Tag Archives: redemption

Day 18: Holding Hope (31 Days of Simple Truths)

Image: Autumn Mott/Unsplash

Image: Autumn Mott/Unsplash

Tonight, my words are few.

I’m aching and weary in my body from sleeping in a tent all weekend. I’m aching and weary in my soul from allowing myself a little bit of space and time to feel the magnitude of loss and uncertainty stirred up by our recent transition.

But I’m also reminded that my word for this year is redemption. All things new. And sometimes in order for all things to be made new, some things have to die. Isn’t that the lesson the seasons teach us? Isn’t autumn about the beauty of releasing the dead things, to lay down the burden in preparation for deep rest and new life?

So tonight, I offer you the words I am whispering to myself: Choose hope. Even in the dark, even in the land of question marks, choose hope. And keep your eyes open for redemption.

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Filed under 31 Days of Simple Truths, Change, Hope

Overcoming Evil With Good

*Dear readers, I’ve been doing a ton of writing for my job recently, which is making it quite challenging to keep up with this space. This is one of my recent pieces I did, and it’s a message really close to my heart so I wanted to share it here too.

“Do not be overcome by evil, but overcome evil with good.” – Romans 12:21

Before you watch the news or search the internet, or maybe just before you begin your day-to-day routines, it might be good to reflect on Paul’s words at the end of Romans 12. It is easy to be weighed down and discouraged by the struggles and very real horrors in the world. We can be paralyzed—so unsure of where to start or how to even address problems so big that we end up not doing much of anything.

But Paul gives us our starting point: Overcome evil with good. What this looks like for each of us will be slightly different, but it is a question we can bring before God daily—what good do You want me to do today?

Practical Mercy

In Victor Hugo’s classic masterpiece, Les Misérables, he tells the story of a man named Jean Valjean, who was imprisoned for 19 years because he stole a loaf of bread. Once he is released, it is only an illusory freedom. He cannot find anywhere to work or stay because he is an ex-convict. He finally finds a compassionate bishop who takes him in, but he repays the man’s kindness by stealing his silverware and slipping away in the night.

The police arrest Valjean and bring him back to the bishop to be charged, but in a stunning display of mercy, the bishop tells the guards that the silverware was a gift and demands that they release him. He challenges Valjean to take the silver and use it to become an honest man—a moment that powerfully transforms his life.

Come on over and read the rest!

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Filed under Faith, Justice, Love

All Things New (#OneWord365)

Image by Chris Sardegna/Unsplash.com

Image by Chris Sardegna/Unsplash.com

Back in November, as I stared at the disappointing rubble of 2014 and felt mounting dread for what the final months might throw our way, everything in me wanted to disappear into a dark hole somewhere. My heart was weary and spent, my fight all used up.

But even as the taunting shadows seemed to inch ever closer, I heard the rumblings of an eternal Voice whispering to the deepest place in my spirit: Hope. Choose hope.

I raged against these words. Several years in a row, I have mustered hope for a new year. Several years in a row, I have watched that hope dashed. I did not think I had the energy for another round of that cruel game.

Still. Every time I turned around, the challenge seemed to be coming at me from all sides: Hope. Choose hope.

I grudgingly began to consider that “hope” just might be my one word for 2015. I didn’t really want it, but I know how it goes—you don’t really choose the word as much as it chooses you. Maybe hope was choosing me. And I began to try to lay down the lenses of disappointment that were tainting the image of everything I could see; I tried to see differently.

It was subtle at first, and then undeniable—a shift started taking place. First, my heart started softening. Then circumstances started changing. Surprises. New friendship. A raise. Unexpected bonuses. Clarity. Rest. I hadn’t even fully embraced hope, but it seemed as if maybe it wasn’t going to be quite as hard as I thought.

Until I heard God speak more clearly than I have heard anything in awhile: I want you to do more than hope, Adela. I want you to believe Me for redemption.

