A couple of years ago, my wife was talking with some female students at camp or some other event, and the issue of boys, sex, and dating came up. As the girls were talking, the idea of setting physical boundaries in a dating relationship was discussed. As the conversation continued and delved deeper, one of the girls talked about it being difficult to “go back”. What she meant was when you go a certain distance in a relationship with a boy (in this case it was losing her virginity), it is difficult to “go back”, not only with the boy you are dating, but with all relationships from that moment forward. To put it bluntly, every dating relationship had to end in sexual intercourse.
When my wife was reflecting on her conversation with the girls (whom only my wife knows the names), she and I could not help but be saddened that these girls lived in a world in which you can’t “go back”. It feels like we have had countless conversations of a similar perspective, just the names and dates changed: You can’t start over. Redemption and restoration are not possible.
Maybe that’s why Jesus was so adamant to hang out and interact with the people he did while living on earth. Maybe he was trying tell us something. Maybe he was telling us how life really works.
How many of us grow up thinking that God is the forgiver of our sins, but the reality with which we live and conduct our lives seems to convey that we are beyond redemption? Beyond restoration?
There’s a story in Luke 7:36-50 in which Jesus is dining with at a Pharisee’s house. In the story, it says that during dinner, “a woman from the city, who was a sinner” entered the house. It doesn’t say how she got in, or if she snuck in. All we know about this woman is that she is nameless, and she is a sinner.
Imagine if that was you. Imagine being this woman. When your story is told, the only way people identify you is not by your name, but by the decisions you have made or by events that have happened to you.
She is the one who “puts out”.
He is the guy who is a womanizer.
She has an eating disorder.
He is addicted to drugs (or alcohol), and is completely out of control at parties.
She had an abortion.
He will stop at nothing to destroy others to build himself up.
And the “he/she” lists keep going and going and going. “Nameless sinners” who can’t “go back” and therefore have no hope of redemption and restoration.
Recently, I just finished a favorite book of mine called Abba’s Child by Brennan Manning. In it, he cites a quote from a famous communist philosopher named Roger Garaudy. Garaudy once remarked about Jesus,
“I do not know much about this man, but I do know that his whole life conveys this one message: anyone at any time can start a new future.”
Did you catch that last part?
“Anyone at any time can start a new future.”
The life and message of Jesus was to tell us what God is like; God is about new futures. The woman in the story we read earlier was told to “go in peace”. That word peace actually means “completeness”. Jesus was telling her that she can go live life from a sense of completeness, rather than a place of brokenness. She can start a new future. There are countless stories in which Jesus is constantly inviting people into a new reality, “Anyone at any time can start a new future.”
What in your life do you feel like is “beyond redemption”? Where do you believe restoration is not possible? Do you wish you could “go back” and change something from your past?
Maybe it’s a relationship that was broken intentionally (or unintentionally). Or maybe you are living with the guilt or shame from a choice you made. Maybe you are grieving over lost opportunities in your life. Or you feel the crushing burden of an “unforgivable” sin you committed or are living in. Maybe you have a damaged or destroyed reputation that you want to get rid of. Whatever is going on in your life: anyone at any time can start a new future.
YOU at this moment can start a new future!!
**NOTE: If you don’t have someone you can talk to, let me encourage you to find a trust friend or mentor who can speak the truth of Jesus Christ into your life and his message of hope, redemption, and restoration. May these words of hope echo throughout your soul: anyone at any time can start a new future.