Second chances at redemption

By Jessica Brodie

My daughters’ room is a disaster. Part of it is the configuration—two twin beds in a small room shared by two preteens—but part of it is because they can be, well, slobs.

I’m talking bathroom towels on the floor, dirty clothes left in the very spot they chose to change, scraps of paper from discarded art projects balled up and chucked not in the trashcan but beside, under, and behind the bed.

And their knickknacks. Everywhere. Trophies from dance class next to thank-you notes from teachers, scratched-up figurines and miniature collectibles. Oh, and the books! I love books like nobody’s business, but there are books on the bed, on the floor, on the nightstand, on the dresser, on the chair, in the closet… Let’s just say no matter how many times I ask them to clean it, their room is trashed. The last time I walked in there to kiss them goodnight, I cut my foot.

Finally I’d had enough. We saved up some money and ordered a full-over-full bunk bed, dragged everything out of the room, and decided to start over.

I’m not kidding that I think I heard angels singing when the last bit of clutter hit the hallway, I cracked the blinds wide open, and ran the vacuum. I could even breathe better without all the junk in the way! It was glorious!

We’re still in the midst of reassembling things. My sweet hubby is upstairs laying out the approximately eight trillion bunk bed pieces as I take a break to write this, and then we’re all going to put it together.

But we already feel better. The old is gone, the junk is out, the clutter has been cleared, and we’re ready for a fresh start.

I can’t help but think of one of my favorite Bible verses as I reflect on all this. So many times, we—imperfect, very human sinners that we are—get so bogged down by the bad stuff we’ve done over the course of our lives. Our past mistakes feel like scars everyone can see, or raw wounds we just want to hide but can’t seem to escape. We feel unworthy of redemption and the new life we are promised in Christ. Many times we even find ourselves running from God’s love and generous grace because we can’t begin to understand why He’d ever want to give us a second—or a fourth, or a twentieth—chance. Or we think we did things so atrocious we’re beyond that love and grace.

The apostle Paul knew a thing about leaving the sins of the past behind to embrace new life in Christ. Paul had been awful before he knew Jesus. He’d been responsible for death, torture, persecution, imprisonment and much more. He used his status as an intelligent, scholarly Jew to do horrible things in the name of God.

One day he saw the proverbial light when Jesus Himself spoke to Paul on the road to Damascus, and Paul did an about-face. He changed his heart and his life and gave everything over to Jesus.

That fresh start is something everyone can have, Paul wrote to others, encouraging them to embrace this gift and use it to help others know Christ, too.

“If anyone is in Christ, that person is part of the new creation. The old things have gone away, and look, new things have arrived!” he wrote in 2 Corinthians 5:17 (CEB).

We are a new creation in Christ.

I hope my daughters like their fresh new room and treat it with gratitude and respect. I hope it truly does become a place that feels peaceful and homey for them, not some giant trashcan.

But more importantly, I hope they know that no matter what, whether it’s a room or their walk in faith, they can always start over again. Nothing is ever too far gone.

Not even our souls. We can be brand-new in Christ.

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