A couple of my favorite things to do are visiting my son and daughter who live in the Cary, NC area and while there visiting a couple of local, used book stores and a humongus Barnes and Noble’s. Mostly in that order with a mocha latte added at some point. I occasionally stumble upon a rare find or two—which is well worth the trip in and of itself. Ordering online from Amazon is not nearly as rewarding.
My latest trip was last weekend and while there, I picked up several books of poetry by writers that I newly discovered. One of these was a book by Li-Young Lee entitled “Rose”.
In the forward to Li-Young Lee’s book, Gerald Stern makes this comment: “What characterizes Li-Young Lee’s poetry is a certain humility, a kind of cunning, a love of plain speech, a search for wisdom and understanding….a devotion to language, a belief in its holiness…and a moving personal search for redemption.”
Somehow, the last seven words of this forward caused me to ask myself just what it is the reviewer meant by this. What is a “…personal search of redemption” and why am I so suddenly struck by these words. Is it because, in the midst of my “born-again” redemption by Jesus, I am still (we are still) trying to somehow work things out as an atonement for the guilt that we feel about our lives.
Redemption, as defined by Dictionary dot com is a noun which means:
1. an act of redeeming or the state of being redeemed.
2. deliverance; rescue.
3. Theology . deliverance from sin; salvation.
4. atonement for guilt.
5. repurchase, as of something sold.
6. paying off, as of a mortgage, bond, or note.
7. recovery by payment, as of something pledged.
8. conversion of paper money into specie.
…and that my friends is a lot of weight put on this 3 syllable noun.
Paul mentions in one epistle that we “…work out our salvation with fear and trembling” yet the concept of our redemption by Jesus couldn’t be any clearer. We were stained by sin and deserved punishment (from a legal standpoint) for them and He took our punishment for us. He died that we might live.
A week or so ago, I was pondering two short words that both begin with a “g”—Guilt and Grace.
This thought revolved around thinking that most motivation in our culture is based on making us “feel” guilty about something so that we are motivated to work harder in order to please the motivator and/or assuage our feelings of guilt about it.
Guilt is partly defined as:
I know by experience that none of us like to feel bad about our personal performance be it work based or socially derived. Making someone feel bad about something is not necessarily going to make that person change his or her behavior.
On the flip side of this however is Grace and learning to motivate change within an individual from a perspective of love and understanding.
Most of us as parents have relied on both methods in raising our children. Though we didn’t mean it, our love and acceptance of our children was not fully “agape” in nature but rather in the fact that we did hold back some love when our children’s behavior was not up to snuff. In other words, it is still hard for a redeemed person to fully operate out of that sense of redemption and the life it should provide—both to us and to others.
I guess the bigger question is why do I still feel a sense of guilt about my life and how do I fully appropriate the fact that Jesus eradicated my sin debt. When do I start feeling so good about myself that no matter how I am treated (praised or abused) I am not overly swayed by feelings of pride or inadequacy.
I guess the fact that I am still asking these questions and looking for answers is a good thing—it means I am still a part of the human race—alive and kicking. Yet I am seriously looking for that place of peace, that place of abiding in rest—the fact that I have not fully arrived at my destination or the answer to my questions—is a part of the journey, a part of the ride that we are all on. One if by land and two if by sea. C U later.