Redemption

redemption
Redemption has been the theme over the last couple of weeks at church, specifically the promise of “a new thing” that Isaiah prophesied in the verse above – and actually, if we look back further it was a recurring theme through the month of May. I suppose redemption applies and appeals to everyone in one way or another, but as is usually the case I have heard the words and read the scripture as if God was saying them directly to me. (Which, I’ve learned, is pretty much the point.)

See, I am doing a new thing!
Now it springs up; do you not perceive it?

~Isaiah 43:19(a), NIV

Our pastor expounded on these words and illustrated that God is offering “hope beyond our brokenness” and is preparing “a season of redemption” for each of us. He will make the bad into good, the ugly into beautiful, and the good into better.

I’ve always been open about my faith journey – my beliefs, my questions, and my doubts. Throughout my life I have had periods of strong engagement with God, usually followed by periods of equally strong detachment. I was certain that my questions had no place in the faith of my childhood, and because it was a faith I embraced on my own (“we” as a family weren’t church-goers) it seemed like a faith I could easily shake.

My testimony is long and has its own page so I will only go into the latest chapter of it here.

Brian and I decided before we had Arthur that we weren’t going to bother with baptizing him. We didn’t attend church regularly, and we figured that he – like us – would have the freedom to choose his own spiritual path when he is old enough to do so. For awhile it was easy to ignore that decision, but at the beginning of the year we attended a few services and Kathy, our beloved former youth pastor/officiant, asked us pointedly if we had done so yet.

But I didn’t hear Kathy asking – I heard God. “This is my child, who I have placed in your care. Won’t you commit him to me as you committed yourself to me?” So I nodded enthusiastically.

“Not yet, but we’d love to get it scheduled! Can you participate?” From there I emailed our head pastor and set the date for one that Kathy would be in service, and it was done. April 13 we brought our closest family to service with us, and when they called for us we brought Arthur to the altar with his godparents (his aunt and uncle).

I don’t know how other denominations do it, but here’s what the parents or sponsors pledge in the Methodist baptism service:

Will you nurture these children (persons)
in Christ’s holy Church,
that by your teaching and example they may be guided
to accept God’s grace for themselves,
to profess their faith openly,
and to lead a Christian life?

When I said “I will” I made a promise as binding as the ones I made the day I married Brian. Ultimately, Arthur’s baptism was about more than presenting him as a child of God, more than bringing God’s blessing down on him.

It was the catalyst for my ultimate redemption.

God is always doing a new thing in our lives. We cannot always sense it, and sometimes we actively avoid seeing it, but when we listen to the voice in our hearts and stop fighting grace, it’s there.

“Ultimate redemption” is certainly moving, but also certainly an exaggeration. Redemption is never quite finished and I know that will never be quite finished either. But I am finished with the side trips on my faith journey. I will stumble and I will fall and I will question, but I know that all of that is okay. Fear and stress and doubt are only barriers to redemption if I choose to focus on them instead of turning my eyes to the light of God. Surrender can make us pretty strong.

See, I am doing a new thing too.

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