Friday, February 24, 2012

"redeemed through Love..."

"and I know,
my Redeemer lives
let all creation testify
let this life within me cry,
I know my Redeemer lives..."

I was checking out at the grocery store this afternoon, when the clerk asked me, "Do you have any coupons to redeem?"

I smiled. I'd been thinking about "redemption" all week. Salvation, and redemption -- but mostly, redemption. An earlier piece about my grandfather, and his salvage business, "You can't take that away from me..." has been a helpful reminder that we all have an untouchable, inviolable, essential spiritual core that is always ready for salvaging. But once salvaged, it needs to be redeemed. And that is where this week's deep listening has been focused for me.

So, I guess it's not surprising that Nicole Mullin's song, "
My Redeemer" has been praying through my heart.

One of the definitions of the verb, "redeem" is: "to exchange for something of value or substance"

This is what the store clerk was referring to. She was asking me if I had a coupon, a small piece of paper, that could be given, in exchange, for something of value. Behind the coupon, was a sponsor who was willing to give the store  money -- or product -- equal to the face value of the coupon itself.

If the coupon said $1, and the store accepted it, the sponsor would reimburse the store that amount when presented with the coupon.  The coupon might offer a discount on the purchase of a product, or serve as a voucher that could be exchanged for actual goods or services. But behind the symbol, was the substance of its value.

So, what does this have to do with spiritual redemption.

For me, it represents the full measure of the working of Christ in our lives. Whenever my grandad - the consummate salvage man -- pulled sixteen feet of copper tubing from a discarded refrigerator, he had a clear plan for its redemption.

He didn't just leave it in the barn to gather dust and chicken feathers. He took it to the redemption center where they would weigh it in a balance -- a scale -- to determine it's worth. Once its value had been established, they would purchase it from my grandfather so that it could be sold to someone else for repurposing into a new product.

God has the same foresight with me. When He gives us the spiritual intuition to see below the surface stories -- the peeling facades, rusty histories, and battered dreams of a broken heart -- to the core value (the essential goodness and worth in someone's life) He has a plan for its redemption.

His intent is for our essential goodness to be redeemed for a holy purpose. To be used in humble service, and through grace to fulfill a sacred calling. He doesn't want us to hide in shame, or sit in the corner licking the wounds of regret and self-doubt. He wants us to see that nothing has ever touched the purity of who we are at our core.

An ounce of salvaged copper that has been heated and purified has the full value of a copper coin we might find in a bank vault.

Once the copper or gold is released from the dross by fire, what is essential -- the pure elements -- are the redeemable. The gold that was once embedded in igneous crust, mud, and soot, is no less valuable than the gold that once graced the crowns of kings and pharaohs.

This is the fervency [a word that means "hot, burning, glowing] desire for "growth in grace," that Mary Baker Eddy refers to her statement:

"What we most need,
is the fervent desire
for growth in grace,
expressed in patience,
meekness, love,
and good deeds."

This burning desire for grace -- to be good, to live honestly is purifying the gold in our individual natures.

And in this fervency of desire, our hearts are softened, so that we are more able to receive the engraving -- the impress -- of His name and nature on our hearts.

In this fiery furnace of a humble, meek, honest heart we discover we are pure. It is in the furnace that we are most ready to bend to His purpose for us. To be repurposed by our Redeemer, according to His holy purpose.

There is a line from a hymn (#356) that we sing in our church services. Tonight, it has a new ring to it for me:

"We, now redeemed through Love, return to Zion,
singing to Thee our deeply grateful praise;
For we are Christ's, and Chrsit is Thine, O Father;
His joy remains in us through endless days."

I feel this truth in the core of my very being. Joy is an essential element. And like all essential elements, it lives in me thorough endless cycles of repurposing.

In fact, Mary Baker Eddy says that sinless joy constitutes -- is the very make up of -- our being. It remains in us through endless days. Our joy may seem battered by grief, buffeted by pain, tarnished by regret, but below the surface -- of our day-to-day experiences, challenges, and exercises in discovering moral courage -- lies this enduring essential element.

Eddy define "Zion" as:

"Spiritual foundation and superstructure;
inspiration; spriitual strength.

Emptiness, unfaithfulness; desolation."

The first part of this definition, I believe, refers to the spiritual -- the redeemed -- sense of "Zion." The second part, refers to the chipped, battered, and bruised that would try to package itself as the home of the pure and true.

If we didn't know better, we might be fooled into thinking that the coupon (the symbol) with its gaudy colors, numeric codes, folded, tattered, even ripped from being stuffed in pockets, is the real (the substance.) But what it is redeemed for, is all that is real.

When you give the store clerk that tattered coupon, and get the actual product, or service, you never think that the coupon's condition would define the value or worth of the substance behind the symbol. Our tattered stories do not, never have, and never will define our essential value or worth.

singing with Love,
my deeply grateful praise...


1 comment:

  1. Wonderful food for thought, Kate. Thank you for your prayerful and careful writing.