On occasion, I have had someone ask me if I have been saved. My answer typically has been “That depends on what you mean.”
Most often, these people have been referring to a particular type of experience involving their understanding of Jesus Christ. For me, being saved means being lifted out of the pit. This for me is the meaning of redemption.
This type of redemptive experience typically happens only after we have been broken. Our egos have to be silenced and usually it takes utter failure to do that. It is what the folks of AA refer to as “hitting bottom” and what others mean by brokenness — that place where we feel not only out of control but having no idea how to get back under control. For many of us, redemption involves liberation from addiction. To paraphrase Richard Rohr, we discover our soul amidst redemption.
Being redeemed for most of us is not a simple experience. Usually it comes on the heels of suffering and near-despair. That journey to redemption is beautifully captured symbolically in that great spiritual film The Shawshank Redemption where Tim Robbins’ character escapes from a prison only after crawling through a mile of sewage and shit! Those of us who have been redeemed as discussed here understand how that character feels as he allows the rain to wash him clean.
Redemption, too, is the discovery of power. Real power! The type of power found in our gifts. It is hard to be unredeemd and yet in touch with one’s gifts. This, I think, is what Jesus was talking about when he cautioned us not to keep our light hidden under a bushel basket. Taking the basket off of our inner light and letting it shine is another way of understanding redemption.
Redemptive experiences are fragile and in need of ongoing nurturance. In my own instance, I am aware that I am only one drink away from falling back down into the pit. Thus, I need to nurture myself spiritually and express my gifts to the best of my ability. In this way I maintain redemption in my life.
Reflection: 1. Have you been saved? If so, how? What do you do to nurture that experience?
Viewing: Here is the escape scene from Shawshank Redemption. How great it is to be washed clean! http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=SheaMMd8H5g