I don’t think I’ll ever tire of looking for and recognizing the Lord’s redeeming work. I’m reminded of Nathanael sitting under the fig tree when Philip found him and told him about Jesus. I love his initial response. The guy from Nazareth…can anything good come from Nazareth!? (John 1: 44-51)
Can you picture the expression on Nathanael’s face as he says this to Phillip? I can. I’m certain my face has contorted itself into that same expression before on many occasions.
And, Jesus’ ministry was and still is the work of redemption. He came to heal the sick and eat dinner with the outcasts. He came to breathe new life into the hopeless and the lost. He came to humble the proud and strengthen the weak. He came to offer himself in our place, to become the slaughtered Lamb.
A few years ago, our pastor pointed out something I had never taken notice of before. In the book of Revelation, standing in the throne room, Jesus is depicted as a slaughtered bloody lamb. Perfection includes something that seems so opposite of perfect. And yet…
What a beautiful reminder that God can redeem all that is lost. In the throne room, you don’t expect to see a depiction of pain…but it’s exactly what we see and what we need to see. We need to see the hope in the ugly. We need to cling to the promises that God can take anything we have gone through or will go through and redeem it.
“God can do anything, you know—far more than you could ever imagine or guess or request in your wildest dreams!” Ephesians 3:20 Message
Over the years, I’ve had the pleasure and the joy of watching God work in situations that look and feel completely hopeless. I’ve watched the Lord extend His hand of grace and mercy over and over in my own life.
He’s faithfully sat with me in pits (of my own doing), walked with me through valleys, and rescued me from raging seas. And through each experience, I have seen glimpses of His incredible beauty and the depths of His love. Glimpses and depths that I know I would never have seen from the mountaintops. Never.
I guess I think about all this because my birthday is quickly approaching. This Saturday I will turn 47.
47!?! Can anything good from that?!? 😉
I’ve also been thinking of my 44th birthday all week. I went to bed the night before I turned 44 knowing that my dad would most likely pass away on my birthday. As many of you know, my dad had a life altering stroke in 2012. It paralyzed his left side. He was unable to walk and was bedridden for four long years.
A few days before my 44th birthday my dad’s health took another turn. I was able to call his caretaker the night before he died and the caretaker put the phone up to my dad’s ear so I could tell him I loved him, so I could tell him that I was so grateful God had chosen him to be my dad, and to thank him for loving me.
As I drifted off to sleep that night, a story I had written about on my blog several years ago suddenly came to mind. It was the story my mom shared with me about going into labor with me and asking my dad to wash her feet before taking her to the hospital to give birth to me. At the time, we lived in Florida and my mom didn’t want the delivery doctors looking at her flip flop filthy summer feet while I popped into the world!
The next morning, my oldest brother called to tell me our dad had passed away at 4:30am that morning…my 44th birthday.
I think it’s only through the lens of grace that one can see loss and grief on a day that is supposed celebrate being born as a gift…but that’s exactly how I received it. It was like the Lord was whispering affirmations into my soul: I can turn a story about dirty feet into a beautiful picture of love.
It’s a gift I have been opening up on my birthday every year since my dad’s passing. How beautiful and fitting it is to remember (on my birthday) the two people who helped bring me into this world.
A world mixed with pain and healing, sorrow and joy, death and life.