Ever had God hand you an illustration on a golden platter? Well a couple of weeks ago, while garage-saleing, I had just such an experience.
About four years ago, when a friend of mine was very sick, I painted a 'pottery' picture frame for her. It showed a sunrise and a Scripture reference, and while I am no great artist--seriously--I was pretty pleased with the piece. I was so happy to get to give her something I had made.
Two weeks ago, several years after she recovered from this serious illness, I stopped by a garage sale for her daughter's ballet school...and lo and behold, there was a picture frame that looked awfully familiar. And when I use the term 'awfully,' I really mean that. My stomach just sank. It had already been a rough--and early--morning for me (remember how I don't do mornings well?) and seeing that gift marked with masking tape for $2 made my heart hurt.
Now, no one should feel obligated to keep a gift I give them any longer than they want it. Really. But in that moment, I realized that I had put much of myself and my love for my friend into that piece. To see it leave her hands to be sold so cheaply made my heart hurt.
So I did what seemed my only option. I bought it.
And then, when I got home, I realized that this is exactly what God did for us. He created us with joy and gave us the gift of our lives. And it was sold right off to death, for the cheap price of a piece of fruit. But God, who is rich in mercy, refused to let that be the end to his masterpiece. In His great love, He bought us back with the blood of Christ, the only currency which buys a soul. That is what it means when we say we are redeemed. We have been bought back...to the eternal praise of His glorious grace!
That's a sweet, sweet story, one that I plan to sing for all of eternity! But you know, that's not really the end of the story. We were bought by the Father not simply to be. We were redeemed to be a pure and holy people, a people eager to do His will, a people to be for His praise:
For the grace of God that brings salvation has appeared to all men. It teaches us to say "No" to ungodliness and worldly passions, and to live self-controlled, upright and godly lives in this present age, while we wait for the blessed hope—the glorious appearing of our great God and Savior, Jesus Christ, who gave himself for us to redeem us from all wickedness and to purify for himself a people that are his very own, eager to do what is good. --Titus 2:11-14
Redeemed for a purpose! The story God writes for each life is beautiful and never aimless. These are purposes worth pursuing, worth living for. So now, we are not garage sale pieces. By the blood of Christ, we are new creations!
Bought with the precious blood of Christ,
For you know that it was not with perishable things such as silver or gold that you were redeemed from the empty way of life handed down to you from your forefathers, but with the precious blood of Christ, a lamb without blemish or defect. He was chosen before the creation of the world, but was revealed in these last times for your sake. Through him you believe in God, who raised him from the dead and glorified him, and so your faith and hope are in God. Now that you have purified yourselves by obeying the truth so that you have sincere love for your brothers, love one another deeply, from the heart. --I Peter 1:18-22