A few years after my husband and I got married, we moved away from family to go to seminary. Both my husband and I were taking graduate classes and he was working a full time, minimum wage job. I was struggling as a mother and we were struggling in marriage. Neither of us were actively pursuing Christ daily like we should have been, and we were using busyness and the pressures of being adults in a demanding world as an excuse. Everything felt broken and I was hurting so much that I was unable to minister to my family well.
Ironically, at a time when I most needed to be in counseling, I was taking counseling classes in order to minister to hurting people. And then, part of the required reading for one of my assignments was this beautiful passage, Revelation 21:1-5—a passage about how the old, broken world is passing away, but it will be replaced with a place where all things in it are new. All things.
This was the first time I had ever really encountered this passage, and it struck me so deeply. So, I wrote it down. I underlined it in my Bible, I wrote it in my journal, I meditated on it often, and I was filled with hope. God was gracious and began working in our hearts and our lives, drawing us closer to Him and closer to each other, as we began going to Him daily.
Over time we were able to see God transform our relationships with Him. We were able to see Him transform our marriage. We saw Him transform how I parented, related to and love my children. We saw Him transform our stress and anxiety into gratitude and peace. We saw Him bring us to a good place where we could see these areas of our life redeemed. The work God did in my life was incredible, and if someone would have asked me this time last year, I would have said that I was in a really good place.
But God wasn’t satisfied to stop there. He saw what was deep in my heart, what only He knew was there, and He wanted to redeem even that.
Last summer I got a phone call that dug a big hole in the nice, smooth surface of my heart, exposing what had been buried for far too long. Childhood sexual abuse, life as a TCK, and feeling dismissed and forgotten by parents struggling with a rebellious older sibling had brought pain and shame that I, as a child, didn’t know how to deal with.
When I left home for college, I gave myself a new story and did my best to assume the identity that the world expected from me. I went to church. I helped lead small groups with Campus Ministries. I let people believe I came from an idyllic family and had no problems. All of the pain and shame got buried away, out of sight, where it couldn’t hurt me.
Or so I thought.
It turns outs that even when we bury the ugly, painful, sin induced problems of our lives, they don’t go away or diminish. All that I thought I had buried neatly out of sight manifested in my life in new ways. I became completely consumed by fear of Man, had recurring struggles with depression and overwhelming anxiety and even began lying to everyone in my life in an effort to keep people from seeing my shame. It wasn’t until last summer that the light was finally shed on all these dead things in my heart and I was able to start seeing how they had infected all of the other areas of my life.
Since that phone call last summer, God has been showing me He doesn’t just want to redeem on the surface of my life. He wants to till the soil, expose all that is dead and redeem even that. He has been showing me that when He says He is making all things right and new, He really does mean ALL THINGS.
Whether that is my struggling marriage, my rocky relationships with others, my parenting fails, or the immense shame I had been carrying deep in my heart since I was a child… in Christ, redemption is for all things.
This isn’t unique to me. Each of us has a story. Each of us has a desperate need for the Lord’s redemption. What dead things need redeeming in your life? How have you seen God already doing redemptive work, making all things new?