What are your favorite sounds in the world?
Your husband’s warm chuckle? Soft snores from the kids’ room? Coffee bubbling into your mug? Book pages turning? The crackle of a bonfire? Which noises make you come alive, settling a deep contentment in your soul?
I personally thrill to the sound of a redemption bell.
Never heard of it? I hadn’t either until a couple of years ago at a training for church planting wives. The concept seemed small at first, but it’s proven quite a game changer for my heart and home. As we move into the season of sleigh bells and church bells and hand bells and all the rest, let’s add a new ring to the chorus.
Here’s the idea: you place a bell in a location of prominence, and you ding it every time you spot some kind of redemption. See? Easy enough.
Like most beautiful truths, simplicity accompanies the profound here. It’s impossible to start looking for redemption without the process utterly changing you from the inside out. What used to be the boring chore of loading dirty dishes becomes a movement against the decay of the fall. Ding! A brave conversation speaks truth over a friend. Ding! After months of conviction, you finally surrender and repent. Ding! Your brokenhearted teenager asks you to pray with her. Ding! An oven full of cookies smells more like grace than judgment. Ding! Your big project is finished. Ding!
Of course salvation is one of the loudest dings of all—but redemption isn’t a once-and-done event. It echoes through the tiniest moments of our lives, reminding us of the perfect footholds of the gospel: we are loved, accepted, chosen, forgiven, accompanied, anointed, rejoiced over, and on and on, straight into glory. God is always at work in this world, bringing in goodness and light even when we’re oblivious. If your reality feels like a wreck, the redemption bell just might prove to be your most effective weapon against the chaos.
Scripture makes a pretty big deal out of our thought life. What we look for is what we find; what we dwell on is what we become consumed by. In Philippians 4:8, Paul urges us, “Finally, brothers, whatever is true, whatever is honorable, whatever is just, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is commendable, if there is any excellence, if there is anything worthy of praise, think about these things.” And we’re prompted to set our minds on things above rather than on earthly things (Colossians 3:2). Romans 12:2 says, “Do not conform to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind. Then you will be able to test and approve what God’s will is—His good, pleasing and perfect will.” By turning every undertaking into a hunt for the Lord’s work in and around us, we safeguard our hearts from the onslaught of the enemy, and we prepare ourselves for the coming kingdom.
Don’t be deceived: the evil one certainly has a bell he rings with each small triumph (though it sounds more like a black hole than a gong).* Need proof? That feeling you get when you’ve just realized you screwed up. Or when you hear a kid committed suicide. Or when you read the news. Or when you get the scary diagnosis. With each wave of attack, that bell tolls disaster, and though we might not register what’s happening spiritually, it sucks some wind out of us. But even here, we can take courage. While Satan crowed and dinged his darnedest at the death of Jesus, three days later he was deafened by the great peals of heaven, the ringing of his own destruction.
This battle of bells turns us into either predators or prey. When I neglect searching out redemption, I find I’m easily sought out by disappointment. Unbelief. Self-absorption. Bitterness. Fear. Exhaustion. Manipulation. Why would I allow an internal tape of the songs of death when I can choose life? I’m not unarmed in this war. As I defy the opposition, I can celebrate with others over the bright spots they’re noticing as well, all of us locked arm-in-arm against hopelessness.
The sound of redemption expands my heart to hold increasing amounts of joy. With every ding, I remember God is on the move. He is honest and true, and His work will not be in vain. Let the bells begin ringing.
*To clarify, not everything is the devil’s fault. You can get sick without it being a demonic attack. Our adversary in a broader sense is this fallen world that carries with it death, disease, and decay. Brokenness can come from our own sin, others’ sin against us, or the fact that creation was warped through the first rebellion. Satan has been given a certain amount of rule over the terrain for a while, but his days are numbered. Every bit of chaos, whether from sin, Satan, or the twisting of nature, will be set right in the end. And that, I wholeheartedly believe, is worthy of a ding.