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Playoffs Defeats + Japanese Magnolias = Beautiful Redemption

March 3, 2012

At this time of the year in a place called Nacogdoches, Texas, if you drive around you will see the pink blossoms of the Japanese Magnolia. You start to see them pop out as if they hear the sounds of softballs or baseballs hitting bats at the start of season. It’s as if they feel the buzz of the local high school basketball teams in the county during playoffs. They seem to come out to take part in the excited chatter of the local university students making spring break and summer plans…

The Japanese Magnolias, along with the busting of redbuds and new grass signal the transition of seasons. Nature’s proof of something big. Nothing less than the beginning of the world’s redemption after passing through the long winter months.

How much can we learn from the redemption so visibly seen in creation. We end up slogging through our personal winters and forgetting to take notice that God truly is in the redemption business. And even though we have all had moments where we don’t want to believe it, but when it comes to grace and redemption, business is always good, on more than just the “economic” levels

Now that does not mean at all that the business of grace and redemption is a fun business. As humans we forget sometimes to differentiate between the business of redemption and the shiny happy joy that is the result of redemption. Have no doubt, when we are in the middle of hard core redemption, there is real growth going on. Once again, have no doubt that when real growth is going on, it is very, very rarely pain free.

The Japanese Magnolias that I saw blooming were much needed reminders of redemption. Especially after watching a couple of seniors play their last basketball game in a playoff loss. The looks on their faces spoke the questions of the search for redemption. They may not understand it for a while (they are high school boys after all!), but the growth they experienced with their team as they left it all on the court will not be seen until they reflect on the sweat and effort and tears spent building a community. When they look back one day, they will understand that they have not been redeemed in a victory on a court, but by authentic relationships. They have not been redeemed by numbers on a scoreboard, but by the selfless giving of themselves to one another for something bigger than they can attain by themselves.

We are constantly on cycles of growth and redemption. Going through the pain of the business of it and then basking in the joys of the end product.

I have often found myself hanging out in my own personal Ninevah’s. Those dark places that I do not want to be but have been called to go because God needs me to pass through there. I have found myself focusing on the mud and the ruts I’m stuck in while there too. Losing sight of the blossom to come bloom because I’m too concerned with my self and my hatred of the Ninevah that I am in.

In you are in that place, please know that I am pulling for you. Don’t take this as just cheap encouragement or a glad handing “you can do it”. I know it may seem that you have given all you can, but give some more to God. Because redemption is also one of those things that is often bigger than our ability to attain ourselves.

Trust that as the Japanese Magnolia endures a cold winter before it gets redeemed in bloom, you too will experience the joyfulness that is the product of redemption.

Godspeed and God’s Peace



From → Spirituality

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