silver,
your wood for bronze,
and your stones for iron.
I will make peace your leader
and righteousness your ruler.
Violence will disappear from your land;
the desolation and destruction of war will end.
Salvation will surround you like city walls,
and praise will be on the lips of all who enter there.
“No longer will you need the sun to shine by day,
nor the moon to give its light by night,
for the Lord your God will be your everlasting light,
and your God will be your glory.
Your sun will never set;
your moon will not go down.
For the Lord will be your everlasting light.
Your days of mourning will come to an end.
All your people will be righteous.
They will possess their land forever,
for I will plant them there with My own hands
in order to bring Myself glory.
The smallest family will become a thousand people,
and the tiniest group will become a mighty nation.
At the right time, I, the Lord, will make it happen.”
Until heaven, God will be working redemption in our lives here on earth. Each broken part of us He redeems, each wound He heals in this life points us to our final destination and the Ultimate Redemption of mankind. God promises a heavenly home where the sun never goes down! Tears are not cried! Unfathomable now, but it will be our reality later–just as I could never have hoped or dreamed or expected the life I’m now experiencing daily. I couldn’t have even wished for the love I now know in marriage. And this is just a glimpse of what’s to come.
I’ll leave you with God’s best promise of all. See for yourself–Ephesians 3:14-21. Let’s always remind ourselves and each other that we can trust God because He is faithful!