Encouragement, JustTalk, My Thoughts, relationships, testimonies

THE Most Powerful Redemption Story Ever

My family has been going through the “Avatar: The Last Airbender” series for family night. It’s been really fun, but more than that–it’s been very enlightening. And I’m not talking eastern mysticism. I mean truth. We recently finished the series, and this article is about a specific scene on the very last disc, so–I’ll only say this once–SPOILER ALERT!!!

 

Zuko was an amazing character. He was really childish at first. I didn’t like him–he didn’t even look cool with that ridiculous ponytail making his scar stick out like a sore thumb. But as the series went on, I grew to appreciate his pain and struggle, because it was relatable. He was meant to represent the very essence of the struggle between light and darkness, between good and evil. And, honestly, I think the writer(s) did a pretty good job with that. There’s not always an easy answer or a clear path. And we all have scars from past wounds. Usually from someone with our last name….The madness and mental instability, the pain and struggle–that’s relateable. Now, this story was made for children, so we can scream out the obvious right answer from the sidelines (like he can really hear us) and think of him as an idiot for choosing darkness–AGAIN. But, when we take a look at our own lives, when it is us on stage with everyone else on the sidelines, we realize that it’s not so easy to see the big picture. All we can see is what’s right in front of us. Everything else gets lost in the moment. We choose the dark far more often than Zuko, honestly. We are far more dual than we care to admit….

 

I have acted in plays before. I can tell you that there’s this funny feeling I get when I’m up on stage. It’s like my mind goes completely blank, and it’s only because I’ve carved my lines into my mind that I can remember them at all. Everything feels kinda hazy–like I’m doing everything on-the-fly. No practice, no prep, it’s all me in my bare nakedness, just winging it and hoping I don’t ruin everything. I can sit back and laugh at that now, because I’m not standing on a stage. Or, rather, because I don’t see the stage I’m standing on. Yet aren’t I doing the same exact thing every day of my life? I’m just flailing around, trying to get my lines right, messing things up A LOT, and just hoping that, in the end, it’ll all come together and touch the audience somehow. The world is my stage, and I’m a character in this play whether I want to be or not. If you watched my life, you could sit back and yell at me from the sidelines about what an idiotic decision I’m making and how it’s so obvious I should be doing something else (and, believe me, you’d be doing that a lot), but, like Zuko, I get lost in it all and I’m just trying to make it, struggling between the darkness and the light, never really understanding which one is going to satisfy me, even though the answer is obvious. In the end, though, like Zuko, I choose the light. But not before a lot of scars are made and a lot of people are hurt….

 

Despite Zuko’s folly, I grew to love him as a character. Sure, he WAS pretty childish, but remember he was still basically a child. He was terribly sorry for all he had done, but there was nothing he could do to make it right. His suffering would not make it right. Good works would not make it right. Correct philosophy could not fix the damage. What does one do when they kneel before the one they’ve hurt and there is nothing–NOTHING–they can do to fix it?

 

The answer is only that mercy is necessary. Because vengeance, violence, suffering–these things will not heal. They will only worsen the pain. So, the answer is obvious. You are at the victim’s mercy. Literally. You must be at their mercy. They have to let go of the past and grow something new in its place….

 

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And that moment, when Zuko knelt before his uncle, tears streaming down his face, begging Iroh to forgive him for all his foolishness–that moment as Iroh clutched Zuko tightly in his arms, tears streaming down his own face–that moment when Zuko was unworthy but found grace–it struck a chord with me. It resonated with my own heart. Because, there I was, kneeling before the One I had betrayed, the One who had loved me, cherished me, grown me, cared for me–I was kneeling before the One whom I had hurt the most, tears streaming down my face, begging for forgiveness–and I found grace. I could have wept. The moment was moving for me. It touched me deeply. This was no children’s tale. It is the story of every prodigal son who ever knelt before their Father figure and found grace. Countless lives, innumerable souls, all finding the same grace He extends freely to everyone who will take it. Because, like Uncle Iroh with Zuko, God loves us deeply and only wants what is best for us. He sits there by our side while we drive around madly on a wild goose chase, going a 100 miles an hour in the wrong direction, and He sighs, trying to steer us the other way. But we don’t listen. He stays with us as, time after time, we fail in our endeavors to bring satisfaction to our souls and honour to our name, and He tries to tell us the answer. But we don’t listen. He leaves us in silence as we fume and rage, trying to find our own way. He weeps with our weeping, rejoices for our small gains, and ever watches, heavily, as we choose darkness over and over again, betraying Him with our every step….And, after we have run our last mile, worn out all our efforts, and come to our wits’ end, He whispers to us softly the hard truth. It is then that the paths diverge….

