Red Vineyard by Van Gogh
I find rootedness when I read the book of Psalms. I read one every day and when I come to the last, I start over. It's the only book of the Bible that I do that with, where it is a constant in my every day life. There is such a richness and depth to the Psalms that they are continually opening up new meanings and further expands my understanding of God and my relationship to Him.
This morning, as I had my cup of coffee (I agree with Dorothy Day, who commented, "My strength returns to me with my cup of coffee and the reading of the psalms."), I opened the book of Psalms to 130. What struck me as I read this Psalm, which I have read and reread more times than I can remember, the seventh verse stood out to me as I came across these words, "For with the Lord there is steadfast love, and with him is plentiful redemption." It was the word plentiful that grabbed me and my mind immediately pictured a bountiful harvest. I could envision workers in the fields gathering the crops and how their baskets were overflowing.
In Hebrew the word for plentiful is nedabah, which means freely, willingly. This is connected to a voluntary and freewill offering.
God's redemption is plentiful. It's freely given. It is abundant, generous, and bountiful.
What a glorious image to have of redemption.
The Hebrew word for redemption is gaal. This is to redeem or to act as kinsman, as seen with Boaz in the story of Ruth. In biblical times, one could redeem a person from bondage or a field (as noted in Leviticus or, again, in the book of Ruth). Plentiful means that there are many and various ways that God can deliver us, according to His compassion and loving kindness. All of this is a gracious act on His part and not our own. I know, from my own life, how there have been so many times when it was God, like the Father in the parable of the prodigal, who ran to me. He pursued me even when I did not seek Him or even when I tried to flee from His loving kindness. That's why the Psalmist writes, " . . . even if I make my bed in the depths, You are there" (139:8). When I abandoned God, He, thankfully and mercifully, did not abandon me.
Yet in our daily lives, how many of us lose sight of this plentiful redemption? I do. Frequently. I forget to reframe my perspective that I'm living in a world redefined by Christ's magnificent redemption of it. By his entering our history, he completely changed our theology in a way that it should impact both our biography and how we see our geography.
Consider this, despite God's sovereignty, He offered, not imposed, redemption. He offered salvation and not domination. By Christ remaining on the cross, he offered us a messiah and not a dictator (as there would be no choice if he had have gotten down). Unlike Caesar, King Herod and even Caiaphas, Jesus was not a ruler by oppression and imposition, but through transformation and recreation. In him and by him all things are made new.
The Bible begins with creation but its focus quickly shifts entirely to redemption and salvation. As Eugene Peterson writes of God's redemptive power in parting the Red Sea, "At the very outset, we are meant to understand that salvation is not limited by conditions, by impossibilities, by conventions." Certainly incarnation defies conventions. God leaves kairos (infinity or His time) and enters chronos (our time). Through incarnation (the Word becomes flesh) comes resurrection and redemption. It defies our conditions and conventions that a kinsman redeemer does so through suffering and the cross. Yet once we grasp the comprehensiveness of this act, we begin to see all of our live through a cruciform lens. For the Christian, ever day is Easter. We should go about our days in the wonder of resurrection and transformation.
Over and over again, and in how many ways and over how many times, does the Creator of the universe come to us to redeem us from whatever we have chosen over Him? From stagnation to a life lived more abundantly because it's lived in Him.
Even when I have not been loving, He still loves me because He is love. As Ephesians 1:7 reminds us, "In Him we have redemption through His blood, the forgiveness of our trespasses, according to the riches of His grace." Once again "riches of His grace" or "plentiful redemption." We are reminded again and again and again throughout scripture that it is His love, His grace, His redemption that saves us. And we don't just experience that once, but throughout our lives. Is it any wonder this is called the gospel or good news?
The Harvest by Camille Pissarro