Creative Redemption

As I read Andy Crouch’s Culture Making, I am struck by how God continuously redeems the messes that humanity creates. And he does a better job at fixing things than I can even dream to do! Quite honestly, the more I try to fix things sometimes, the more I make it worse.

People have asked me about the special service I held to mark the end of the court journey and to pray for my family. I often haven’t had words. It was beautiful, powerful, meaningful. But one thing that I have said and continue to say as I watch it unfold, there was a lot of creative redemption in that evening. The layers of this creative redemption are still being uncovered.

The sermon I preached was just one – but a significant one – piece of redemption. I argued with God about preaching. I put forth every argument against it I could think of. In the end, God won. Writing it was an interesting process. Preaching is an awesome task – to speak from God’s word. I love to write – but writing sermons is different. I suppose I should strive to honour God with everything I write, but each time I write a sermon I am acutely aware of this. After it was written, I realized that I was probably the only person who could get up in the room and speak these words. I’ve been told by a few people how important this was. I am thankful that God did not let me bow out in fear.

But the elements of creative redemption have been realized after that evening. I want to share two of them along with a recording of me preaching. I hate watching a video of myself and I reviewed it with almost enough cringe to prevent me from posting ;-). But there is something at the end that words alone cannot capture.

I realized that I stood at a podium, in front of people – some who I knew and others I had just met. I was there to speak of the situation involving my stepfather. I was to speak from my heart and to speak truth in a very messy and complicated situation.

The last time I spoke about my father in a public place was in court. This new ‘court’ so to speak held so much redemption of my previous ‘public speaking’. Here I stood in a spot speaking a topic that once held fear, timidity, shame and embarrassment… but this time with boldness, joy and peace. Once again I felt God’s physical presence around and in me. But the context of the small chapel, I testified to a different truth – instead of wounds and pain, I testified of hope and joy.

But there is something even more beautiful and redemptive than this and it is why I am willing to post the video. You will either have to skip to the end or watch the whole thing to see AND hear what I am getting at. Admittedly, the video does not show the intensity of the moment that I felt, but it gives a glimpse.

Five years ago, shortly after I had gone to the police, life had become unbearable as I dealt with the complex feelings around this and the continued separation from my family. I decided to take my life into my own hands. One night, almost exactly five years before I preached, was the darkest night of my life. I stood before God and renounced my faith. I remember my bold and angry words very clearly – “I would rather die and live in hell then live for God.”

Oh how different my life is now. It’s been a journey of ups and downs and some dark valleys. I have to say I have amazing people in my life who did not give up on me.

I have identified a lot with Peter in Scripture who denied Christ. And the guilt and pain of doing so. I have always loved the story post resurrection in which Jesus asks Peter three times “Do you love me?” Peter was hurt. But there is, I believe, some creative redemption in this for Peter denied Christ three times and was able to say that he loves Christ three times.

Privately I had renounced my faith. But on the night of this service, I was publicly proclaiming my faith. Watch my voice change and the smile on my face, and how I move with a freedom that wasn’t visible in the rest of the video. I publicly spoke to God that I love him – the dearest dealer – that I so love him. Click here for my sermon

Do you know what an awesome gift that has been to me? I didn’t plan it that way. The creative redemption was all God. Do you know how much it meant to me to say to God in front of those who have watched me break and heal, break and heal, that I love God? Do you know how awesome it is to feel love and joy for God with my heart, soul and mind?

I love that I serve a God who creates beauty out of ugly things. I love that I serve a God who orchestrates beauty and meaning that is redemptive.

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