Kia ora everyone. Rob here.
I’ve been having a lot of late nights in the last week. Commonwealth Games fever has caught hold, and it’s always a joy to watch courage, talent and perseverance in action. What fascinates me about sport, isn’t so much the achievements, but the story behind the achievements. In the Commonwealth Games events for para-athletes (athletes with disabilities of various kinds) have recently been integrated into the main event. They’re all athletes together. So let me tell you about Sophie Pascoe. Sophie is a renowned Paralympian who has achieved great success in swimming. Gold medals, world records, the lot. She was also named as the flagbearer for the New Zealand Commonwealth Games team. It’s a tremendous honour and an inspired choice. But I can’t stop thinking about her dad.
When Sophie was just 2 years old she got caught up in the blades of the ride-on lawnmower her dad was operating. She lost one leg below the knee with severe scarring on the other. It’s an accident that her dad has had to live with his whole life. Her story could have gone two ways. She could have grown up jealous of her friends and resentful of her father. That wouldn’t have been a surprise. Or she takes heart and lives a life of courage. She chose the latter. Now, I’m sure her dad was immensely proud of Sophie for all that she’s done and the person she’s become. Of course. Nearly every dad would be. But to see her validated and honoured by her able-bodied peers who recognise in Sophie an example of character and leadership that they would like to follow is something else. It means that Sophie has become the person she is, not despite her accident, but because of her accident. That is called redemption. The action that could have destroyed her is actually a source of strength and life.
So, what are you telling yourself about your story? Where is there a need for redemption? Christ is our great redeemer. That is, he is the one who rewrites our stories. He is the author and perfecter of our faith. As we give our story over to his story, our story becomes one worth living. It gets woven into the narrative of God’s kingdom, without the lies, the accusations, the diminishment and the fear hanging over us. Imagine that! In God’s story there is release from our guilt, freedom from our shame and healing for our brokenness. As we give our story over to God then we can experience those things more and more, until we step in to the full and final redemption at the renewal of all things.
But we need to keep giving our story over to God and let go of the compulsion we have to write our own endings. The other issue we have in our story is, who is the hero? You see, not only is Jesus the author and perfecter of our faith he is also the hero who defeats the enemy and rescues us from his clutches. He’s the one who offers true love and true hope. He’s the one to trust. We are not the heroes of our story but we are friends and allies of the hero. We come to take on his qualities and learn to speak in his name. We too learn to defeat the enemy and push back his advances. And as we do, we reflect the glory of our hero, Jesus, and become active participants and partners in our redemption story.
As Elrond said to Aragorn in the movie version of Lord of the Rings:
Put aside the ranger; become who were born to be!
Trust the hero and give your story over to the true author and may grace and peace be yours.