Previous Challenge Entry (Level 3 - Advanced)
Topic: Red (10/01/09)
TITLE: I See Red
By Brenda Shipman
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Once again, I sat in the tiny cubicle at the jail and looked at my son through the Plexiglas window. We held the phones up to our ears and struggled to find something, anything to talk about. What topic could we discuss that would not eventually lead us back to everything he had said and done in the past four years which had brought him to this point? I thought of a possible book title, "How to Talk to Your Child While He’s Incarcerated." Maybe someone should write THAT book on parenting; yeah, what a page-turner that would be.
Four years of rebellion had taken Sam from being a Bible-believing sophomore at an Ivy League university, to someone I scarcely recognized anymore. He recently claimed to no longer believe in God, and considered himself an existentialist. Well, I guess that certainly explained the avalanche of sin that had consumed and nearly destroyed his life.
My mother’s heart searched his face for even a tiny trace of that little boy who once considered the martyred missionary, Jim Elliot, his hero. But all I could see now was darkness – a black scourge. And I hate black.
Throughout my visit with Sam it became obvious that pride, arrogance and lying still reigned supreme in his life. I began to sob, great heaving sobs of anger and sadness all mixed up together. I felt like if I didn’t leave I would certainly turn inside out and end up spewing destructive words that could never be retrieved.
He seemed confused and said, “Mom, it’s not like I’m on death row or anything.”
He didn’t understand.
“I’m just so sorry it’s all come to this, Sam. I love you. I’ll always love you, because you are my son. But right now I’ve just got to go.”
On the way out to the car I thought about those five stages of grief that everyone talks about - denial, anger, bargaining, depression, and acceptance. Lately, I’d been waffling back and forth between depression and anger. But in this particular moment all I saw was red - fire-breathing, red hot anger. Anger because he’d tossed aside a rich childhood filled with God’s Word, the beauty of the gospel, exposure to wonderful music and art and great literature – and family memories that were not perfect, but good. There was no excuse for the direction he had chosen. None at all. It almost felt good to indulge in my anger – sort of a release. Maybe I actually wanted to see red.
Red. I thought of that song by Petra that was so popular in the seventies, “The Coloring Song.” The lyrics pierced by heart.
"Red is the color of the blood that flowed…down the face of Someone who loves us so. He’s the perfect Man, He’s the Lord’s own Son, He’s the Lamb of God, He’s the only one… that can give us life, that can make us grow, that can make the love between us flow."
All I could see through my angry tears was the black sin in my son’s life, the black that made me see red. But in that moment, and through the words of that song, God tenderly turned me to look at another red. The red that flowed from His own Son. The red that gave me newness of life and brought me out of the darkness. The red that washed me white as snow. I cried even more.
I see black. I see red.
God sees black. But then God also sees red – a red that has the power to wash away all the black in each of us and make us whiter than snow.
My red may cost me peace of mind, joy, sleep, good health, and even my relationship with Sam.
God’s red cost Him His own dear Son, and is offered freely to each of us. Even to my son, even to me.
That old fiery venomous red continues to lurk at my heart’s door, seeking release every now and then. And yes, I occasionally give in… and see red.
But thankfully, God sees red too - a pure holy costly red that cleanses and renews. It is this truth that continually prompts me to pray, "Color my world, God. Color my world with the red that flows from Calvary’s tree. And while you’re at it, God, please color my son’s world as well. Amen"
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