Big Words (Prayer Devotional for the week of March 17, 2013)

One of the kids was flipping through the wall calendar, looking at each month’s scenic photo. The one for December is blanketed in snow, and he and his brothers oohed and ahhed over it. Someone remarked, “Wow, we’ll never have a white Christmas like that!” I replied that never is a big word, and just because it isn’t likely that we’ll have several inches of snow at Christmas doesn’t mean that it has never or will never happen.

That sparked a conversation about other big words. We talked about always as being the opposite of never. We also talked about promise-words like will and yes (as in, “Yes, Mom, I will do my chore.”). Our words carry weight, and they shouldn’t be thrown around willy-nilly without any thought for what they mean.

Come to think of it, the Bible is chockfull of big words – some are little words with big meaning like the ones the kids and I discussed, and others are “Christianese” words that we may tend to skim past because they aren’t terms we use often, like sanctify, righteous or redeem. To redeem something means to pay it off or swap something in exchange for it (ex.: redeeming a coupon at the store for a discount).

Psalm 49 compares the word redeem to the word ransom; the psalmist sings about the extraordinary cost to ransom someone’s life. In Nehemiah 1:10, we learn that God redeemed the exiled Israelites by his strength and might against their enemies. Our lives aren’t simply point-of-sale transactions to be redeemed like coupons … there are high stakes involved. God pulled out all the stops to see that we were ransomed, and it took a lot more than just money to do it.

I Peter 1 says, “For you know that it was not with perishable things such as silver or gold that you were redeemed from the empty way of life handed down to you from your ancestors, but with the precious blood of Christ, a lamb without blemish or defect” (v. 18-19, NIV). As we look toward Easter in the coming weeks, reflect on the drastic measures that God took to ransom your life, so that he could redeem you as his own.

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