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Rescued and Purchased and Forgiven

“For He has rescued us from the kingdom of darkness, and transferred us into the kingdom of His dear Son, who purchased our freedom and forgave our sins.”
– Colossians 1.13

I read this verse over and over again in preparation for living this day.

I read them slowly and out loud, I read them silently and with emphasis on different words, I read them until they gained their own rhythm, a cadence tapping against the inside of my heart and on the palms of my hands.

And over and over each time, I found myself landing in the same places, stuck on the same words: rescued. purchased. forgave.

Scripture is funny that way, the breathing thing that it is. The words move and shift shape and sink into different corners of your mind every time.


Jesus rescued. Jesus purchased. Jesus forgave.
I am rescued. I am purchased. I am forgiven.

It matters too, I think, the simple order of these words in this Spirit-penned letter, the order of events that creates a traceable path from darkness to light. The funny thing is, the first two words are powerful, full of action and drama – Jesus, desperate Lover of the Church diving in after His Bride to rescue us from our own crumpling selves, to purchase our freedom at an impossible price. How exciting; how romantic.

But then that third word kept chiming in, refusing to be left out.

Jesus forgave. Jesus forgives. Jesus will forgive.
I was forgiven. I am forgiven. I will be forgiven.

It struck me at first because it lacked that panache. It seemed a step back from the grand and sweeping gestures. It was in the wrong place, I thought; we swell upward, heavenward, bigger and bolder, we don’t kill the buzz.

But it continued to ring in my heart and echo in my ear, to grow roots and gain weight. Jesus rescued me from the kingdom of darkness when He came to our world, walked our world. And Jesus certainly purchased my freedom when He left our world bled bone-dry, transaction complete.

But – oh, my – the forgiveness of my sins…that verb is still in action, for today, already, and for tomorrow, and for always and for every single moment that needs it.

Jesus didn’t just come to redeem us that one time so many ages ago. His redeeming work continues even now, even as I swear at bad drivers and yell at my kids and skip church and wake up early to sit and steep in Scripture and instead lose three straight games of Trivia Crack.

I’m pretty decent at thinking less of this miraculous forgiveness of my sins, cheerfully forgetting how Jesus’ whole rescue mission hung on my ability to turn from Him with such eagerness and consistency. I am genuinely unable – completely lacking the mind space – to GET what it means to be divinely pardoned. So I tack on that forgiveness thing as an afterthought. I am rescued! I’ve been purchased! Oh, right, and forgiven too and junk.

Maybe I shouldn’t look so closely at this general blanket sinfulness of mankind I willingly and rightfully claim, the embedded nature from which we honestly can’t get away, even as the forgiven and found. Maybe, when I think of Jesus’ forgiveness, I should look at the sins that find me now, right where I am now, the frustration, the impatience, the pettiness, the distrust and distance and reckless words and selfish acts. These sins that forget the redemptive work of Christ, the smallness that takes for granted the cost of such freedom.

How quietly He challenges me. How unassuming these whispered conversations humming in my gut, all wrapped neat and tight around three simple words.

Rescued. Purchased. Forgiven. 

Beloved, you have been rescued from the kingdom of darkness, swiftly stolen from the greedy clutches of the things that would destroy you.

Your freedom has been purchased by the smitten Christ, the cost never bartered or second-guessed but paid.in.full.

Your sins have been forgiven, are being forgiven, will forever and always and altogether be forgiven, and maybe that’s the most powerful thing of all.


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Ashes and Oil

“For dust you are, and to dust you will return.” -Genesis 3.19

I would like to be able to say I wholeheartedly believe God makes it easy to find Him. That it isn’t even so much a finding of Him as it is simply a seeing Him. But if actions > words, then that wouldn’t be very honest of me to say at all.

Don’t get me wrong; my heart and my brain and my experience point to a God who is very near. I trust and I know and I write about a God who is very good. But all of those things don’t seem to hold much weight when I let myself get so caught up and so dragged down by the ugliness and brokenness tunneling through our world.

I read the terrible headlines, and then I read the terrifying articles, and then I read the ignorant comments, and I say under my breath, “My God,” because I can’t find or see Him very clearly at all, and maybe a whisper wrenched from all of these collective broken hearts will invoke His interference.

(Let’s all agree to be better Christians by not reading the comments, I guess?)

And I am reminded of another heart-heavy plea:

“Eli, Eli, lema sabachthani?”
(My God, my God, why have you forsaken me?)

*     *     *

I’ve been struggling for the past several weeks how to approach Lent this year, how to dig deeper without losing sight of the world around me. Lent has been my favorite season of faith for many years now (super weird, I know), and I usually have lots of thoughts on it, on how to make it more meaningful for myself. It centers me, it connects me with believers around me and believers who have gone before me. It draws me in and all the way back to the beginning of the Christian church whose remembrance of what happened was so pivotal, so profound.

I love the ancient rituals, the fasting and the prayer, the timeless texts and the scent of ashes and oil. I love the singular focus, just on Jesus, for a little while anyway, the Church hungry for and aware of His life story.

It’s a season of paradox. A season of deprivation in order to steep in God’s divine extravagance. A time of personal sacrifice in order to reorient ourselves on Jesus’ ultimate sacrifice that ushers in life abundant. A season of particular awareness of the God who is always present anyway, calling our attention to the beauty and to the broken, that we may experience Him in life, in death, in every crack and crevice in between.

It is a season when we wear our ashes on our foreheads, our hearts on our sleeves, willing more so to not just acknowledge, but to grieve our own depravity, our own desperate need for a Savior.

*     *     *

I’m still not sure, even as I write this, even as the sun comes up on Ash Wednesday, how I am going to approach Lent this year. I haven’t been certain of any words, any generous insights to this season that means so much, that speaks so deeply.

Even as I write this, I wonder if this year I need to run out of the words. Maybe — and I’m realizing this in REAL TIME — maybe I need to listen more this season. Maybe this season of Lent is asking for my silence.

Maybe I won’t talk so much. I won’t pray so loudly, but sit in silence and let Him speak. Maybe I will hear Him more clearly, hear your hearts more closely.

This season, I will press my ear to the dusty road and listen for the footsteps of Jesus as He turns toward Jerusalem. This year, I will listen to His heart and His words as He cries out for this earth, blood tears staining His robes. I will close my eyes and tilt my head and listen. This year, maybe I will hear the heartbeat of God as Jesus moves closer and closer to the cross, to His surrender, to our redemption.

If you press your cheek against His chest, you can listen with me.

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