Lorri Dudley

Be moved. Be changed. Love because you are loved.

Tag: redemption

Silhouette of man and woman

Would You Want to Be a Character in a Romance Novel?

Silhouette of man and woman

We might relish the thrill of the hero and heroine’s gazes holding a tad longer than appropriate, the quickening of pulse as their fingers brush, or the intimacy of their mingling breath as a loose strand of hair is tucked behind an ear. We might sigh with longing at those romantic moments, but my answer is a firm, no, thank you. Granted, I may have a different perspective as a writer. I spend hours creating emotionally traumatic circumstances to force my heroine and hero to endure. When they think it can’t get worse, another peril presents itself.

In The Sugar Baron’s Ring which released this week, the hero, Bradlee, must return to England with his research in time to face the dons and pass his final exams, because his father is under the presumption Bradlee has already graduated. However, a drunken captain runs the passenger ship aground on a reef. When Bradlee stops to help a man, he loses his spot in the lifeboat. The vessel, then, breaks apart, and before he plummets into the dark, swirling water, a man yells, “Shark!” And that’s just the first chapter.

If writers aren’t spiteful, ruthless people, why do we need to torture our heroes and heroines? Holding a reader’s interest isn’t the only reason. We torment our main characters because, through their struggles, readers fall in love with the redemptive story. When the black moment hits and all is lost, readers experience how hope prevails.

We see similar suffering-to-redemption examples from the Bible. Naomi, in the book of Ruth, relocates to a foreign land due to a famine, her sons marry outside of their religion, and then Naomi’s husband dies. When it seems it can’t get worse, Naomi’s sons die. Let’s look at Joseph. His jealous brothers throw him into a pit and then sell him as a slave to passing traders. Joseph works hard and tries to make the best of a bad situation, but then he’s accused of a crime he didn’t commit, thrown into jail, and forgotten. And then, there was the Apostle Paul, he was arrested for being a Christ-follower, but during his transportation to Rome to stand trial, a storm sinks the ship. He helps the crew and captives swim to the island of Malta and build a fire, wherein another almost comical stroke of bad luck, a snake bites Paul’s hand as he’s warming them.

snake with mouth open

If we didn’t know the ending, we’d think God had it out for Naomi, Joseph, and Paul. In our own lives, when things take a turn for the worst, we may wonder if God is punishing us. However, we must remember the full story. Because of those trials, Naomi’s joy was redeemed through her daughter-in-law, Ruth, and she became a grandmother in the lineage of Jesus. Joseph became Pharaoh’s righthand man and saved his family from starving to death. Paul had an opportunity to heal and witness to many of the Malta islanders.

In our black moments, we may cry out to God and feel like it falls on deaf ears, but don’t give up hope, because hope hasn’t given up on you. In those bleak times, we must remember the redemption story, not the ones from fiction novels, but from history, where Jesus faced his darkest moment on the cross and took our sins upon him so that we may have life and live it to the full.

Or as I call it, happily-ever-after.

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Scene from movie Rudy where he is carried on his teams shoulders

Everyone Loves a Comeback

Tiger Woods winning PGA Tour Championship with large crowd

(Photo by Keyur Khamar/PGA TOUR)

A swarming crowd resembling a zombie apocalypse spilled over the green in their rush to obtain the best view of Tiger Woods as he won the PGA Tour Championship by two strokes this past Sunday. A choked-up, teary-eyed, and more humble Tiger credited his fans for helping him find his way back.

Jim Kelly former quarterback of the Buffalo Bills is another comeback kid. He Jim Kelly talking to Tom Bradydidn’t win the 1st Super Bowl he played in, but instead had to “come back for that,” and it wasn’t the only time. The man has come back from a troubled marriage, the death of a son, and now he’s fighting to make his second comeback from cancer. When he speaks, he’s not looking for sympathy despite all the hardships he’s been through. He speaks from a place of strength and publically gives all the credit to Jesus.

He said, “Things are going to happen in your life. It’s how you react, how you lead, and how you come back that makes you.”

At the American Christian Fiction Writer’s conference, I attended this past weekend, Liz Curtis Higgs author of Bad Girls of the Bible, said something that resonated with me, “Every Christian story comes down to the same thing – Redemption.”

I used to think every comeback had to end with a big success, but that’s not necessarily true. The two critical elements of a comeback are a struggle followed by redemption. Redemption being the key. Dictionary.com defines redemption as atoning for a fault or mistake, deliverance, rescue, or salvation. People don’t love the story of Rudy because he brought the team to victory. Rudy suited up for one Scene from movie Rudy where he is carried on his teams shouldersgame and only played twenty-seven seconds. It was how the crowd chanted his name, how they rooted for him, and believed in him that made the story. He never gave up hope, and his fans redeemed him. In It’s a Wonderful Life, George Bailey doesn’t come back by striking it rich in the banking industry. Instead, he realized all the people who loved, cared, and sacrificed for him. He was changed because of their love. And then there is the parable of The Prodigal Son. He certainly didn’t have a big success. The son merely came to his senses, and his father welcomed him home with open arms.

I’m not saying success is wrong or bad. I wish everyone great success. It’s just not the key. You may be close to God, or you may be far away and deep in the struggle. Redemption is what offers hope. It’s knowing that we are not stagnant creatures. We are changing and growing into God’s likeness daily. It’s the hope of shedding our old ways that have kept us trapped and in chains. It’s what gets us back up on our feet after we’ve fallen seven times (Proverbs 24:16). It’s knowing there is a host of angels looking on from heaven rooting for us and cheering our name. It’s what keeps us pushing through struggles, knowing that God is waiting with open arms to celebrate. He has his best robe and a ring waiting for your finger.

Because what was lost is now found.

Praise God.

“I have swept away your offenses like a cloud, your sins like the morning mist. Return to me, for I have redeemed you.” – Isaiah 44:22

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