There is a big man waiting at the gate. He is carrying a huge wooden club. It has a nail in it. His name is Redemption. Do you let him in?
Blood sacrifice and murdered prophets in the Old Testament; Jesus and a persecuted church in the New. Redemption is a glorious word,a magnificent thing, but it leaves a scar. There is no redemption without a big club with a nail in it. Why would God do such a thing? Because redemption involves a tearing and a rending; it involves having the umbilical cord that ties us to this broken world surgically severed. Why would it not hurt? If you expect pain-free redemption then you haven’t understood what you are being redeemed from.
Imagine this: A woman finds out that her husband is a gambling addict, and has spent the last twelve months frittering away the children’s inheritance. True, she has not been a perfect wife, but she knows that she has not been a bad wife. She did not drive her husband to this; he chose the path of the spoiled brat. She is a woman more sinned against than sinning. So what does she do? She must carry his sin, and its consequences. She must explore the burden of forgiveness and all the ugly feelings that make it real.
But she has her own dark side. She struggles with the urge to keep her husband’s failure a secret. She is afraid of the shame. For so long all she’s wanted is the perfect family, the kind of family that arouses jealousy in the hearts of struggling parents and unhappy spouses alike. And for a while she had it. Why not? She worked hard for it. She deserves it. But if her husband’s actions come out then she loses it all. So what does she do? In the midst of this hurt and pain and wrong she is forced to come face-to-face with something that she didn’t realise was there. Her own pride.
It’s not fair! She is the wounded party, the victim, the wronged one, so why won’t God leave her alone? But the Holy Spirit, who watched her build her house on the sand, now watches – through the same tear-stained eyes – to see what she will do next. Not only does she have to deal with the fallout from her husband’s actions, her own sin has been exposed. It’s not the main event, sure, but it’s out there now. Listen! Can you hear Redemption at the gate, dragging his club behind him? This is her chance to not only redeem her husband and their relationship, but it’s also her chance to redeem herself. It’s her chance to walk away from the unstable house that she has built and wander in the desert for a while, trusting in nothing but the uncertain and terrifying love of God. Now Redemption is knocking. Does she let him in?
No-one ever said that redemption was fair, but it is most definitely good.