"I am a Redeemer. I redeem all things. I make all things new. Whatever you've lost I will restore. It doesn't matter what you've done. It doesn't matter what's happened to you. I can take all the hurt, the pain, and the scars. Not only can I heal them, but I can make them count for something."
-God to Stormie Omartian
I shared this quote last May in my post about challenges, and the words make so much more sense now than they ever did before. God can and he wants to take all of the hurt, pain and scars. He wants to heal me and make those scars count for something.
A past littered with failures and struggles can become an overcoming tide of pain and suffering. As the salt water stings your eyes, you gasp for breath, knowing that every second is a fight to hold on. Waves seem daunting when they're rushing towards us and yet, waves have another purpose, too. They wash us clean. As each of us plays along the beach, our legs kick up the sticky sand and it gets stuck in our wet swimming suits. When we're done building sand castles and burying ourselves in the sand, we scamper to the water's edge and keep moving until it's deep enough to swim, and then we take the plunge, letting our whole bodies be submerged under the salty surf.
Does this remind you of living the Christian life? It does in my mind. The sand reminds me of sin. We enjoy playing in sin for a while, thinking it will offer satisfaction, while all the while it is becoming a great burden. Just as sand gets 'stuck' in all the little pockets and tiny enclosed corners of a bathing suit, sin gets stuck in the most hidden parts of our heart, and so we think that no one will notice that it's there. Even though it's out of sight, others know it exists because we are all sinful, each of us from the time our mothers conceived us in their wombs (Psalm 51:5). And just as sand is composed of a great multitude of infinitesimal grains, so our lives are full of too many sins to count.
But the beauty of the waves washing over us signifies God's forgiveness, mercy and grace, as he removes the sand (sin) from our lives. If we will confess our sins, he'll forgive us and purify us in the waves of his mercy. What an amazing promise that is!
If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just and will forgive us our sins and purify us from all unrighteousness. -1 John 1:9 (NIV)
Waves can be daunting and scary and sometimes they can even kill a person if they become too strong. Although we may be at first terrified of the waves, they are the only way to be cleansed, so we must face them. Whether we are fearful or fearless, the waves will be there. It is better to trust and obey, because fear can cause us to take a step back onto the safety of the shore, where we will once again be made to face pains from the past. While death in and of itself is a horrible, no good thing, the death of one killed for spreading the Gospel brings about many new lives, and so God can bring good from even the most despairing times, even after a death.
I tell you the truth, unless a kernel of wheat is planted in the soil and dies, it remains alone. But its death will produce many new kernels--a plentiful harvest of new lives. -John 12:24 (NLT)
Going back to what I first wrote...we all have hurt, pain and scars in our lives and God not only sets us free from them, but also brings good from them. Our past experiences with sin provide us with opportunities to share God's amazing love and forgiveness with others who may be suffering in the same way we have, and who may be desperately longing for encouragement. We can let our light stream through the curtains, dispelling the darkness with the powerful rays of light that God has given us.
Just as there is always another wave waiting to wash us clean of sand in our suits, there is in the same way, waves of God's forgiveness always available for us to swim out to and come clean. Sin entangles us and slows us down, but God's forgiveness sets us free and gives us endurance as we run the race, keeping our eyes on the prize (Hebrews 12:1).
The LORD is slow to anger and filled with unfailing love, forgiving every kind of sin and rebellion. But he does not excuse the guilty. He lays the sins of the parents upon their children; the entire family is affected--even children in the third and fourth generations.' -Numbers 14:18 (NLT)
Let's not forget that as Christians, we are light in this dark, sin-filled world. Don't hide your light. Instead, shine it brightly for all to see, so that they will praise God.
“You are the light of the world—like a city on a hilltop that cannot be hidden. No one lights a lamp and then puts it under a basket. Instead, a lamp is placed on a stand, where it gives light to everyone in the house. In the same way, let your good deeds shine out for all to see, so that everyone will praise your heavenly Father.” -Matthew 5:14-16 (NLT)
Stop and listen to this song, which has been on my heart and mind lately and also fits incredibly well with what I've just said.
Now go and be light to the world!