“Forget the former things;
do not dwell on the past.
19 See, I am doing a new thing!
Now it springs up; do you not perceive it?
I am making a way in the wilderness
and streams in the wasteland.”
This past weekend, I got to witness a miracle first hand. My mother and father-in-law, who had been divorced for almost 15 years, were remarried in front of family and friends at a celebration held on Saturday. It is not common to see two people who have been apart for many years come back together and once again take vows of marriage. This is no “fairytale” ending to a sad story. No, it is a true miracle to see how lives that were broken by sin, are now experiencing the restoration and forgiveness and joy that comes as a result of knowing Christ Jesus as Saviour and Lord. The point of all that has happened is not that they can now experience romantic love once again, but the point is that God has and continues to showcase His awesome power to take things that are broken and to transform them. He gets all the glory because He has brought many people to know Him in spite of all the sadness and suffering that has transpired. He used the pain of the events that took place in and as a result of the divorce to cause Sylvie and Younan to realize their sin and turn to Him for salvation. Being in a right relationship with God is the greatest need of the human soul that is marred by sin, so watching this weekend’s wedding was a testimony not to the fleeting and infinitely inferior expression of romantic love, but of God’s ability to redeem and restore people to himself.
I’ll explain what I mean. Why is it that I can say that this is not just a nice story of how two people who went through deep relational strife simply moved forward and put the past behind them? It is because I know what has transpired in the lives of both my mother-in-law and my father-in-law. Sylvie came to know the Lord as a result of the painful divorce. She was invited to a church by a friend and as a result of hearing the Gospel, she became a believer. For years she prayed for the salvation of her (then) ex-husband. For years there was no change or response in him and his attitude towards the Lord. But, because of God’s work in her life, enabling her to understand the great truth of the Gospel that God saved her through Jesus’ death for her sins, she was able to genuinely forgive. Her life exemplified the kind of forgiveness that a person can show as a result of the forgiveness they have received from God. Sylvie was an example to her children of patience, kindness, and love. She did not hold on to bitterness or resentment but showed Christ’s love in all she did. By God’s grace, after years of prayer Younan also came to know Jesus as his Saviour.
In the Old Testament book of Isaiah, God says to His unfaithful people Israel that in turning from their sin and seeking Him for forgivness, He forgets the former things and does a new work of bringing life to those that are dead in their sins. This is the Gospel truth. God takes the lives of sinners who are dead in their sin and transforms them. Not because they are good or seek after Him or do good things to be accepted. God loves people IN SPITE of their sin. In turning away from your old sinful ways and having faith that God, because of His son Jesus’ death on the cross on your behalf, loves you and forgives you and will do a new thing by bringing life to your dead heart, you are transformed.
This weekend’s wedding was a picture of how God loves us and forgives us and transforms us because of the Gospel. This world is broken by sin. Each person is broken by sin. We have all failed to keep God’s law, and as the book of Romans says, we all fall short of God’s glory and therefore the wages of our sin is death. Not just temporal physical death, but eternal death and separation from God. Therefore, our greatest need is to be reconciled with God and brought into a right relationship with Him. I hope that for those reading, you will see how even a small event like the wedding that took place this weekend, is another example of God’s goodness towards people who don’t deserve it, and in seeing this, you would also turn to God to know Him, to know the forgiveness of your sins, and to know the hope and reality that only through Him are all things made new and restored.