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Redeeming Redemption (Samuel McPeek-Lafayette, LA)

Redemption is such a churchy word,
a language from another world,
there the rules YOU must obey or there will be hell to pay,
to get us ready for that sweet by and by---
where only the perfect can apply,
because we need Jesus only when we die.
I remember an earlier time,
during youth camp or dormitory devotions
when we used to sing the words that would assure us of God’s love, inspire us to live in that glow of God’s eternal grace. So we would sing---
I’ve Been Redeemed by the blood of the Lamb.
I’ve been Redeemed, full of the Holy Ghost I am,
All of my sins are washed away, I’ve been Redeemed.
I’ve been redeemed---set free from captivity!
I’ve been redeemed--- liberated and loved!
I’ve been redeemed---I’m free!
And yet, I must admit that I do not always feel that way.
When I was fifteen I needed  to escape from a bad situation at home,
and so I went to a boarding high school that was owned by the church to which I belonged.
While it was a time of liberation, it was also a scarry time---
I would be several hundred miles away from my family and my friends---
I would have to start all over again---making new friends and trying to fit into a new world.
So, I tried hard to be accepted by trying to be the way that I thought others wanted me to be.
And I failed. Until one night when my roommate said to me, “ if you want others to like you, stop trying to be like everyone else and just be yourself.”
It worked! Redemption! I was free!
I had a place to be and a place to belong.
I’ve been redeemed!
And then things changed. The school closed and I had to go to a different school.
But I had learned how to be free by being me.
However, the rules at my new school were different.
“It’s okay to be yourself as long as you are like everybody else!”
I cannot be free if I have to be like others want me to be---
afraid of what they may think or say about me.
When I remember those words spoken long ago: “Be yourself”,
I realize that redemption begins with me.
Redemption means that we are free to be –
who we are created to be and to be who we are
evolving to be.
I’ve been redeemed!
You’ve been redeemed!
We’ve all been redeemed in the word!


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