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  • July 11, 2014 - Reflections

    By Jean S. Horner
    The other day while walking down a corridor in a public building, I saw what appeared to be someone walking toward me. On coming closer, I found it was my own reflection in a huge mirror. For a moment it frightened me. Somehow a full-length reflection of one’s self is a startling thing. ...

The Jesus-Hearted Woman: No Rewind, Only Redemption

By Jodi Detrick
Feb. 23, 2014

My bad. Those two words have become modern vernacular for “it was my fault,” or “my mistake.” Everyone reading this has regrets, and for some they’ve become heavy, damp, flame-smothering blankets of depression that bury the glow of future ministry potential — maybe even the possibility of joyful living. This is for you, my friend: there is no rewind. There is only redemption. But a redeemed life is even better than a rewind because through it, Jesus showcases hope to others who feel their mistakes have left them unqualified for significance and service.

News flash: Jesus didn’t come because we have it all together and never get ourselves into messy circumstances of our own making (usually with contributions and complications from others). In fact, that’s precisely why He came — because we do blow it, both intentionally and unintentionally. Why, as believers, can we emphatically believe and express this to those who don’t know Jesus yet can’t see it for ourselves?

The Bible is filled with people who loved God but at some point in their lives did stupid and sinful things. Moses and David were each murderers (add lust, lying, and adultery to David’s wickedness). Naomi was bitter, Samuel was a negligent parent, and don’t even get me started on Solomon and all those extra wives! We’ve already discussed Peter’s hypocrisy toward the Gentiles (not to mention that little incident of denying his Lord), and Paul had such strong conflicts with co-ministers that they had to go their separate ways. Yet they, and we, would have missed so much if they had just given up when they missed the mark.

I like what Paul wrote in 1 Timothy 1:12–14: “I thank Christ Jesus our LORD, who has given me strength, that he considered me trustworthy, appointing me to his service. Even though I was once a blasphemer and a persecutor and a violent man, I was shown mercy because I acted in ignorance and unbelief. The grace of our LORD was poured out on me abundantly, along with the faith and love that are in Christ Jesus” (emphasis mine).

Even though. We all have an “even though.” Can we move past our past, those regrets of sin and failure, to an “even though” resilience, and a willingness to resume service for our God?

In the verses following (15 and 16) Paul goes on to say, “Here is a trustworthy saying that deserves full acceptance: Christ Jesus came into the world to save sinners — of whom I am the worst. But for that very reason I was shown mercy so that in me, the worst of sinners, Christ Jesus might display his immense patience as an example for those who would believe in him and receive eternal life.”

I’ll say it again: a redeemed life is better than a rewind because others get to see the “immense patience” of Jesus on display! When you, as the recipient of His mercy, are resilient and determined to get back up and move forward, others will believe there is hope for them to do the same.

You might be thinking, but Paul’s “even though” was before he was a believer. Mine was after. Listen, Peter had already spent three years with Jesus, in the flesh no less, before his “even though.” Are you kidding me? There are whole books in the New Testament written almost entirely for the purpose of correcting the mistakes of believers whose sinful or stupid behavior had knocked the wind out of them! If God had no purpose in mind for them beyond their mistakes, why would He inspire those books to be written?

As a reminder, here are a few New Testament “even though” moments:

• My brothers and sisters, some from Chloe’s household have informed me that there are quarrels among you. (1 Corinthians 1:11)

• You are still worldly. For since there is jealousy and quarreling among you, are you not worldly? Are you not acting like mere humans? (1 Corinthians 3:2)

• It is actually reported that there is sexual immorality among you, and of a kind that even pagans do not tolerate: A man is sleeping with his father’s wife. (1 Corinthians 5:1)

• The very fact that you have lawsuits among you means you have been completely defeated already. Why not rather be wronged? Why not rather be cheated? Instead, you yourselves cheat and do wrong, and you do this to your brothers and sisters. (1 Corinthians 6:7,8)

• Come back to your senses as you ought, and stop sinning; for there are some who are ignorant of God — I say this to your shame. (1 Corinthians 15:34)

Those are just a few verses from only one New Testament book! Do you think the Corinthians may have had a few “my bad” issues? Yet Paul includes these words as he wraps up this book: “Be on your guard; stand firm in the faith; be courageous; be strong. Do everything in love” (1 Corinthians 16:13,14). That doesn’t sound like he was addressing a group whom he, or God, had written off because of their failures.

I love these verses in Hebrews right in the middle of a chapter that describes how God disciplines us to produce holiness: “Therefore, strengthen your feeble arms and weak knees. ‘Make level paths for your feet,’ so that the lame may not be disabled, but rather healed” (Hebrews 12:12,13). It’s like the Lord is telling us, “Yes, I know all about your weakness and spiritual disabilities, but it’s time to regain your strength and get healthy again. I have places for you to go!”

It’s easy to feel like one episode will stain your whole life. It doesn’t have to if you learn to be resilient and keep moving forward. People really can come back, even from big mistakes. It’s called grace: God’s priceless gift to fallible people.

From The Jesus-Hearted Woman by Jodi Detrick (Springfield, Mo.: Influence Resources, 2013). Excerpted with permission.

JODI DETRICK is an author and religion columnist for The Seattle Times.


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