Friday, December 27, 2013


As seasons change, the old passes away and the new is come. Or so it seems. Or so we hope.

That's the way we think about things - that there are new things and old things. That there were once things, but those things are no more and now there are different things. That things either are or they are not and that, once broken, things can (and must) simply be replaced.

I have to say, this has kind of distorted my view of redemption.

Because I think for so long, when I've turned to God (and I'm not alone in this), what I've wanted more than anything is for God to make me new. I've wanted Him not to restore me but to replace me. With a better, newer, more whole version of myself as He's created me to be. 

I don't want to repair my broken relationships; I want to start new ones. In many cases, with the same people. All whilst I try to convince them that I'm not who I was. I don't want to carry old stories; I want to tell new ones. In many cases, with my own distorted versions of the former. I don't want my wounds to scab over and scar; I want new flesh without the signs of the hurt. I want raw, pink, perfect flesh in even my most damaged places. Something new. Please, Lord. Replace me!

It sounds kind of weird to say it that way. I would never so boldly use such a word with God, not in reality. I would never beg to be replaced because in that very word, I understand the richness and depth of what has been created in me and I wouldn't want to lose any piece of that. As it turns out, I kind of like myself as God is forming me, warts and all. And as my heart starts to cry, "Replace me!," knowing that is so often what I'm asking in not as many words, I find an even deeper pang crying, "Use me!" And in the essence of that, redeem me, Lord.

Could you imagine if every time you longed for replacement, God did just that? Could you imagine if He replaced you? You'd have to start over. Every time. You'd have to create new memories, new foundations, new faith. You'd have to discover a way to relate - to yourself, to your God, to your world. And when you failed again, you'd cry "Replace me!" and you'd have to start over once more.

My life has seen a lot of seasons. They have all brought some measure of change. And quite often, I have longed for the opportunity to start over. I have yearned to be someone new, to create new relationships and new joys and a new life. I have ached because those who have been in my life have not followed my change as profoundly as I have; they have not seen my growth, my new nature as quickly as I would like. There are people in my life who will always see me as I was seventeen, twenty-two, thirty seasons ago, if such a thing could be numbered. They will always see who they thought they saw and never anything more. That has always been a point of great agony for me. Because when I look in the mirror, I want to see who I am becoming and not always who I was and people like this always remind me who I was.

And yet in this past season, it's been slightly different. I have found some measure of harmony between who I was and who I am becoming. The two don't have to be at odds with one another. In fact, each enhances the other. That's strange to say, but it's true: who I was is a formational part of who I am and who I will be...but at the same time, who I am and who I will be lends depth to all that I was. Somehow, and I don't claim to understand, it all works out.

I don't long to be replaced any more, although some of the ache is still there. In my weaker moments, I find myself praying that old prayer, responding to that longing to just be wholly, fully, forever different without a glimpse of the past. Then I get a glimpse of my past and recognize how it plays into this place and how this place changes even my past. And in one fleeting moment, I finally understand redemption.

I look in the mirror and fully know, I am redeemed.

I am not wholly new. I am not wholly different. But I somehow make sense, all of a sudden. And that's the difference.

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