You would never know by looking at it, but this photo was the beginning of a long journey of redemption. However, in this photo, I would have told you that I was overjoyed, that this was the end of our road of redemption, and that it was perfect. I would have told you that God brought my brother to my wedding, and that was the miracle. That was the end, and it was so good. But God had so much more in store; his redemption was beyond this moment and was better, and more full, and more deep than I could have ever imagined. And his redemption of my brother is ongoing, and his work for my family, and in my heart is never-ending, and indescribable.
“Now to him who is able to do immeasurably more than all we ask or imagine, according to his power that is at work within us.” Ephesians 3:20
In this photo, my brother had a few weeks before he would spend some time in jail for a crime he had committed just seven months prior. I will never forget the call in the middle of the night that my brother had been arrested, and the hours, days, weeks that followed in a blur of tears, and unknowns. The Lord was in and through it all, and the addictions my brother had kept secret for months, were coming to light, and the pain of watching him fall apart was overwhelming. But I will say it again, the Lord was there through it all, and he was doing “immeasurably more” than any of us could have ever asked or imagined.
In these incredible times of trouble, there was nowhere to look but up, so look up we did. And the Lord was with us: weeping with us, pushing through closed doors with us, opening up opportunities, holding us, being strong for us, being patient with us. The only thing I remember from those times is that He was with us. Every time there was an impossible roadblock, something no human could surpass, the Lord provided a way, and it was always more, and better than anything we could have created ourselves.
The pieces fell together just right for him to be able to stand on the altar with me as I was married to the man who had walked through so much of this alongside us. And, like I said before, this had seemed like the end of the road: my brother safe and home. This was all I could have ever asked for or imagined, and he had done it; the Lord had crafted a miracle! But God is in the business of doing way more than we can fathom, and that is what he did for us, for me.
Just over eleven years from this picture, and my brother is married to an amazing woman of God, has a beautiful two year old girl, and a little boy on the way. He is leading worship at his church, digging deep into scripture, and walking closer with the Lord than he ever has before. All of this is only possible because of the hard work he did, and the beauty of the hand of God in his life. A couple years from the incident, my brother sat with my parents, my husband and I, and his future wife, and confessed to us, asked forgiveness from us, and asked for our help in keeping him accountable to the life he now lives. I can’t tell you how humbling an experience that was, and how proud I was of the incredible man sitting in front of me in that moment. And he could never have come to that place without the painful places he came from.
In the midst of the pain and uncertainty of our lives, I prayed for redemption. I prayed for safety, rescue, healing. This was literally all I could imagine. Who could imagine that I would see my brother leading others into worship in the very city that broke him years earlier? Who could imagine that I would see my daughters laughing at their Uncle Stephen over Facetime? Who could imagine watching my brother toss his baby girl into the air as she squealed with laughter? God knew, and as he walked us through the pain, I can just imagine him saying “Oh just you wait child, you don’t know what I have in store. Just hold on a little longer, and I promise it will be worth it.”
And it is, folks, it is. I would not trade any of that for my brothers amazing wife, and his precious daughter. I would not trade any of that for the close and goofy relationship that I have with my brother. I would not trade any of that for the spiritual maturity my brother now has. I wouldn’t trade any of it. But in the midst of it, had the Lord asked me my opinion, I would have said take it all away. Take away the pain, the heartache, the sleepless nights, the frightening phone calls, take it all away. But if he took that away I might never know his true nature. I might never know that God really can, and really will, do “immeasurably more than all I could ever ask or imagine.”
If you are in the depths of trauma, all I ask is that you hold on, trust the Lord, and know there is another side. The other side of redemption is sweet, worth it, and more than I could have ever imagined. So hold on tight for Gods will to run its course, keep praying, keep hoping, and keep knowing that Gods got it, and he will orchestrate sweet moments, sweet love, and the sweetest redemption. It is the only thing he does.