A red ribbon in a red district

William was born and raised in a preacher’s home. When he was 6 years old his mother died. The responsibility of raising the small child proved to be too much for his father, so William was sent to a boarding school, where he received a good education but was forced to endure being bullied on a regular basis. Years later, William fell in love with a young lady, but the young lady's father refused to allow him to marry his daughter, so William walked away a broken man.

William's life was filled with constant setbacks which pushed him to despair, causing him to attempt suicide several times. He drank alcohol laced with morphine and opium, but his suicide attempt failed. On another occasion, he hired a horse-drawn carriage to take him to the River Thames, where he planned to jump off the bridge, but the London fog became so thick the driver got lost. After riding around for an hour, William got out of the carriage only to find himself practically on his doorstep. Another time, William took a knife and fell on the blade, but the blade broke, sparing his life. On his final attempt, he tried hanging himself, but a neighbor "happened" to stop in for a visit just in time to cut him down, saving his life.

Finally, the preacher’s kid turned to the Bible where he read from Romans 10:13 that “everyone who calls on the name of Lord will be saved.‘ William cried out to God and found freedom from his despair and forgiveness of his sins. Later, William Cowper summed up his faith in God’s sovereign dealings with him by writing the lyrics of a great hymn, which reminds us that: "God moves in a mysterious way, His wonders to perform."

The story of Rahab the prostitute is filled with the wondrous and mysterious ways of God. She was living in a city destined to be destroyed, but God allowed her life to cross the path of two Jewish spies. Rahab risked her life by protecting these men and that decision wound up saving her own life. The two spies agreed that if Rahab was in her house at the time of the attack and had the scarlet cord tied in the window of her house, she would be saved.

Amsterdam, the capital of the Netherlands, prides itself on its tolerant attitude toward prostitution. Prostitution was legalized in the Netherlands in 2000, but the "ladies of the night" could not work the streets. So, prostitutes stand up behind a window in their room. The name "Red Light District" comes from the red lights shining in the windows where the prostitutes seeking to drum up some business. In Rahab's day, there were no red lights, but a red ribbon would be attached to the front door, so travelers would know where to find what they were looking for. The scarlet cord identified that the call girl was open for business.

As part of their agreement, the spies required Rahab to hang a scarlet cord in her window. This was the same window and the same red cord she used to lower them to the ground and escape. The red cord tied on the front door was an invitation to sin, but the red cord hanging in her window in the back served a totally different purpose — the scarlet cord waving from the window on the wall became an invitation to salvation.

There's no way Rahab could have ever imagined how her life would change when the two spies walked through the door of her house where a red ribbon was tied to the front door, but God works in mysterious ways. Rahab's red ribbon from the red district of Jericho was a strand from a long red line that ultimately led to a red blood-stained cross on a hillside outside of Jerusalem. The scarlet cord is a symbol of God's salvation. The crimson flow from the precious blood of Jesus delivers us from sin. Romans 5:8-9 reminds us that "God demonstrates his own love for us in this: While we were still sinners, Christ died for us." 1 Peter 1:18-19, states that "it was not with perishable things such as silver or gold that you were redeemed from the empty way of life handed down to you from your forefathers, but with the precious blood of Christ, a lamb without blemish or defect."

When the Son of God shed His life's blood on the cross, Jesus provided for the salvation from sin. When we confess our sin, displaying faith in Jesus, we are saved from judgment. Maybe you feel like you've done too much and you're hopeless, but God can pardon sin, no matter what your life has been like, just ask Rahab. No sin is so great that it falls outside what the red redemptive line of Christ's blood. Just as God mysteriously worked in Rahab's life, He can work in your life too. The loving Jesus can redeem your past, give purpose for the present and hope for the future, because of the crimson flow of Calvary's cross still flows.