Redemption. This is a loaded word: rescue, deliverance, atoning for faults, buying back or receiving back something that was sold or lost. This is restoration. This is things that were meant for evil being turned around for good. This is all things new.

(And I thought choosing hope was going to be hard.)

As this settled in my spirit, I was equal parts thrilled and terrified. And hopeful. So, so hopeful.

Because in my bones, I do believe God can do this. (If I don’t, I’d best pick a different faith to profess.) I don’t know how He will do it, and like many other things, I imagine it won’t end up looking like I thought it would. But still, I believe He can do it.

Redeem and restore.

I am writing this post from my daughter’s hospital room as she recovers from surgery. The irony of this moment is not lost on me—believing for redemption even in the place where I’ve faced one of my biggest struggles with God. But I see His promises hovering over her, and I feel His whispers echoing around us. Here in this place, the word that has swirled around in my heart for the last few weeks finally settles and takes root.

Redemption. I choose to declare redemption over this year. I choose to hope for all things new.

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Filed under Change, Faith, Hope

The Tension of Advent

Image Source: CreationSwap

Image Source: CreationSwap

There is a soft, steady rain falling. It announced its arrival this afternoon with one dramatic rumble of thunder, I think just making sure it had my attention. And then it proceeded to carry on its melancholy serenade.

I look through the rivulets running down the window, the blurred sparkle of our Christmas lights giving the raindrops their own moment of brilliance up against the ever darkening shadows as daylight slowly takes its leave.

This is Advent for me. The gloom side by side with the glow. The heaviness mingled with the stillness. The momentary tension between breathing in and breathing out, letting go. The waiting and listening.

Sometimes the melancholy is stronger. The world breaks at the seams. Hateful words and hateful acts and how can we as humanity be so wretched to each other sometimes?

And sometimes hope is stronger. The world surprises with its wonders. Encouraging words and selfless acts and how can this wretched humanity be so beautiful sometimes?

I used to feel that I had to give in to one or the other, to choose. If I chose hope, was I ignoring the broken hearts? If I chose melancholy, was I discounting the power of redemption?

But I know better now. This is the tension we live with, so often experiencing beauty and pain in the same moments. This is the tension of waiting–the beautiful hope of a promise to be fulfilled and the despair of waiting for a promise that seems it will never be fulfilled.

I think this is why creation groans, bowing under the weight of all the glory and all the misery and all the unknown, waiting for light to dispel the darkness once and for all.

Meanwhile, I choose to see. I see the dreariness, but I also see the wonder. They sit together in the window. They sit together in me. So I light the candles and remind myself of His promise to come and make things right–in the world and in me.

The rain falls. The light dances. And I wait.

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Filed under Beauty, Hope

Strengthen What Remains

Image Source: Jennifer Upton

Image Source: Jennifer Upton

For the last week, I have found myself glancing at the calendar impatiently, as if somehow I can coax the last few days of this month to move a little faster.  February has not been kind to me.  I am ready to shout some version of “Good riddance!” and “Don’t let the door hit you on the way out!”

It’s frustrating.  I had a lot of hopes for this month, plans, intentions.  But it seems like all my hopes were met with disappointment or hurt or failure or a dismal combination of all of the above.  Throw in a very unexpected, expensive vehicle repair and a very sick child, and I’m telling you, this is not the recipe for a good time.  So here I am – glaring at the remaining days and trying to stay low key, avoid anymore upsets.

Until it dawned on me.  This is not how God works.  Not one bit.  He never stares us down and sighs with exasperation, “Well, you screwed that up, so let’s just bide your time and get past this.”  He never looks at a person or circumstance only to toss them into the “lost cause” pile.  His mercies are new every morning.  No – wait.  Don’t glaze over that as a cliche or overused Bible verse.  Drink it in – Mercy. Fresh. Today. Now.

