My second favorite movie of all time is “The Shawshank Redemption.” Not that you care, but my favorite of all time is “Saving Private Ryan.” The Shawshank Redemption is the story of a wrongly convicted banker named Andy Dufrain. He was wrongly convicted of murdering his wife, and consequently sentenced to life imprisonment at Shawshank Penitentiary. Andy serves 20 years in prison…He befriends others, helps them when they are in need, and secretly stashes away a bundle of money the warden is embezzeling from the system. Finally, after tunneling out of his cell with a “rock hammer,” Andy has to crawl through a sewage pipe…500 yards….5 football fields of human waste and the most foul smelling refuge imaginable. At the end of that crawl is a blessed rain and a pool of water which washes Andy….uhhhhh, clean. Real symbolism….powerful stuff. The story ends happily enough and “no” I won’t spoil it completely for you if you haven’t seen it…by the way, it’s not suitable for young children because of language and some intense prison sceens.
Andy’s crawl reminded me of one of my favorite stories of redemption…with a somewhat similar scenerio. A friend of mine named Billy Ford had asked me to come to eastern Kentucky and preach a revival at his church…the Elkhorn City Church of Christ. Billy is an extraordinarily unique individual…the last time I saw Billy was at Church camp and he was wearing a tee shirt, jean cut off shorts…a white cowboy hat and cowboy boots….If you think of Boss Hog from The Dukes of Hazzard you will get a perfect picture of Billy and his appearance. But Billy loves Jesus and he loves people…I was at his wife’s funeral and he would continue to care for a beautiful special needs daughter named Brooke…who would bring you to tears by singing “Amazing Grace.” The first day I was at Elkhorn City I met Mac. Mac was the owner of a local garage. He was a hard working…honest..grease under the fingernails guy. I liked Mac immediately. Mac came to church almost anytime the doors were open, and yet he’d never given his life to Christ. He’d never surrendered to him in Baptism. Every evangelsit that had visited with Elkhorn City for decades had come by and talked with Mac…given their spiel and hoped for the best. My spiel was about my forgivess and redemption. How God sought a 17 year old rebellious pothead who had dropped out of High School…it’s, a long story, but one with a very happy redemptive ending. Mac seemed to listen, connect and he kept coming to the services but would not give in to the pleading of the Holy Spirit.
On Thursday of the revival week, Billy said I’m going to the hospital in Jackson…want to go with me. I said, Nope…I’m going back to talk with Mac…He knew more about cars than anyone I’d met…I loved cars and so, even if he didn’t give his life to Christ…I knew I’d enjoy that better than the hospital. When I walked into the little two stall garage Mac was on his hands and knees over a drain…holding in his hand what looked all the world to me like a uhhhhhhh, “piece of poop.” He looked up at me and laughed…and I said, “Mac…what are you doing?” He replied…”It’s a crawdad.” I said “what?” He said, “A crawdad.” And Mac proceeded to tell me how this “crawdad had crawled a hundred yards up this drain pipe from the creek behind his shop. It was dead now…or so we thought. Mac stuck it under the faucet and as soon as the water hit that little dude he came back to life and pinched the fire out of Mac’s finger…instead of being mad, Mac picked it up and he and I took it back down to the creek…as he let it go I said, “Mac, I know you believe in God…I know you even want to give your life to Jesus…why not?”
And Mac said, “When I was younger I did some horrible things…stabbed my cousin…hurt people terribly…I’ve done some things God can’t forgive.”
I said, “Mac, just like that crawdad…no matter what kind of life you’ve crawled through…no matter what has attached itself to your soul….the blood of Christ is more powerful than that water which washed the crawdad clean…His blood will cleanse…His redemption will redeem.” That night at the revival Mac was buried in Christ in baptism…surrendered his will to God and became a testimony for forgiveness. God can even redeem through a providential crawdad.
Living that truth daily,