I will give them an undivided heart and put a new spirit in them; I will remove from them their heart of stone and give them a heart of flesh. (Ezekiel 11:19)I don't fully know how to express to you that James is such a different person than he was before his wreck. But let me tell you, there has been great happiness at our home lately. Great thankfulness.
Then Jesus told them this parable: “Suppose one of you has a hundred sheep and loses one of them. Doesn’t he leave the ninety-nine in the open country and go after the lost sheep until he finds it? And when he finds it, he joyfully puts it on his shoulders and goes home. Then he calls his friends and neighbors together and says, ‘Rejoice with me; I have found my lost sheep.’ I tell you that in the same way there will be more rejoicing in heaven over one sinner who repents than over ninety-nine righteous persons who do not need to repent. (Luke 15:3-7)
I know this passage is from Revelations 19, but it is what happens in heaven when God looks down on my new husband:
Then I heard what sounded like a great multitude, like the roar of rushing waters and like loud peals of thunder, shouting:
Tomorrow a long-awaited day will come. James is getting baptized, he is making a public stand with Jesus. He's stating that his faith is strong in his salvation- he has, maybe like the disciple Thomas, needed to feel instead of just hear. He woke up from his sedation a thankful man. Aware of what he has and what he almost forfeited. And the symbolism of baptism is especially poignant since he came awake- literally awake from the very edge of death, to a new life.
Or don’t you know that all of us who were baptized into Christ Jesus were baptized into his death? We were therefore buried with him through baptism into death in order that, just as Christ was raised from the dead through the glory of the Father, we too may live a new life. (Romans 6:3-4)
"For Christ’s love compels us, because we are convinced that one died for all, and therefore all died. And he died for all, that those who live should no longer live for themselves but for him who died for them and was raised again. So from now on we regard no one from a worldly point of view. Though we once regarded Christ in this way, we do so no longer.
Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, the new creation has come: The old has gone, the new is here!
Now I look forward to a new chapter in the Dear family story. For a while now it has been a ship without a captain in a big deep sea.
But looking ahead instead of behind- even just looking at each day- I am, for the first time in a long time, optimistic and cheerful and buoyant with hope. And I want to tell you that as you read this story- since, because it isn't your household, it's just a story- that this is a story of renewal and redemption, and it can be your story too.
You don't have to be hit by a truck to have Jesus renew your life. Of course, James is a little bull-headed and needed quite a bit of... stimulus... to get his attention fully. But Jesus' offer to give you a do-over, to make you into what he designed you to be- it's for each of us.
All this is from God, who reconciled us to himself through Christ and gave us the ministry of reconciliation: that God was reconciling the world to himself in Christ, not counting people’s sins against them. And he has committed to us the message of reconciliation. We are therefore Christ’s ambassadors, as though God were making his appeal through us. We implore you on Christ’s behalf: Be reconciled to God. God made him who had no sin to be sin for us, so that in him we might become the righteousness of God. (2 Corinthians 5:14-21)
So I tell you this, and insist on it in the Lord, that you must no longer live as the Gentiles do, in the futility of their thinking. They are darkened in their understanding and separated from the life of God because of the ignorance that is in them due to the hardening of their hearts. Having lost all sensitivity, they have given themselves over to sensuality so as to indulge in every kind of impurity, and they are full of greed.
That, however, is not the way of life you learned when you heard about Christ and were taught in him in accordance with the truth that is in Jesus. You were taught, with regard to your former way of life, to put off your old self, which is being corrupted by its deceitful desires;
to be made new in the attitude of your minds; and to put on the new self, created to be like God in true righteousness and holiness. (Ephesians 4:17-24)
I love, love Zephaniah 3:7, and am thankful for the image of God rejoicing over James with singing, and proud to be married to a man who delights the Lord.