Redeemed to Rescue

Fanny Crosby wrote, “Redeemed – how I love to proclaim it!” What does it mean to be redeemed? Webster defines redeem as: to make something that is bad better or more acceptable; to exchange something for money or award; or to buy back something. Over and over in scripture God calls Himself Redeemer. Why is this significant? I believe because this characteristic, more than any other, brings us hope. It also brings God glory, which plainly stated just means that God gets the credit for the things He has done.

When you are in the midst of a painful or confusing situation, knowing that God can and will make something beautiful from it comforts in a way that words cannot express.1 If you have a child or friend who is behaving in a way that distresses, you can have faith that God is still at work in them and that He has promised not to stop that work until He has finished.2 If you are going through a period of financial shortage, you can be sure that God will supply all of your needs.3 And if you feel that God would never love you because you have done the unforgivable, then He wants you to know that Jesus has already paid the penalty for every sin you have or will ever commit.4 These are all examples of God’s redeeming nature. And history is full of God’s redeemed people.

One of my favorite Redeemed Stories is George Mueller. In his life we can clearly see God at work renovating his character, refining his skills, directing his steps and mightily using him as a conduit of God’s redeeming love. The Bible tells us that God loves to use the weak, poor and unqualified so that when incredible things happen the only possible explanation is God.5

As a child, teen and young adult George Mueller would do whatever he could get away with. The only time he felt remorse for his many thefts and scams was when he got punished, and then he was only sorry for being found out. As some might resolve to stop doing the things that they got punished for, he would resolve to never again get caught.

Once, when he had gone into debt to maintain his fun-loving lifestyle, he concocted an elaborate scheme. He made sure that everyone between the post office and his dorm room knew that he had received his monthly allowance from his father. Getting to his room, he hid the money in a secret compartment, broke the lock on his trunk and went for a walk. Upon his return, he yelled until his classmates came running and showed them the “evidence” that he had been robbed. They then proceeded to take up a collection for him and his creditors even extended their deadlines because they had heard of his bad luck. In the end, he more than doubled his money! He was very pleased with the way that turned out, never worrying about how his shenanigans affected his “friends.”

George was always the life of the party, ready to drink and gamble with anyone who’d pay or extend him credit. He often entertained everyone in his favorite pub with tales of his wild escapades.

A friend who had been trying to lose his goody-goody reputation and follow in George’s more exciting footsteps admitted one day that he was going to a Bible study that evening. George promptly announced that he would also attend. He figured the evening would provide some hilarious fresh stories for the pub. Though shocked, the friend very reluctantly took him along,

Soon the tables were turned and it was George’s turn to be shocked. He had never heard God’s Word delivered in such a way. He realized that the leader actually believed the words he spoke. George had always assumed that preaching was just about impressing people with your sparkling vocabulary and clever phraseology. He had actually been training to be a preacher and was looking forward to the schemes he’d be able to pull on an entire congregation. The power and prestige of the position were very appealing to someone who was so drawn to the center of attention and greedy for the good life.

George was also intrigued by the way the leader prayed. It sounded as if he were speaking to someone in the room. George had never heard anything like it and was enthralled, soon becoming a regular at the meetings. It wasn’t long before he was kneeling next to his bed asking Jesus to be Lord of his life.

Strangely enough, even though his father had rebuked him for his wild living many, many times, this change of heart only drove them further apart. George decided he wanted to be a missionary instead of the respectable pastor that his father had envisioned. When he was informed of George’s decision he cut off all support thinking that would surely change his greedy son’s mind. Instead, it steeled George’s will. If his father didn’t believe in the work he wanted to do then he didn’t want his financial support.

