Take a moment. Picture yourself as the central figure in a frightening scene.
In this bleak setting, you find yourself huddled in a dark room. The stone of a cold wall cuts into your back, and sounds of moaning reach your ears. Your heart pounds at the scraping of the heavy door and the approach of a shadowed guard. He drags you from the pit-like room and shoves you up steep stairs into blinding, midday sun. Pushed toward a raised dais, you gasp for breath, and as you do, foul air fills your lungs. Your fear rises as you recognize the putrid odor. The nauseating stench of death hovers in this air.
Forced onto the rotting platform, your knees give way and the skin beneath your shackled wrists tears anew. Fresh blood oozes from your festering sores onto your tattered clothing. Stomach gnawing with the ache of days-old hunger, heart racing with fear, you feel shame, anger and desperation in the cruel slave trader’s presence.
Before you mills a crowd of vacant-eyed men. They eye you with murderous calculation, coldly considering whether you are worthy of purchase. You hear mocking, haughty voices assessing your value, weighing whether you have the strength to perform needed tasks, to excel if you are acquired. Are you worthy? Do you have anything to offer? Sounds of pitiless, harsh judgment and jostling impatience compete with the ringing in your ears. Dread consumes you. In the presence of this oppressive bleakness and misery, you dare not make eye-contact.
Is there no way of escape? Are all in the crowd ruthless and evil? Could there be anyone who would care to rescue you?
“One look,” you think. “I’ll lift my eyes just once.”
As you do, there among the malevolent crowd stands an older gentleman. A man of might and power, yet with kindness in his eyes. His bearing is that of a different sort of strength. His countenance communicates fierce power and authority, yet is compassed in goodness, in sure tranquility.
His eyes meet yours. Yours brim with hopeless tears. His fill with compassion, concern, pity. Could that even be love?
He motions. He speaks. You strain to hear his words to them. Could it be that he called you by name? The slave-traders laugh in derision, yet seem to fear his authority. They obey as those subservient to his command and pull you off the block. “But, how would he know who I am? How could he know my name? Have I been purchased?” you wonder.
A place of golden light
Unexpectedly, unaccountably, you realize you are being taken to a magnificent home. A place filled with warmth and peace. Ears which rang from fear now rejoice to hear the warble of birds and the happy sounds of distant laughter. There is no brutality or cause for fear here. There is radiance, instead. No savagery, or oppression or discord. No humiliation or shame. The wild beating of your heart begins to calm in this place of transcendent wonder.
You are led to a room of indescribable beauty, a place of golden light. The pleasant aroma of a lavish feast hovers in this air. Your mind fills with questions. What is this lovely place? Why am I here? For whom does this feast await?
You realize that the older gentleman stands ready to greet you. His regal bearing and power fill the room. His very being emanates unsearchable strength and rightness. Yet, he approaches you with sympathy and compassion. He takes your hands in his, carefully unshackling your mangled wrists, concerned for your wounds. Why would a master treat a slave with such tender care?
“Why would you so freely unchain me?” you cautiously ask. “Am I not to be a slave in your home?”
“No,” he replies. “Not a slave.”
“Well, a servant then?”
“No, not a servant.”
“Am I to stay here?” you ask in growing confusion.
“Yes, you are to stay,” he reassures.
“How then?” you timidly ask.
“You stay as a daughter.”
“A daughter? But, how can that be?”
“Adopted,” he answers, with warmth in his eyes.
“Adopted? A daughter!? But, at what price?” you exclaim. “I know a ransom had to be paid to purchase me from the slave block.”
“Yes, you were purchased. Your ransom was paid.”
“At what price?” you ask in wonder.
“My own son, whom I love, was the freely given ransom.”
“Welcome,” he says. “Welcome home, my child. You never knew it, but I have loved you with an everlasting love. Enter freely into my presence with joy. All that is mine is now yours.”
Would your heart burst with humbled, yet unspeakable joy? Ransomed? The ransom paid was the father’s beloved son?! How can it be that he would love unlovely me? I have nothing to offer, and yet I have been chosen out?
Loved everlastingly? Home? Me? How me!? I am full of astonished praise toward him for the glory of the undeserved favor given to me, a sinful woman.
This is the purpose for which you were made. To erupt in praise for the glory of his grace to you, through the death of Jesus as the ransom for you, a sinner — to live with the Father, basking in the joy of just such an abiding, unhindered relationship. Your Maker, your Ransom-Payer, your Rescuer chose to purchase you off the slave block.
And He didn’t just purchase, but He adopted you. He brought you home.
Fear extinguished. Heart no longer racing in fear, but now pounding with unfathomable, praise-filled wonder. Full of true joy that trumps all lesser joys.
Redeemed. Ransomed. Adopted. Loved with everlasting love.
“Even before he made the world, God loved us and chose us in Christ to be holy and without fault in his eyes. God decided in advance to adopt us into his own family by bringing us to himself through Jesus Christ. This is what he wanted to do, and it gave him great pleasure. So we praise God for the glorious grace he has poured out on us who belong to his dear Son. He is so rich in kindness and grace that he purchased our freedom with the blood of his Son and forgave our sins. He has showered his kindness on us, along with all wisdom and understanding …” (Ephesians 1:4-8)