While I was away in Vancouver this past week, eating all the things and being surprised by a visit from my sister and brother-in-law, and drinking all the [Matchstick YVR] coffee, I had the opportunity to finish my 3rd book for this year: All The Pretty Things by Edie Wadsworth.
It’s a memoir full of the best kind of redemptive beauty as she recounts being a child of an alcoholic dad and eventually pushing herself to become a successful doctor – though not without several missteps and losses along the way. But one line in the book called my name in particular.
Edie is recounting how her son Taylor reminds her of her Daddy who is now gone and she says, “I looked at Taylor and I saw Daddy, evidence of to me of how God is always redeeming every little thing.”
See, in church I learned that God is definitely in the business of redemption – that there is no sin so vast that we could ever be separate from His unconditional love, and that nothing is every lost in God’s economy – that kind of thing. But it sort of led me to believe that where we make a mistake or have a regret, God kind of smooshes it back into the bigger picture.
If you’ve ever made a watercolour painting before you might understand what I mean.
In watercolour, if you make an error, it’s pretty easy to add some water on top of what you’ve painted and swirl it into the rest of the image you’re working on. But I don’t think the ease of watercolour is the best way to think of how God works. See, God is busy redeeming every little thing because He wants his children to be the whole-est kind of whole – not stormy, wild abstracts, but detailed, history-laden, mature, grounded creatures.
Paul gets on a roll with this in his letter to the Colossian church, saying:
We look at [Jesus] and see God’s original purpose in everything created. For everything, absolutely everything, above and below, visible and invisible, rank after rank after rank of angels—everything got started in him and finds its purpose in him. He was there before any of it came into existence and holds it all together right up to this moment… He was supreme in the beginning and—leading the resurrection parade—he is supreme in the end. From beginning to end he’s there, towering far above everything, everyone. So spacious is he, so roomy, that everything of God finds its proper place in him without crowding. Not only that, but all the broken and dislocated pieces of the universe—people and things, animals and atoms—get properly fixed and fit together in vibrant harmonies, all because of his death, his blood that poured down from the cross… by giving himself completely at the Cross, actually dying for you, Christ brought you over to God’s side and put your lives together, whole and holy in his presence. You don’t walk away from a gift like that! (Colossians 1:15-21).
I love the part where it says “people and things, animals and atoms” get properly fit together.
God’s care for us is not envisioned as broad brush strokes; but intimate gatherings of every single hurt, frustration, and tear in our lives back into those vibrant harmonies.
After all, it is Jesus who has put our lives together – Jesus Himself! When we trick ourselves into thinking that “everything will be okay” or “there’s something better for me anyways” I think we’re shortchanging ourselves out of the magnificent mystery of his great affection for us. I guarantee you that the way He works his redemption is beyond our scope, accomplishing the kind of detail we never thought possible.
In fact, I can recount something that happened to me just this past Christmas which I couldn’t quite put words to but which captures this kind of thing. M and I hosted the youth group at our church in our home for a Christmas dinner. It was chaotic and beautiful and reminded me SO much of these beautiful Christmas meals we used to host when I was part of a group home in Vancouver (a role which I sometimes miss dearly) – just all kinds of youth hanging over banisters, grabbing plates of food and decorating cards together – and this year’s Christmas party was just the best gift. It just seemed too perfect. After many years of missing this sacred chaos, I got to taste some of it in my own home in a new unique way.
There are definitely a multitude of ways that God’s redemptive activity expresses itself in my life daily – especially as I make a new home in Montréal.
Perhaps we content ourselves too often, believing that God cares for those little sparrows we often hear about, but neglecting to hold on to the love of God who cares that we miss that child, or regret the way we left that job, or wish that things might have gone differently.