Until I got to the part about aching for what we could be. Every redemption story seems to have a long ache. Now I realize why I don't read much fiction. I have a low tolerance for the ache! I MUST get to the fulfilled longing. I am utterly worthless for anything until I get there. (Just ask my family what I accomplished while reading all 468 pages of Redeeming Love over the course of a few days.)
I realized I couldn't write about redemption without allowing a little time for the ache to sink in. It is the key element. Humanity's age old question about the reason for suffering is so often answered in the ache. And then the fulfillment. The ache simply takes time to accomplish its purpose.
Just what is the ache?
I've been greatly helped in my understanding of redemption by Gordon Fee and Douglas Stuart, authors of How to Read the Bible Book by Book. In the introduction, they point out that understanding scripture depends on reading each individual book in relation to the whole, all of which is God's story. A story, according to Fee and Stuart, told in four parts: creation, the fall, redemption, and consummation.
We love the idea of redemption, but there would be no redemption if we didn't need it. The beginning of redemption is to see our need. And to become desperate enough to seek help. Unfortunately, we don't love the idea of needing redemption. But that doesn't change the reality.
I like the way Fee and Stuart describe the impact of the Fall, beginning with the account of Adam and Eve in Genesis 3, and repeated throughout scripture, on pp. 15-16:
"They chose godlikeness over against mere creatureliness, with its dependent status. They chose independence from the Creator. But we were not intended to live so, and the result was a fall--a colossal and tragic fall."
"The calamity of our fallenness is threefold: First, we lost our vision of God with regard to his nature and character. Guilty and hostile ourselves, we projected that guilt and hostility onto God. God is to blame. (...) Second, the fall caused us to distort--and blur--the divine image in ourselves. Instead of being loving, generous, self-giving, thoughtful, merciful--as God is--we became miserly, selfish, unloving, unforgiving, spiteful. (...) The third consequence of the Fall was our loss of the divine presence, and with that our relationship--fellowship--with God. Under the tyranny of our sin, we found ourselves unwilling and unable to come to the living God for life and restoration. And in turn we passed on our brokenness in the form of every kind of broken relationship with one another."
And so we ache.
"...for all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God..." Romans 3:23