I receive a daily Google Reader news feed, searching for “redemption” articles across hundreds of sources. It’s pretty cool to see occasions when people of faith write articles reflecting the path of redemption. On occasion, a news story will feature an average person like you or me, whose life was heading tragically in the wrong direction, but then a dramatic change occurred. Some authors may reference God, while most speak of the preeminent human spirit, noting with wonder this unique act of self-correction.
Having been aware of my frail and prideful humanity for some 50 years, I know that one’s ability to self-correct from destructive behavior is truly unique, perhaps in reality non-existent in human beings. If we could make these adjustments ourselves, then there would be no willingness to pursue help from above, no realization of greater things, or higher powers; nor any need to ask for help from anyone, much less cry out in humility pleading for mercy. I believe the occasional self-correction is really a spiritual moment, when God in His sovereignty breaks through and offers glimpses of redemption to His precious creation. Here we have an opportunity to ponder this and more deeply pursue the depth of what has actually happened; or we can pat ourselves on the back, like Little Jack Horner, who “put in his thumb, and pulled out a plum” as the nursury rhyme goes. What a good boy am I! No, not really.
I received two stories this week on the attempts of redemption 9as perceived by the authors) of Tiger Woods. In one story (“Tiger Still Plays for redemption” http://www.braceshop.com/blog/?p=762), the author suggests that Tiger’s comeback but shortfall in the recent Masters’ tournament was great theater, but not full redemption. This suggests that a victory would have perhaps provided the golfer with that push to get him over the top, redemption-wise.
In the article “Tiger Woods Still Finding Redemption” (http://blogs.bettor.com/Tiger-Woods-still-finding-redemption-a63728) the author laments that the great golfer is seeking redemption through a course victory, but is unable to regain the amazing vitality of his game or his striking confidence. Woods instead finds himself continuing to lose fans and display aberrant behavior. But, the author suggests, Woods is capable of self-correction, at least of his golf game. The writer suggests that his personality needs work as well.
Mr. Woods can change his golf game, and correct his personal behavior. But it is only through Jesus Christ that Woods can find the redemption he is so desperately seeking. Though many of us have grown up knowing this as truth, sometimes the shock and reality that life delivers to our door causes us to reflect on this precious gift of God’s redemptive work through Christ’s death, and wonder whether or not we have taken such mercy for granted. The songwriter in the old hymn wrote:
Dying for me, dying for me,
There on the cross He was dying for me;
Now in His death my redemption I see,
All because Jesus was dying for me.
As far away from knowing what is happening in modern culture as I am, my son Joey told me of a young man named Andy Hull, who leads a group called Manchester Orchestra. In their song, “Simple Math,” Hull recounts his battle to regain his faith and restore his marriage. It seems that the loss of one thing so precious to Hull awakened his understanding of other things taken for granted. The key for me is this man’s battle to seek restoration of both relationships, committing his full energy to validate as true those things on which he believed as a youth.
These stories are fresh air to my lungs, in the midst of the toxic gas all around us of pride and self-indulgence, some of which comes from my own life at times. Truly we can do nothing of ourselves. We must admit our own weakness and failings, and first of all commit ourselves fully to One who knew of our inability to self-correct, and believe on Him who freely gave of His life so that we might be made right with our Father and Creator. Through Him then we have the courage to draw down the strength and resources we need to live in freedom and relationship with one another.
As we stand once again on the verge of another Good Friday, I pause to reflect on God’s great grace shown to me: In the saving of my eternal soul; in the gift of a beautiful life-partner (a wife to be clear); in the form of five lovely and health children (one just given a second chance at life), and in the opportunity to start anew in God’s glorious mercies each and every day. These are certainly things I have not earned, and which I receive as undeserved. Redeeming love has been my theme, and shall be ‘til I die!