Being in church since the time I was an embryo means that there are some Christianese words and phrases that have lost their vibrancy for me. I’ve known what they mean for so long that I don’t stop to internalize their truth, their potency, their vitality.
One such word has been resonating with me this week: Redeemer.
(This is completely off-point, but how sad it is that our children’s generation will grow up having never looked up a word in a dictionary! They can just google “define redeem” and this image appears for them. The notion that we used to use a physical book that contained and defined every word in our language must seem preposterous.)
A friend and I were discussing the mistakes we make with our kids. Specifically, our conversation was about how to answer our kids’ questions about intimacy and purity and babies. That is one huge minefield of a topic for parents to tiptoe through! We can get ourselves completely paranoid about how much therapy our babies will eventually need because we gave them too much information or not enough information or the right amount of information at the wrong time or with the wrong tone of voice.
My sweet friend summed it up quite well when she said, “It’s at times like these that we teach the truth as we understand it and trust that God will redeem our errors.”
God will redeem…God will redeem…
We went to my in-laws’ house for Easter dinner last week. Snow still covered most of Ontario – except my mother-in-law’s garden. The lingering winter daresn’t impede upon the glorious splendour that is Rosemary’s garden. It’s bewildering to behold.
Especially for me.
I just don’t get it. The whole gardening thing. I can’t remember where I’ve planted stuff. I can’t distinguish weeds from flowers. I prune too much or not enough and always at the wrong time. The watering, the weeding, the fertilizing, the dead-heading, the transplanting…gah! I just want to sit in the shade with a mojito and hire someone named Harrison to do the gardening for me. (Specifically, Harrison Ford. 30 years younger, while we’re at it.)
But then I noticed on Thursday (the first day that it didn’t snow) that there were things poking up out of the dirt in my garden. Green things. Living things. I have messed up that stupid garden so many times and still, there are flowers growing there. Not to my credit at all.
God will redeem…God will redeem…I’m sensing a theme…
And as you well know, I kind of suck at parenting, too. We had a rough day this week. Peace was shattered, patience was lost, tempers flew right out the window. Angry words were said, tears were shed. Everyone was wounded.
These days we are screwing up our kids in ways that are monumentally worse than when we told them too much about sex. When I fail at turning the other cheek, being slow to anger, or loving my enemy, I am failing my kids. I can’t get those moments back and fix them. I can’t unsay my angry words. I can’t infuse peace in turmoil-filled hours that are already past.
But God will redeem.
That is not to say that we can stop trying and just let God’s redemptive work take over. No, I believe we still have a responsibility to do our best and to keep working on the crap that needs work. Like Jacob, who has to stand before the Lord Almighty and explain why he lied to his father and cheated his brother, I will still need to answer for my own sin. Like David, who had to live out the rest of his life with the pain and trauma that his adultery caused him and his family, I have to deal with the fallout for my own horrible choices.
But neither Jacob nor David nor any other flawed hero derailed God’s plans. God redeems. He takes the mess and works good out of it. He takes failures and trades them in for victories.
My garden is a pretty simple analogy for what He can – and does – do in my life, in my children’s lives. I don’t know what I am doing and I have screwed things up countless times, but there is still life. There is still growth. There is beauty for which I can’t take any credit.
God will redeem.