When George returned to classes in the fall he had no idea how he would live. He decided to do something that seemed childish. In spite of feeling foolish, he dropped to his knees and simply asked God to supply his needs, then he got back to his schoolwork. About an hour later there was a knock at the door. His professor of Divinity was standing there with a stranger. Puzzled, George invited them in. The professor introduced the American doctor who accompanied him and proposed that George be this man’s interpreter along with his three companions for the rest of the year, and they would gladly pay four times the going rate! The professor also told George about a free room available at an orphanage that was across the street from the university. While staying there he heard about a way of living that he would never have imagined. This orphanage never asked anyone but God for money and they trusted God to meet their every need. George wondered, would God consistently honor such faith?

Once he completed his degree, God clearly worked to bring George from his native Germany to England where he exercised his faith daily by traveling to anyone who invited him to preach and living only on the gifts that God’s people chose to provide. He did away with pew rentals that were the accepted way to pay for preachers and even told his new bride that she would need to sell all of her possessions so that they would be free to follow wherever God led.

Living in England during years that saw huge portions of the population dying from diseases such as cholera, George was burdened to help the orphans that roamed the streets. He knew these were actually the lucky ones. Many were trapped within the “poorhouse” system where disease, abuse and hard labor stole the childhood of thousands. God gave George a vision for an orphanage – a new concept and one that was not accepted by the majority. He started out renting one building which quickly filled and became four buildings which quickly filled. This led to the construction of an entire complex to house, feed, educate and bless over a thousand orphans at a time.

This story is remarkable enough already, but there is much more to it. George determined from the beginning of his ministry to never ask for anything from anyone except God. Over and over and over again God showed up to bless just in the nick of time. The tales are wonderful. This is my favorite:

One morning three hundred orphans were dressed and assembled neatly in rows lining the dining room. The tables were set with plates, silverware, cups and napkins. Everything was ready for breakfast, but there was no food. Nothing in the house to eat! George asked all the children to bow their heads while he thanked God for their breakfast. As soon as they were all seated there was a knock at the door. A local baker was standing there with a huge tray of warm bread. He said that he was awakened at 2 am with the feeling that he should bake for the orphans. He brought in two more trays and soon all three hundred children were enjoying the fresh bread. Then there was another knock on the door. A milk man stood there. He said that a wheel on his wagon had broken just outside and he needed to repair it. But he couldn’t do that while it was full of milk jugs. Could the orphans use the milk? Some of the big kids were called to bring in six enormous milk cans. There was milk for everyone to enjoy with their bread and some left for their afternoon tea.

Many other times money was given to George to use for the orphans or his other ministries. Now think about how George started out. Would you have trusted him with your donation? But God had so changed George’s heart that he was meticulous in all his bookkeeping. He wrote every single donation down including the occasional penny or even half-penny given to him by the orphans all the way up to a gift of five thousand pounds. And if the donation was for a specific purpose it would not be used for anything else. Money given to expand the orphanage would only be used for that – even if there was no food in the cupboard. He trusted that God knew every need and would provide for every need. George’s character had been completely transformed. It is estimated that during his life of ministry nearly one and one-half million pounds passed through his hands. And it was all carefully accounted for down to the half penny.

During his years of overseeing the orphanages more than ten thousand children were rescued from the streets of Bristol, England and many more were saved throughout England as other communities patterned their own practices after George’s ministry. Surely no human would ever have foreseen a legacy such as that if they had known the self-centered, pleasure-seeking young man that George Mueller had been.

George Mueller travelled all over the world in his latter years when the day to day tasks of the orphanage had been taken over by his daughter and son-in-law. He preached the gospel to crowds on every continent. He was able to testify that he had once been lost but now he was found. He could tell how God had supplied his every need. And he could encourage his listeners that there was nothing in their lives that God could not fully redeem.

Yes, God is still at work redeeming people and situations. I have experienced this is my life many times and love to tell the stories of my Redeeming God.  In what ways has God redeemed you? In what areas of your life would you love to experience God’s redeeming power?

Yes, God is still at work redeeming people and situations. I have experienced this is my life many times and love to tell the stories of my Redeeming God.  In what ways has God redeemed you? In what areas of your life would you love to experience God’s redeeming power?