Saturday, November 18, 2017

Redemption Comes Crashing

This year, Heather and I participated in a retreat where, at one point, we were challenged to consider the struggles, hurts and pains from our past and consider how God has redeemed them.

Sounds like a pretty simple proposition framed around a large supposition.  Mainly, that God truly does redeem the hard things that happen to us.

As it turns out, I worked through the exercise and discovered that most of the heartache and pain I had been through, when looked at through this lens, really had been redeemed.  The exercise asked us to list out the ways specifically, which I did, except for one.

One.  Even after a decade.  Still doesn't make sense.  I don't get it.  I can't see anything good that came out of it.

And that was the battle with cancer that a young man in our church in Ancona lost.  Massimiliano's death does not make sense.  It doesn't fit.

Just weeks after that retreat, we found ourselves at dinner with Jim & Cindy Davis, themselves battling her cancer, battling the same questions: Why?  How long?  What is God doing?

I shared honestly with them about the redemption exercise and how I struggled to understand Massi's death and how walking alongside them through Cindy's disease scared me.  I didn't want it to happen again.

And it did.

And I don't.

Piles and piles.  Stacks and stacks.  Boxes.  Containers.  Tubes of paints.  Markers and pens.  Pencils and scissors.  Bags of feathers.  Totes full of stencils and tools I've never seen before.  An easel.  Walk into my office today and you will see this:

It's a mess.  A beautiful, haunting mess.

Last week we hosted Angela Foster with Rapha House for lunch in our office.  Our staff heard firsthand about what this amazing organization is doing to heal and restore victims of sexual trafficking around the world.  At the end of the presentation, at hearing that one of the things they do is teach art to these girls and young ladies, Jim asked if they could use Cindy's supplies.

Know this: Jim dreamed of seeing his beautiful Cindy using these tools in a studio of her own.

He longed for a day when things would slow down, settle down and she could paint and draw and craft to her heart's content.

He knew there were projects unfinished, sketchbooks half filled, images partly formed and shaped.

And for whatever reason, God said, "no."

And in a blind act of heroic courage, Jim offered these tools and supplies as a humble gift.  And Angela said she would take as many suitcases as it would take to get these supplies into the hands of these rescued little girls who are being restored.  Whose stories are being redeemed.

And as much as I don't want it to, it begins to make some sense.

It's strange.

Months before Cindy's death, I had approached her and commissioned a painting for our office.  I told her I wanted it to be something bold and vibrant.  Something that captured the heart of our company's vision:

Hodell is here to be a positive, transformative presence, to bring light into darkness and to provide the best solution to every window covering project.

And I thought, bitterly, that I never got the painting I commissioned.

I stand corrected.

I have this bold, vibrant vision of rescued little girls, holding the very tools that Cindy used to breathe life onto page and canvas, finishing her job.

Maybe redemption comes in waves.

It ebbs and flows.

One day it starts to make sense.  The next, it doesn't.

Maybe I begin to see it clearly here, but Jim just can't.  Not yet.

And the waves continue crashing.

His hand continues leading,
writing a story of redemption through the tears and on the hearts of his children.

Monday, November 13, 2017

A Prayer for the Trafficked

Floundering in fear, shackled in shame’s chains,
Bruises borne on beloved bodies, borne heavy on hearts.
Deepest, darkest despair.
Despondent, drugged, desperate.

Hope is hopeless and ransom a distant dream.
Strength squandered,
Names nothing,
Tender trust doused.

Faces fractured, blurred in blood.
Marred masks ghastly glued.
Freedom fleeting,
Barely breathing.

But, no.


Hope is coming,
Rescue rising,
Longing for life,
Dazzling light dashing darkness.

Chains change hands.
Smiles spread across scarred lips.
Clean, cleansing comfort;
Strong, safe embrace.

Arm in arm against harm and alarm,
Bring the battle!
Loose the light,
For those forgotten and trapped just beyond sight.

Like survivors rising after a storm,
Huddled and shivering and longing for warm.
We open our hands and our hearts and our homes
So they’ll find new life in the arms of the Lord.