Every person needs redemption — certainly in the ultimate Christian sense — but often at other points along the way in the journey of life.
This need is manifest in a million forms and situations, some more critical in the grand scheme of things than others. All are significant to people who need redemption and to people who care about them.
Circumstances and personal failures have a way of pulling us down. A son or daughter may see that struggle in a parent’s life, or a parent in the life of precious offspring. Quite often, the result of such downward spirals, some of which catch us off guard and others we see coming from a mile away, is a fracture in relationships that are the most critical to the people involved.
Sometimes parents experience anxiety and pain because of the habits or decisions of children who seem unable to take on an appropriate level of responsibility as adolescents, or worse, as young adults. They remain dependent at times in life when they should be growing into independence.
Some fritter away the opportunity for an education, sometimes made available for them at great cost (increasingly so!). Others forsake family values and even find themselves on the wrong side of the law.
If we have not had such experiences ourselves, most of us know people and families who have gone through such trials.
It is a joy when a person experiences a fresh commitment to reverse course — “repent” is the biblical word we use to describe such an about-face. Sometimes it is as if a darkened light finally comes on and seems to shine more brightly than we remembered. A family member takes a new job and exhibits a new enthusiasm and zeal in the process, or she begins to take the responsibility of employment even more seriously. Sometimes it happens when a poor student — or perhaps a poorly motivated one — suddenly catches fire in his desire and effort to learn.
When I was growing up, a great-uncle whose family lived in the same neighborhood as our family was incarcerated. An altercation in our small town resulted in the death of another man, and my great-uncle was convicted in his death. He was released from prison after serving several years.
This man’s actions and incarceration created a hardship for my great-aunt and two second cousins, though they rarely referenced their husband and father while he was incarcerated.
A friend shared an experience the other day that involved a son who caused his parents considerable grief as he was growing up. He made some poor choices as an adolescent and young adult. They culminated with his arrest and incarceration. He remains incarcerated.
My friend and her husband have been hurt particularly in recent years as their son for the most part rejected them and their influence in his life. But their relationship began inproving. Their son increasingly became more responsive to them. He has started to demonstrate his own desire to do an about-face in living his life.
Though a prisoner, he has begun to redeem the time he is doing as an inmate. A recent visit even gave him a chance to communicate to his mother and father that he appreciated them and loved them as his parents and encouragers.
When a burden is lifted in a person’s life, it is noticeable. I believe this has been true of my friend and her husband. Many will be rewarded for their patience in this life and in heaven. And many will be parents who just kept their hearts open and kept praying, effectively giving hope a chance.
Such stories are never over until they are over, of course. We all are humans. But don’t you like it when you see hope blossom in the life of a person and a family that has seen too much discouragement? I rejoice with these parents and their son.