September 2, 2013

THE SCARLET CORD (For Dysfunctional Families)

If redemption were a colour, I think it would be scarlet.

Nathanael Hawthorne's magnum opus, The Scarlet Letter, brilliantly treats themes of guilt and sin.   Victor Hugo´s powerful redemptive theme in Les Misèrables is a classic that has impacted young and old throughout generations.  But there is still no bigger masterpiece on the subject than the Scriptures themselves.  Redemption is strewn throughout its pages from start to finish.  It's kind of like, well, the main point.

The Scriptures are replete with redemptive symbolism, theology, detailed descriptions of ways to obtain it,  visual imagery, prophecy about it, personal examples and even colours embedded with redemptive meaning.  Crimson and scarlet have been deep-seated in Christian memory and tradition.  Scarlet is  a symbolic colour.  A rich, metaphorical colour.

That metaphorical quality jumped out to me this week in the story of Rahab and the scarlet cord. By her faith, evidenced by the scarlet cord, she saved her entire family from death.  A scarlet cord.  Used to identify the woman of faith, she and her family were spared from the fate of the rest of her community. (You can read the whole fascinating story yourself in Joshua 2 and 6.)  A simple, scarlet cord - reflecting her faith in promised redemption - was used to propel this sinful woman into the very "Hall of Faith" in Hebrews.  I find that astounding.  On the basis of her faith, evidenced by that scarlet cord, God even unabashedly included her title in Hebrews 11: Rahab the Prostitute.  A scarlet cord changed her life and her legacy forever.

Does your family need a scarlet cord?

Mine does.  All of us know dysfunction and sin to some degree or another in our extended families - and in our immediate families.  Mixed in with some God-fearing legacy, my own children are mindful that they have indeed inherited a mixed bag.  Between both sides of the family we have experienced divorce, addictions of various kinds, criminal activity, depression, suicide, mental illness, verbal abuse, homosexuality, homelessness, childhood abandonment, ADD, special needs children, accidental deaths and more.  All of this may not be within the definition of dysfunction but they have all certainly caused dysfunction!  It just isn't very pretty. Certainly not a legacy anyone would sign up for.

Yet did you realize that Rahab´s redemption went way beyond simply saving her and her family from physical harm on that day?  God redeemed not just her life or profession - He transformed her entire life history and legacy!  She went on to live among the Israelites (God's special chosen people), to marry an Israelite and become implanted in the very genealogy of Jesus!  As if that wasn´t enough, she bears a son, Boaz, who ultimately became the Kinsman-Redeemer of Ruth and thus, a picture of the NT Redeemer for centuries to come.  If Rahab the Prostitute can change her family line by her faith, so can you and I!  

There is hope for dysfunction.  Hope for sinners.  Hope for families.  Hope for our legacy. Hope for our future.  There is scarlet for our shame.  Scarlet for our children. Scarlet for anyone willing to put out the cord and trust in the Everlasting Redemptive God.

I hope you know and believe that there is a scarlet cord available to your family.  A cord which changes its history, its genealogy, its legacy.  A cord which changes the family's colour. A cord available to any individual willing to believe and to hang it out for the Redeemer to see...

I think it´s His favourite colour.

Egyptian artwork photographed by:  Sushma Sabnis


  1. Powerful! I am taking this with me to our parenting group. So often we are tempted to despair when dysfuntion of the kinds you've mentioned thunder around our hopeful clinging to Christ. This will be such an encouragement to us all. Thank you, Pam, for distilling this truth down into something we can carry in our pokets, mount on our mirrors, tuck under our pillows where we weep. Praise the Lord, our Redeemer!

  2. Thank you for the encouragement. I needed it. I thought my family was the only dysfunctional one! Thank you for reminding me - there is Hope!

  3. Thank you for the reminder, I will share this. That was beautifully written.

  4. buenísimo madre! no tengo que decirte que siento lo mismo...gracias por compartir con todos esta esperanza. gracias por cambiar tu herencia para darnos una mejor, te quiero!


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