Monday, December 17, 2012

"Redeemed..."



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

At a dear friend's request, I am resurrecting this post from last February.  I offer it with love...


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..." had 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 one of the songs praying through my heart.

One of the definitions for 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, printed piece of paper - that I could give her in exchange for something of value. 


 Behind that coupon, was a sponsor.  A manufacturer who was willing to give the store money, or product, that would represent the face value of the coupon itself. If the coupon said $1 and the store accepted it, the sponsor would reimburse the store for that amount when presented with the coupon. 

It could be a coupon for a discount on the purchase of product, or a voucher that I could exchange the coupon for actual goods, merchandise, or services. But behind the symbol -- the coupon -- 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 Christ working in our lives. 


Whenever my grandad" salvaged 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, determine it's worth, and then purchase it from my grandfather.  Later it would be sold to someone else -- a manufacturer or craftsman -- for recycling into a product that had a more current usefulness and value.

God has the same foresight with me. 


When He gives me the spiritual intuition to see below the surface rust and chipped enamel -- the peeling paint and battered dreams of a broken heart -- to the core value, the essential goodness and worth in someone's life (including my own) He has a plan for redemption.

He needs our essential goodness to be redeemed for a holy purpose. He has the truth of who we essentially are "in Mind."  He has never lost sight of how we will be used, in humility and through grace, to fulfill a sacred calling. 


 He doesn't want us to hide in shame.  It does Him no good for us to 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 copper (or gold) once salvaged -- and purified in the fire of self-knowledge, humility, and love -- is just as valuable and useful as what we might purchase from jeweler, or find in a bank vault. 


Once purified in the fire -- where the dross is burned away -- what is essential remains.  The pure elements -- gold, copper, silver, Life, Truth, Love -- are ever the same. The gold that was once embedded in igneous crust, or buried in mud and soot, is no less valuable than the gold that has graced the crown of kings and pharaohs.

This fervent [a word that means "hot, burning, glowing, a passionate intensity"] 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 desire, this passionate desire to be good, to live honestly, to grow in grace, is ever at work, purifying the gold in our natures. 


 In this fervency of desire for salvation, we are softened so that we are able to receive the engraving of His name and His nature on our hearts. 


And it is here -- in this fiery furnace of a humble, meek, honest heart -- that we are most pure.  And it is here that we are as ready as we will ever be, to be useful to Him. 


To be recycled by our Redeemer - our God - according to His holy purpose, is an amazing gift of grace.

There is a line from a hymn that has new depth for me tonight:



"We, now redeemed through Love, return to Zion,
singing to Thee our deeply grateful praise;

For we are Christ's, and Christ is Thine, O Father;

His joy remains in us through endless days."


I feel this truth to the core of my very being. 

 Like gold or copper, joy is an essential element. In fact, Mary Baker Eddy says that "sinless joy," actually, constitutes our being. 


This joy remains in us through endless days. It may seem battered by grief, buffeted by pain, tarnished by regret, shattered by disappointment, but below the surface of our day-to-day experiences -- the challenges, demands, mistakes, and all that exercises in us the discovery of moral courage -- lie these changeless essential elements of being.   


Joy, humility, innocence, beauty, grace, honesty, purity -- are always ready and waiting to be used in His field of service. 


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 -- to the "redeemed" sense of "Zion."

The second, I believe, refers to the chipped, battered, and bruised view of our lives. That which would try to call itself the home of the pure and true. It would try to say that the coupon, the symbol -- gaudy, flimsy, crammed with codes, folded, tattered, even ripped from being hastily stuffed in a pocket -- is the real.

But the redeemed 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 actual cash or product you've received.

I know, my Redeemer lives.  And redeemed, through Love, I return to Zion (my spiritual foundation) singing with Love,

my deeply grateful praise...


Kate


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