You shouldn’t dance and drive. It’s simply not a good idea. Yet, as I progress through life, I’m finding it harder and harder not to. Just a little bit, you know, a head nod or two and one hand to tap out a beat while the other steers. While heading home on Boxing Day, fighting the urge to do just that, an old song came on the radio; Another Chance by Roger Sanchez.
It’s crazy, right? Some humans have been born and raised to adult life since that song came out. I struggle as much as the next person to understand how that is possible. If, that is, the next person is also in their thirties and wondering where time went.
As I drove a whole host of emotions came racing back into my head. It was as though dozens of happy memories with the song had rolled into one hazy moment of joy, like on Perks of Being a Wallflower where they drive through the tunnel and he says that at that moment they were infinite.
They’re playing Roger Sanchez, Another Chance, on @BBCR1. What a tune! A hatful of younger memories flood back, only they’re expunged of the circumstances that held them so they’re all kind of like flying.
— Pete Jobes ن (@peterjobes) December 26, 2017
The thing is, when I dug deeper to try and understand the memories I realised that actually the song was around at a really bad period in my life. The circumstances I was in when I used to play it a lot were pretty dire. Yet now they’re so distant I had to dig to find them and even then they didn’t trouble me. Why? Because God has since worked His redemption in a set of circumstances that seemed unredeemable.
It reminded me of a quote from Tim Keller, himself referencing Tolkien, about the fulfilment of the Kingdom of God; “The resurrection of Christ means everything sad is going to come untrue and it will somehow be greater for having once been broken and lost.”
Everything sad is going to come untrue and it will somehow be greater for having once been broken and lost.
— Timothy Keller (@timkellernyc) April 29, 2014
I have often puzzled over how this can be. When we inhabit a world that is at times so fractured and pained and broken, how can it be that this saviour we celebrate can turn that around? That we can one day know such goodness that all of the sadness and pain is gone?
One of my favourite passages, in Revelation 21, talks about this very thing:
And I heard a loud voice from the throne saying, “Behold, the dwelling place of God is with man. He will dwell with them, and they will be his people, and God himself will be with them as their God. He will wipe away every tear from their eyes, and death shall be no more, neither shall there be mourning, nor crying, nor pain any more, for the former things have passed away.” And he who was seated on the throne said, “Behold, I am making all things new.”
– Revelation 21:3-5a (ESV)
In that moment, trying not to dance at the wheel, I caught a momentary glimpse of what it’s like to see circumstances redeemed to the point that there is no longer any negative emotion or feeling left in them. To have a sad memory become a happy one, a hurt past become a whole past.
Sure, it was just a turn of the century dance record, but actually? The experience reminded me that even when you look around in a given moment and think, “how could God ever turn things around from here?”. He can, He does, He will.
He’s in the redemption business, and that’s the power that is constantly at work in our lives. He finishes what He started, and He can mend, heal, unpick and transform things we look at as beyond hope.
And I am sure of this, that he who began a good work in you will bring it to completion at the day of Jesus Christ.
– Philippians 1:6 (ESV)
There’s a painting I have by Helen Moss, commissioned with money I inherited from my younger sister, and worked into the canvas are the words of Philippians 1:6. As we go into a new year, let’s remember that we follow a God who brings dead things to life, works redemption in seemingly unredeemable situations, and is in the process of making all things new – including you and I.
One day we will look back, and all that was sad will have became untrue. Take heart and know that however it looks, the coming year will see Him continue that process.