God never stops believing in redemption.  It is the story He has been writing since the beginning of time, and He will not stop until all things are reconciled to Him.  And all He is asking is for us to believe in this too: nothing is beyond the reach of His redemption. Nothing.

Why?

Because everything else fades away – things spoken to us and over us, things we think we know, seasons we are in, the limited picture we can see now.  It will all cease and be stilled and pass away.  And then these three remain: faith, hope and love.  But the greatest of these?

Love.

Which brings me full circle to my hopes for February.  I wanted to spend the month pondering and probing the depths of this love – His love and the glimpses of love He offers us through others on this earth.  So maybe it hasn’t gone according to plan, but there are three more days in this month, today included.  And today is as good as any to stare full on into the wonders of His love.

In all my interactions with people, most especially with my children, I find myself considering more and more – what is the most important truth I can leave on this heart today?

And it is this – His love does not fail.  It is relentless.  It is powerful enough to redeem anything and everything.  Where we feel there is nothing left – no hope, no goodness – His love is the breath that strengthens what remains and infuses us with new life.

You do not have to give up today.  His love most certainly will not let you go.

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Filed under Faith, Hope, Love, Presence

Shadows & Light: 2013

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Image by Jennifer Upton

This has been a year of contradictions, a tug of war for what will be cast on my heart – shadows or light.  I met 2013 with hope, lots and lots of hope.  Processes of change had been set in motion, and it was good.  The shift seemed a long time in coming, but still, at least we were on a steady trajectory for it to come.

July found me tired, but continuing to swell with hope.  And the words began to come from others – promise, hope, leadership, dreams fulfilled, moves that would unlock destiny, more and more promises.  I embraced it all.  It has been a long, dreadful desert season, valley, period of drought – choose your spiritual metaphor.  I will admit my hope has wavered, but it has never been lost.

Until the pieces began to crumble fast and furious.  Forgive me if this is too raw, but there is no other way to say it – most of my hopes for this year have been met with bitter disappointment.  And when I was asked to reflect on this year and look for the breath of redemption on the hard places, I put off the task as long as possible.  It is difficult for me to confess so many of the hard places seem to have no hope of redemption right now, that they seem to actually have become more hopeless than they already were.

Many of the hard places, but not all.

In the midst of the multitude of shadows on the landscape of 2013, there are two beacons of light.

The first is my marriage.  My husband and I celebrated six years of covenant love (to borrow a phrase from a friend), and it is nothing short of miraculous.  In an effort to protect each other from the ache of our individual emotions as we faced one loss and disappointment after another, we unwittingly built a wall between our hearts.  And suddenly one day, we realized it was there, and we did not know how to scale it.  It could have undone us.  As a matter of fact, I have no doubt that was exactly what the enemy intended, but fortunately the whispers of the Holy Spirit were stronger than the web designed to capture us.  What has resulted is a stronger, more unmovable love than we could have imagined and the healthiest communication we’ve ever had.  The wall has been demolished, we are wiser than we were and in spite of the continual frustrations life throws at us, we are enjoying a renewed passion and vibrancy in our marriage.  Redemption breathes.

The second is my writing.  When all the disappointments had become too much and I had to unlock the tension before it devoured me, I returned to the written word, something I had laid down several years back.  I set up this blog, I was gifted with the opportunity to become part of Story Sessions (something that has changed my life and rescued my sanity) and I began working on the book that has been floating around my head.  It was hard at first – the discipline, the re-acquainting with my words and re-discovering my voice.  But it is coming, more and more with each day and releasing many other creative places I thought were lost.  And if the writing wasn’t enough, I became part of the most incredible, life-giving community I have ever known.  And again, redemption breathes.

Truthfully, I do not know what to expect from 2014, and I am quivering with the fear of hope – she was not kind to me this past year.  But I will start at the points of light I was given, and take careful steps from there.  And perhaps, redemption will breathe again, and light will send the shadows scattering.

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Filed under Hope, Marriage, Uncategorized, Writing