 

Some of us, as Zuko did, will ultimately choose the light, and will come weeping before Him with all our shattered pieces, expecting all the well-deserved wrath to be poured out on us. But, instead, He wraps us up in His arms, weeping for our ultimate return to Him, cherishing our very being, though we’ve hurt Him more than we’ve hurt anyone else. He gives grace, and, ultimately, He will let us rule with Him in a new kingdom of prosperity and peace and love….

 

Yet others will be Azula, choosing the maddening darkness until their very last breath, and meeting the ultimate ruin of their own selves, because they would not heed the light. For all my lack of care for Azula throughout the series, in that last moment, when she is wailing and squalling like a small child, trapped and helpless, at her literal wits’ end, I had nothing but pity for her. I wanted to help her, but there was nothing left to help….

 

As for the Fire Lord, well….We know his end. His power will ultimately be taken away, to do no more harm to anyone ever again….

 

For now, I’m still on the stage. I’m still flailing and wandering. I’m still being clutched in my adoptive Father’s arms, still weeping because the pain is yet too near, the struggle yet too real. I am still often betraying Him, yet I find a neverending supply of grace. He has every right to be angry–to eliminate me–but He chooses to love and forgive me instead. And that brings healing. That brings redemption. Because of that, I am being made new. And this, my friend, is the greatest redemption story ever. 🙂

 

 

~Peeps~

 


***DISCLAIMER: Images used in this article are not mine! They are strictly the porperty of their original poster….***

 

 

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song lyrics, testimonies

Testimonies of the “Civilized” (Part 3)

I was going to suffice this series with Part 1 and 2, but as I was once again listening to music another night, I heard this song  (and one other) and thought it quaint for what we were talking about. This song is about what all of our testimonies really are: we’re just trying to make it. Yet it has some more specific insights into another part of the american culture. This is the truth of the matter: life is hard. Let us listen to what our brother Tedashi has to say–

————————————————————————————————————-

“Gotta Believe”

By: Tedashi

[Verse 1]

Folks having hard times,

Living in the world so cold.

Life dealt them cards now.

People trying hard not to fold-

Pressures their heart now,

Feels like they bout to explode!

While feeling down they asking, “Is this the life that I chose?”

It seems so unfair!

Man we just trying to survive!

But its like no one cares…

We living life just to die!

And when I come share

That Jesus cares about your life,

Their heart is hard–they disbelieve

And they filled with too much pride to cry out,

“LORD,

I surrender my all!” or cry

“LORD,

Will you answer my call?

Cause this life is not easy!

God, why I gotta be me?

It’s hard for me to trust cause when I do somebody leaves me!”

See, life without Christ is not life–it’s daydreaming

Day in and Day out,

I see people sitting, thinking, drinking tall–

Day in and Day out,

I see people sitting, thinking, drinking tall ounces,

Trying to figure out, “Why is this the way the ball bounces?”

——————–

[Hook:]

Everywhere I go, its still the same song:

Everybody getting by, trying to hold on

To a life that He gives,

Doubting who He is.

Don’t doubt! Don’t doubt!

You gotta believe!

(Repeat x2)

——————-

[Verse2]

LORD peep the hood child

Rocking Ones with an ice grill–

Folks say he should smile.

His mug’s mean cause life is!

He wants that good life–

A caddlac truck with nice rims.

And the culture says to get it–live like the thugs live!

A hustlers ambition

Since the day he was born.

I wished it was different!

Is this place really the norm?

So when I go witness,

God’s forgiveness seems foreign.

And his heart is dark–he disagrees and he’s filled with too much scorn to cry,

“LORD,

Will you take me as I am?” or cry,

“LORD,

Can you make me a new man?

Cause this life is so greasy!

God, why I gotta be me?!

Why can’t I be that dude I saw rapping on the tv?”

Questions by some who blind to the grace that freed me.

Day in and Day out,

I see people sitting, thinking, drinking tall–

Day in and Day out,

I see people sitting, thinking, drinking tall ounces,

Trying to figure out, “Why is this the way the ball bounces?”

————————

[Hook]

Everywhere I go, its still the same song;

Everybody getting by, trying to hold on

To a life that He gives,

Doubting who He is.

Don’t doubt! Don’t doubt!

You gotta believe!

(Repeat)

————————-

[Verse 3]

This world is gonn’ pass away!

So, LORD, my prayer is they get it!

You could probably come back today,

And a lot of these folks just might miss it!

Caught up in their worldly ways–

Not knowing they could change in an instance!

It just takes faith to get in this!

But it’s been replaced by religion.

So cats remain blind,

Thinking that their works just might save.

Some just stay high,

Thinking there’s no way You would take ’em,

Saying, “It’s a hard life!”

Complaining when I go witness, and

I ask them, “What if God did this so He could get your attention?

So you’d cry,

‘LORD,

I confess and believe!’

Or cry, ‘LORD,

I see it’s You that I need!’

Cause change is so hard,

And life is mean in these streets!

