Dena Johnson MartinDena Johnson is a former single mom to three amazing kids: Blake, Cole, and Cassie and wife to her high school friend, Roy. She strives to follow Christ each day and to lead her children to do the same. She delights in taking the every day experiences of life and turning them into biblical lessons for her children. Dena's daily prayer is simple: Lord, my life is yours. Live through me. Love through me. Parent through me. Let me decrease that you might increase. Dena is the founder of Dena Johnson Ministries, a non-profit organization dedicated to helping people find beauty through the brokenness of this life. Her heart's desire is to use her own pain to point others to the power of God who redeems every hurt, every pain. You can contact Dena at Dena@denajohnson.com. You can also find her blog at Dena Johnson Ministries.
- 2017 Apr 20
Redemption: the act, process or instance of making a bad or unpleasant thing or person better or more acceptable
It’s Easter Sunday as I write this blog post. I have no idea when it will be posted to my blog, but I know my heart is full. Overwhelmed. Filled with gratitude.
All week, I’ve attempted to focus my mind on the Savior, on the amazing gift of His life given for my sins. I’ve tried to focus on the beauty of the resurrection, the promise that no death (literal or figurative) is the end of the story when we walk with God. I’ve tried to prepare my heart to celebrate the resurrection of my Savior.
Truthfully, I’ve been a miserable failure at preparing my heart. Much like Martha, I’ve been distracted by so many things. Career decisions. Issues at school. Painful anniversaries. Seizures (yes, my daughter had another one just when we had begun to think they had subsided). My mind has been everywhere except where I truly wanted it to be.
This morning, though, I stood in church surrounded by my children. On my right, with his arm around my waist lovingly pulling me close, was my boyfriend (affectionately known as my Royfriend).
There I stood, overwhelmed by the goodness of my Father. There I stood, tears stinging my eyes as I reflected on the faithfulness of my Savior. There I stood, a living portrait of God’s redeeming power.
On Easter Sunday, my sweet family was a living testimony of resurrection, of redemption, of the very work Christians around the world were celebrating.
For the first time, I fully understood the meaning of redemption.
Redemption means all things have been made new.
My ugly, painful past still exists, but I have been blessed with a brand new life. I have a beautiful new relationship with a man who truly loves me as Christ loves the church. It’s a love I have never known before. My children have a man who loves them as a father should. Just when their father was taken from this earth, God saw fit to bless them with a man who has been an incredible substitute. He will never fully replace their dad, but I promise he has supported them and been there for them in ways they had only dreamed.
We have a beautiful new future which is truly redeeming our past pain.
Redemption is a picture of Christ in our lives.
When Christ came and died on the cross in our place, taking our sin and shame upon Himself, he redeemed us, purchased us, took away the old and gave us new.
As I stood in church, I was overwhelmed with how Roy has been the portrait of Christ to me and to my children. He has pursued me relentlessly for over seven years, just as Christ pursues us relentlessly. He has fought tirelessly for my affections, just as Christ fights for our hearts. He has been faithful to me even when I rejected him repeatedly, just as Christ is faithful even when we are faithless. He has been my defender and a father to my fatherless children, just as God is the Defender of widows and Father to the fatherless.
Redemption means beauty comes from the ashes.
And it’s not just Roy. My redemption—our redemption—is so much more. As I look at so many blessings in my life, I’m overcome with emotion.
What Satan meant for evil, God has truly used for good! I never dreamed when I was walking through the darkest days of my life that divorce would become a platform from which God could get the glory, a place where I could shine brightest for Him. And yet, that’s exactly what it has become. Divorce has become the opportunity to meet and minister to so many hurting people, to share His love and His faithfulness to carry us through the pain of this life with people around the world. Every person who has been touched by my story is part of my redemption. Everyone who has ever read my blog is part of my redemption.
The joy I have in sharing my story, in using my pain to point others to the Savior is not only my passion but also one of my greatest joys. It is the purpose for my life, the beauty that has risen from the ashes of my pain.
Redemption means God repays two blessings for every pain.
Had you told me eight years ago that I would consider divorce a great blessing, I might have slapped you. But today? The blessings abound!
Honestly, I can’t even remember the pain any more. Sometimes I can conjure up the feelings, the memories. I can remember the moments that robbed me of my very breath. But for the most part, the pain has passed into the deepest recesses of my mind, buried under a growing mountain of blessings. I have been blessed to experience the Father in deeper ways than I have ever dreamed. I’ve seen His hand take my circumstances and open doors no one could conceive. I’ve seen Him provide for me and my children as only the Almighty Creator of the Universe could provide. I’ve seen my capacity to love expand. I’ve seen my faith grow greater than I ever imagined.
I wish I could recount for you every blessing. Truthfully, I could never come close. What I know is that the blessings continue to pour in, even in the deepest pain. Perhaps part of redemption is learning to see from God’s perspective rather than our own.
Redemption does not mean the pain goes away, but it does mean we are no longer controlled by it.
The pain will always be part of my past, but it is fading into nothing more than scars. And even as the scars fade and lighten with time, it has had a profound effect on every aspect of my life.
But it no longer controls me.
I am proud of my scars, of the story they tell. I am proud that I have come through the battle, possibly weary but a survivor. The battles have made me who I am, changed me, made me so much stronger in so many ways. I will always bear the scars, but never will they hold me back from a beautiful future.
Redemption is seeing that even the pain can be used to make you better.
This week has been amazing as I am overcome by the goodness of my Father. I feel as if He allowed me to see the redemption on Easter morning, and each day just gets sweeter.
Maybe you aren’t at redemption yet. Maybe you are still in the throes of the pain, wondering if you will ever make it to the light at the other end of the tunnel. Maybe the shock has worn off and you are in the daily grind of trying to figure out how to live this new life, to return to some sense of normalcy. Maybe you are in the waiting stage, wondering when God will come through with the many promises He has made for you.
No matter where you are, I hope you can take hope from my story. You see, I’ve been there. It’s been nearly eight long years since my life crumbled (maybe nine depending on where you start counting). But finally, I see it! I see the long awaited redemption He promised!
And His redemption is worth the wait.
Weeping may last through the night, but joy comes with the morning. Psalm 30:5b