When we come into contact with those who have had a less than favorable past, we have a decision to make in how we view them. Candace and I have been talking about this recently. She was pointing out that it's not people's pasts that are the problem but how they view their pasts. The distinction between those whose past mistakes have brought them to a humble realization of their need for a savior and those who stand obstinately in their pride and make excuses for their wrongs is what makes the difference.
Redemption has been such a great part of my life that sometimes it's easier for me to see beyond people's sins than it is for others. My childhood was marred by divorcing parents. Through the years I could see God's grace woven throughout it all: a mom who worked very hard to pick up the pieces and make a life for us, a grandmother who gave of herself to love and keep us as a part of the family, a dad who always kept in contact with us, took us whenever he had the chance and spent much time teaching us the things of the Lord and a step-mom who loved us and sacrificed so that we could be a part of our dad's life. I did see many of the consequences of sin but I saw people's sinful lives redeemed. My children are now blessed with a Grandfather that, though he does not share their bloodline, cares for them like he did and they love him so dearly you would never know he officially bears the prefix of "step-". In my younger years, I was blessed with a woman who loved me as a daughter (and I her) and now in my older years I am blessed with a man who loves me the same way (and I him).
Because of this I am keenly aware of this thread of redemption in the lives of others. I will admit that I rarely have tolerance for those who willfully continue in sin, but I have a lot of natural compassion for those who have repented (not just apologized but TURNED from their sin) and sought to make a new life.
I know the reality of turning and making a total and complete change. I married a man who was once an atheist, a thief, took drugs and commited other sins. (Amazingly he was a virgin and had never even kissed another girl, which was a huge blessing for me.) The wonderful evidence of what God can do is that I have never seen any remnant of that old person he was, not even a trace. He has been a wonderful husband and father. That is the power of God's redemption.
How could a life like mine that stared out so with such a foreboding of disaster be what it is now? I've been married for twenty years and have a beautiful family. I live in a beautiful area and enjoy the incredible blessing of living right next door to my mom and my sister. Daily I watch my children and my sister's run through the woods and find absolute delight in being together. How did that happen? God's redemption.
My kids have six adults in their lives who are intimately involved and watch over them with incredible diligence. These first few young men that come along seeking for our daughter's hands will have all six to answer to. They are going to have to be men enough to stand the test. But underlying it all will be a golden thread of an understanding of - God's redemption -.