And it seems there is no God!

But see since Adam and Eve,

Mankind is so lost,

Confused on the path they should walk

And so…

Day in and Day out,

I see people sitting, thinking, drinking tall–

Day in and Day out,

I see people sitting, thinking, drinking tall ounces,

Trying to figure out, ‘Why is this the way the ball bounces?'”

———————————–

[Hook]

Everywhere I go, its still the same song:

Everybody getting by, trying to hold on

To a life that He gives,

Doubting who He is.

Don’t doubt! Don’t doubt!

You gotta believe!

(Repeat)

————————————————————————————————————-

★DISCLAIMER: All images used on this blog are strictly copyrights of their owners. I do not claim credit/ownership for any images used here in my blog unless stated otherwise. If I have offended anyone by posting any images on my blog, please contact me via email and I will remove specified image(s) ASAP.

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song lyrics, testimonies

Testimonies of the “Civilized” (Part 2)

I know what you might be thinking….

“Yeagh yeagh. Those are wonderful testimonies, but they didn’t give me an answer! I still can’t keep from sinning! I still stumble over pornography and lust and all manner of sins!”

….That wasn’t the only song I listened to that night. As I saught more encouragement from our dear brother KB, I stumbled too upon this one. It has been my hope and stability for so many days now….

So, after talking about the lyrics of Open Letter (Battelfield) by KB, I felt like maybe we just needed to sit back and really bask in God’s grace. See, we get so discouraged over our sins and failures. No matter how “small” or “big”, we get discouraged over sin. Now, I by no means want to belittle the seriousness of sin. However, niether do I want to diminish His amazing grace. For a long time, I didn’t understand either one of them. I felt less guilt over my sins (and often questioned if they were really sins) and certainly didn’t understand the magnitude of God’s grace. As time passed on and I truly fell in love with my God, I felt deep agony over my sin. I recognized and understood the seriousness of sin. But for so long (even until recently) I still did not understand His amazing grace. It caused an inbalance in my life. Depression accompanied me often. I wanted to be holy, but I simply couldn’t seem to keep from sinning! I was stressed and downtrodden often. It ruined me for many years. I prayed less, because I couldn’t come to God without seeing my sin. I begged for forgiveness, but I didn’t feel forgiven. (I will write more about this in a later article, Lord be willing.) This made me question, “Has God forsaken me? Am I too far gone? Has the rapture come without me?” and many doubts and fears like them. I couldn’t get free. I couldn’t escape. I couldn’t find hope.

And this, I think, is the trap many Christians are in today.

The truth is that—for His children—every sin is nailed on the cross. Agreed, sin is a seperater. And you will often experience emotional seperation from God after you sin. But do not be afraid. Confess and forsake your sin (Proverbs 28:13). You will be forgiven. Because that’s how grace works. And blessed is the man to whom the Lord won’t even count sin (Psalm 32:2; Romans 4:6&8)! That’s amazing grace! So, let’s just bask in it a moment and thank God for who He is…

——————————————————————————————-

“Hello”

By: KB

[Verse 1: KB]

What do you do when the guilt doesn’t cease the morning

After a fall? Crying, “Lord, would you send relief!”

Relief, relief!

Depression is setting in—

Constantly feeling down.

What’s this really about?

I’m recommitting the sins I feel most guilty about!

I’m weak.

Spiritually, my bones sticking out.

I want holiness, but I ain’t got the power to live it out!

That’s why I gotta preach!

Cause the gospel—it gotta hit me!

Jesus has died for my sin!

There’s no power without belief!

Believe!

[Hook: Suzy Rock]

Oh, I’m letting go of my yesterday!

Grab a hold free in your grace to live!

There’s no more guilt!

I know that I’ve been forgiven!

Hello, new mercies!

Hello every morning!

Every day I live

Is another day I know that I’ve been forgiven!

I know that I’ve been forgiven!

I know that I’ve been forgiven!

[Verse 2: KB]

After life, there’s a judge that we face.

With no Christ, then the lawyer is bringing a brief case—Guilty!

But not for those who are truly underneath the grace!

That’s making me chase—knowing my sins have been erased!

After we stray, we see no point in praying.

“I can’t go to God! I’d rather hide ‘cause he’s angry!” WHAT?!

Who told me that? The Gospel lifts me from my fall!

I have no sins to pay; Jesus has paid them all!

That’s why I preach—

Better get that Gospel to me!

You see the power indeed is available through belief!

Believe!

[Hook]

I am His!

He is mine!

Bought with the blood of Christ!

Every sin

On Him lay!

——————————————————————————————-

★DISCLAIMER: All images used on this blog are strictly copyrights of their owners. I do not claim credit/ownership for any images used here in my blog unless stated otherwise. If I have offended anyone by posting any images on my blog, please contact me via email and I will remove specified image(s) ASAP.

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