Wednesday, February 11, 2009

Redemption Timing

"Perhaps this is the reason he was separated from you for a while, so that you might have him back forever, no longer a slave but more than a slave, a beloved brother..."
(Philemon 1:15-16)

Interesting scenario we've got here: Onesimus was a servant of Philemon's... who, for whatever reason, ran away from his master. Sometime later, Onesimus hooked up with Paul - the guy who originally helped shepherd/disciple Philemon. The two of them hit it off and Onesimus became quite a blessing to Paul while in prison.

Now Paul is sending Onesimus back to his master... but with a request: that Philemon might officially release this run-away slave into Paul's full service. It's a bold request, undoubtedly due to the fact that Philemon was probably still quite upset at Onesimus (and put out by his abandonment). Nevertheless, Paul has a unique perspective on it. "Perhaps this is the reason he was separated from you for a while" so that the two of them might now have the kind of relationship they NEVER had before - one of "beloved brotherhood."

I just finished reading THE SHACK. What a powerful book! SO many wonderful lessons from scripture are illuminated through that profound story. One of which, I felt, was trying to look at a difficult situation from God's perspective (rather than our limited one). There are so many things we can't see or know about what's happening now. And God can cause any seemingly bad situation to work for good! It doesn't mean God causes the "bad" to happen, but anything can be redeemed.

I believe that's what Paul was alluding to. God could redeem Onesimus' disobedience and disertion... if only Philemon would forgive him, welcome him back, and then release him to Paul.

Might there be something you need God's redemption for?

PRAYER: I often have no clue about why things happen the way they do, Lord. It's not really necessary for me to know all the time, either. Help me to trust that indeed you work all things for GOOD! Amen.

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