Rough Edges and Reminders
By Matt Redfearn
In the early part of 2008, God nudged a friend of mine to invite me to a Tres Dias weekend. It wasn’t going to be an easy sell. I had been hurt deeply by the church, and my faith went missing fifteen years prior. I never lost my faith in God, but I had stopped listening to His voice and heeding his call on my life.
And to be honest, I had been bashing church-going Christians for years.
My friend said, “Don’t give me an answer right now. Just pray about it.” Okay, but I was certain my answer would be no. After all, why would I want to hang out with a bunch of Jesus freaks for three long days? True to my word, I did ask God, “Do you want me to go to this Tres Dias thing?” And for the first time in many years, I heard an undeniable “Yes.” Really? Maybe I should set up a test to prove it was really God speaking. And before the end of the day, he had won out. I called my friend back. “Sign me up,” I said. “And Tonya, too.”
Looking back, it’s clear how The Lord’s hand had directed me all those years, teaching me more about Him and His unfailing love. During the weekend, one Rollo after another took well-placed aim on my broken walls. At one point I stepped away and knelt down in front of the cross. “I can’t go back to the way it was,” I told God as I wrestled. I couldn’t go to my wife’s church, and she clearly wasn’t going to switch and follow me anywhere.
Just then a team member walked in, placed his hand on my shoulder and spoke softly in my ear. “God does not care where you go to church, just that you do.” I looked around, and he was gone. God nudged him to speak those words to me, though he couldn’t have possibly known my struggle. The very next Rollo was The Church. The church is not the building, but the people in it. The church is you, Matt, as well.
Suddenly, I was reminded of all those years I tried to convince people to leave the church. So you won’t get hurt like I was. What a revelation. Instead of helping people, I had been hurting them, just as I had been hurt all those years ago. And God wasn’t done with me yet. At dinner that night, I noticed a simple little wooden cross on my plate. I looked around. Nobody else had a cross, nobody. It must be a message from the Lord, I thought, tangible proof that He is always there, to give me strength to carry on and to do what He wanted, even though I don’t think I’m capable. Even more, that He loved me and cared about me.
I put the cross in my pocket, and that’s where it’s been every day since that Tres Dias weekend. Now, whenever I feel like something is too difficult, that I am out of strength to go on, I reach in my pocket and feel that little wooden cross. The rough edges, the hard lines are a reminder what Jesus did for me, and the pain He endured, all because He loves me. God is here now, in the present, and through Him all things are possible. It all began at Tres Dias. Now, I have the courage to stand up and face any adversity with strength and confidence that God will see me though.