Rediscovering Redemption

Chronicling the work of Redemption in the lives of Followers and Leaders. Articles, research and meditations from the writings of Dr. Joseph J. Bucci. Get blog updates by following Joe on Twitter @Re_Redemption

Joseph J. Bucci

Are Positive Endings Only For The Movies?

There is a cost to change. Those who work with managing change describe planned processes for easing the pain of change. The most difficult aspect of change management is working people though the loss and re-learning that is required though the change process (Webber, 1999). People need encouragement and cultivation to manage change. But often people cannot manage changing, no matter how beneficial the new state after the change may be.

Consider speculation tonight in the tragic death of Garrett Reid, son of Philadelphia Eagles’ coach Andy Reid. According to one source, both of Reid’s sons struggled with drug abuse and the effects of such abuse (Battista, 2012). The challenges of helping his sons change behavior to a more positive path allowed Reid the great sensitivity to understand and empathize with others who had made mistakes and spent time in prison – most notably Michael Vick, the talented yet flawed former quarteback on whom the Eagles took a chance in 2009 (Battista, 2012). In this case, the story has a fairly happy ending: Vick has not yet won a Super Bowl with the Eagles, which for some fans is the ultimate redemption in sports heaven. But he is definitely a changed man who recently married, who is repaying his fines and debts, and has managed to work though previous troubling behavior to work more postively using his talents to help and encourage others. In this case. like the movies, there seems to be a happy ending in Michael Vick’s case.

In the case of Garrett Reid, the cost of change was difficult, and it may have been too high to attain on his own. The younger Reid was in and out of rehabilitation programs, and ultimately in recent weeks worked closely with his father along with the team strength coaches making a positive contribution (Ford, 2012). Perhaps some change seemed to be occurring, and there was hope that the coach could help his son as he had helped so many other young men. In this case, although it is not for sure at this hour, one source has suggested that it may be that Garrett Reid lost his private battle with behavior change (Ford, 2012). Sometimes the cost of redemption is a heavy one, and the price is too large or too difficult to pay. We could not pay the price to remove our sin – only Jesus could. But then there is the work to be reformed into the image of this Lord that we follow. Unlike the movies, there are not always a happy ending when seeking to find restoration and overcome adversity in this life.

When a person comes to faith, and receives that moment of grace and transformational change (2 Cor. 5:17) the scripture says that in the spiritual realms this person becomes a new creation: the old is past, and all things become new. Sometimes some individuals walk away from toxic behavior and never return. We do know that some people need more help in this process, beyond discipleship classes and pep talks in church. It is not too hard to imagine that part of this restoration process may require counseling and re-learning behaviors. This often leads to a “three steps forward and two steps back” lifestyle of frustration, and sometimes doubt that change will really happen.

We all rejoice with the Michael Vick stories of redemption, restoration and apparent success. And we cry with sadness over the tragedy of Garrett Reid stories of tragic lost potential. It might me that there are as many Garrett Reid stories as their are Michael Vick stories. The question is, between the Vick and Reid paths, is there anything else that we can do to improve the odds?

We must accept the fact that the work of redemption beyond the spritual transformation in this time-and-space environment is more than simply giving altar calls. It is the work of supporting people who come to faith in changing behavior. We do a disservice to all of those who trust in us as leaders to accept a spritual renewal as the only kind of restoration needed. These kinds of change require us to commit our lives to support and encourage change, often watching as our students fall short again and again, and then sometimes choose to give up. The prodigal son’s father did not give up (Luke 15) in the face of mockery and denial, and neither can we. Sometimes the results will look like Michael Vick; and sometimes they will not. Even this Vick restoration story has yet to be fully played out. But do you believe that the work of redemption leads to happy endings…or are happy endings only for the movies?

Battista, J.(2012). Eagles Coach’s Son, 29, Dies at Training Camp. The New York Times, retrieved August 5, 2012 at
Ford, B. (2012). A day like no other for Eagles at Lehigh. The Philadelphia Inquirer, retrieved August 5, 2012 at
Webber, A.M. (1999). Learning for a Change. Interview with Peter Senge.Fast Company (FC24, p. 178)

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