God is our home, and from birth to death, the whole of our lives is a journey to return home.
• Lisa Sharon Harper
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On Sundays in Easter, we are hearing from Lisa Sharon Harper about The Very Good Gospel: How Everything Wrong Can Be Made Right. Her book is about the fullness of the good news that Jesus lived, died, rose again, and ascended into heaven to give us. Harper tells us that God’s good news is about shalom, the opposite of our often “thin” understanding of the gospel.
In chapter four of The Very Good Gospel, to illustrate the concept of shalom with God — the most fundamental relationship in need of restoration — Lisa Harper tells her own story of conversion and the ongoing healing of her relationship with God.
Until the end of the American Civil War, slaves were not permitted to legally marry. So rather than conducting a typical marriage ceremony, men and women who vowed to love, serve, and protect each other till death, the master’s whip, or their sale made them part signified their commitment by jumping over a handcrafted broom. On one side of the broom, they were single; on the other, the two became one in the spiritual realm. I’ve come to refer to the night I walked down the aisle at the church camp meeting as the night I jumped the broom with Jesus. That night Jesus said, “I love you, Lisa. You are worth pursuing. I have pursued you across two thousand years. I broke the barriers of time and space to be with you again.” That night I said yes to Jesus. I dropped my well water at the altar, and Jesus’s living water began to trickle up from my soul.
…My problems, issues, and brokenness weren’t all taken away that night. But something real— something transformative— had happened at the altar. I entered back into relationship with God through the person of Jesus. In the decades since August 21, 1983, God has revealed the presence and impact of broken relationships in my life. God revealed a deep sense of self-hatred and shame as well as broken relationships with men that stemmed from childhood abuse. God revealed a penchant toward overconsumption and a disregard for the rest of creation. God revealed hopelessness for the healing of my fractured family as well as the reality of my social, economic, and political status as an African American in the United States and within the evangelical church. God also revealed my American privilege on the global stage.
The revelations came slowly as I was able to handle them and with guidance from others who had trod the paths before me. In the chapters that follow, I will share some of what God has shown me on this journey. With each revelation, God has given me light, healing, and redemption. The healing has come in God’s way, in God’s time. And thirty-two years later, I am still waiting on God for some of the most stubborn brokenness in my soul and life to be healed. Meanwhile, I partner with God to bring healing to some of the most broken corners of our society and world.