Dust, Redeemed

I believe in a God of little things.

Of big things, too, but also an orchestrator of little things–the kind I overlook on a daily basis, but occasionally catch a glimpse of.

Sunday morning as I got ready for church, I listened to Gungor’s “Beautiful Things.” It had been a while since I listened to it, and I realized we hadn’t sung it in church for a while either.

When I arrived at church that morning, there was “Beautiful Things” on the set list.

A little thing, and just the one I needed.

Not only is it a gorgeous song, it’s one that holds a lot of meaning. Last spring we had a worship service in our building before all the construction had been completed. As literal dust caked the soles of our shoes and hung in the air, we sang the words “You make beautiful things out of the dust,” laced with our hopes for the ways we’d see God work there. It was a glorious, goose bump and tear-inducing moment.

And this week, as we sang it again, I looked around at the nicely painted walls, the finished floor, the rows of people who likely didn’t even know the church existed those months ago, and it was a goose bump and tear-inducing moment again. It has been so exciting to be part of the church as we take up residence in our new building, figuring out who we are as a church and what it means for our community and how we use this gift of space.

We have physically seen God make beautiful things out of dust.

While “Beautiful Things” is certainly fitting for my church, it also feels fitting on a personal level at the start of a new year. Every year brings with it some “dust”—some unexpecteds that we’d rather do without. 2013 didn’t have as many as some of my other years, but it still had them.

It also had moments of seeing how God can use the dust of years gone by to do something amazing.

Even beautiful.

So that’s what I’m looking forward to this year: the ways that God redeems dust and turns it into good things.

Maybe it’ll be more of a dust-accumulating year than a dust-redeeming one, but I’m hoping I’ll know enough to pay attention. It may not always be in big ways or ones that I see right away, or there may be dust that is only and ever that—dust—but there is possibility.

I believe in a God who redeems dust.

Til next time…

~Brianna!~

p.s. How have you seen God redeem dust?

Redemptive Goldfish

In the span of my ten minute drive to work yesterday, I decided it was time for a pet. Seeing as my house is still fuller than normal, a goldfish seemed the best way to go.

Naming things is very important to me, be it a pet or even some of my inanimate objects. (Example: my current car is named Cleo. It took me several weeks to decide on this name.)

Needing a quick way to get as many opinions as possible, I posted a Facebook status announcing to the world my decision to acquire a goldfish, and requested suggestions for names; preferably biblical, male names. Though I received many good suggestions, none seemed quite right.

As I went through my work day, I happened to come across the story of King Manasseh as found in II Chronicles 33. (Yes, I really was working—when you work at a Christian publishing company, flipping through the Bible sometimes does qualify as work. Which is pretty cool.)

I noticed Manasseh because I had names on the brain, and thought, “Manasseh would make a pretty good fish name.” Then I read his story.

Manasseh the Goldfish

Manasseh the Goldfish

Manasseh became king at the age of twelve, and “led Judah and the people of Jerusalem astray, so that they did more evil than the nations the Lord had destroyed before the Israelites.”  (II Chronicles 33:9, NIV) He built idols, worshiped the gods of the nations surrounding Judah, even sacrificed his own sons—not what God had in mind for the ruler of his people.

So God let Manasseh be taken captive by Assyria. Only then, after being ripped from his land and position of power, did Manasseh see his foolishness.

In his distress he sought the favor of the Lord his God and humbled himself greatly before the God of his fathers. And when he prayed to him, the Lord was moved by his entreaty and listened to his plea; so he brought him back to Jerusalem and to his kingdom. Then Manasseh knew that the Lord is God. (II Chronicles 33:12-13)

 

It’s a redemption story. As I quoted here in a post about everyday redemption, to redeem is to buy back. To set free by paying a ransom. To deliver from sin and its penalties, as by a sacrifice made for the sinner.

After his piles of sin, Manasseh did not seem like a likely candidate for redemption. But, as Albert Wolters writes in his book Creation Regained,

“Nothing in the world ought to be despaired of. Hope is grounded in the constant availability and the insistent presence of the good creation, even in those situations in which it is being terribly violated.”

It is one of my favorite quotes about redemption (and I’ve used it before over here). As one of the worst kings Judah ever had, Manasseh was a prime example of violating God’s creation by blatantly disobeying what God had told him to do. Yet God heard him, rescued him from his plight, and redeemed him.

And so, Manasseh. An unlikely name for a goldfish, perhaps. If he goes the way of his predecessors, he may not swim for long; but even so, he will serve as a reminder that redemption is not only possible, but a reason to hope.

“Nothing in the world ought to be despaired of.”

Til next time…

~Brianna!~

Not the End

Typically I’ve avoided posting the full lyrics to songs, but in this case, I think it’s important. There is beautiful, hopeful truth in these words.

This is Not the End–Gungor

This is not the end
This is not the end of this
We will open our eyes wide, wider

This is not our last
This is not our last breath
We will open our mouths wide, wider

And you know you’ll be alright
Oh and you know you’ll be alright

This is not the end
This is not the end of us
We will shine like the stars bright, brighter

As a reader, sometimes I can’t help but think of my life as a book. It would have neatly divided chapters, a well-thought out plot, characters that can easily be categorized as “good” or “bad” and who come and go in the course of the story. And, as with all books, there is an ending, maybe happy or sad or somewhere in between, that wraps things up. Or leaves them frustratingly open-ended, as the case may be.

My life is not like that. At least, not right now.

Granted, there are some characters that have been in my story that I don’t think will be making return appearances, whether because of distance, dislike, or simply being in new phases of life. That’s okay. Normal, even, for people to come into our lives and to leave it at some point.

There are other characters that have been around for a while, and I think will continue to be on pages for the foreseeable future. Whether it’s every day, every few months, or every few years, I have a sense that our paths will keep crossing. And that’s okay too.

This is where my struggle comes in though: plot. Twists and turns, good and bad, that may leave me laughing or crying or both. These plot points involve characters that will continue to be in my life at least for the next little bit, so it is difficult for me to remember…

There is more to be written.

This is not the end.

This is not the end of this.

“This is Not the End” is not only a beautiful song, it is a helpful reminder. Whether in a time of joy or one of despair, there are more words to be spoken, more steps to be taken, more life to be lived. And I find myself pondering again the thought of redemption, and the beauty and the gift of hope. The idea that despair, sadness, darkness does not have to be the final word.

I’ve written about redemption before, but I just can’t seem to help doing it again. In Albert Wolters’ book Creation Regained he writes “Nothing in the world ought to be despaired of. Hope is grounded in the constant availability and the insistent presence of the good creation, even in those situations in which it is being terribly violated.” There is reason for hope of brighter, better things, because even in the messy brokenness of the world, there is also good, beauty, and light. Even though I may not be able to see it or feel it at every single moment, redemption may be lurking around the corner, just out of sight.

Or it might not be.

That’s the thing though…hope for it remains. Because this is not the end. There are more words to be added…

Til next time…

~Brianna!~

p.s. Previous thoughts on redemption… https://awritespot.wordpress.com/2011/06/14/lurking-redemption/