By Matt Redmond
“Hey, can I talk to you?”
A few years ago, I got that text from my pastor and I gotta tell you, my heart was in my throat. I hate nothing more than someone saying they want to get together and talk, especially if it’s not something we do a lot. If we typically don’t go to lunch or get coffee and you ask me to go to lunch or get coffee with you, I can promise you I will spend most of my waking minutes leading up to said “talk” wondering what I have done to hurt your feelings or offend you. This time was no exception.
For days I wondered what I had done to deserve this. My heart and mind were in violent turmoil. I lost sleep. I constantly turned over various reasons for this meeting in my head.
Did I criticize something he said and tell the wrong person?
Did I write a blog that the elders are concerned about?
Did I say something in a sermon that was wrong or offended someone?
And then in a moment of clarity I’d tell myself I was being ridiculous. It was probably just coffee to catch up. But then—
Why not lunch? Why only coffee?
Maybe he doesn’t want it to be long.
Maybe he just wants to deliver a short, to-the-point rebuke with only a small investment of time and money.
I couldn’t get any peace of mind until we met and I knew why he’d called this meeting.
Finally the day came, the appointed hour arrived, aaaaaand… it was just coffee to catch up. That’s it. There was absolute peace between us, but I had been living for a number of days—what seemed like years—as if we were at odds. I had even tried to prepare ammunition for defense of the various fictional criticisms I assumed he would lodge in my direction. Sounds funny in the telling, I know, but I do this all the time, even with God.
Here’s how it goes: Something bad will happen and I will immediately begin to question how God feels about me. I will doubt His love for me. I’ll assume He’s ticked off about some sin in my life—maybe one I’m completely unaware of—and then I’ll start to think, What is it between us?
But then I remember Paul’s words: “For God was pleased to have all his fullness dwell in him, and through him to reconcile everything to himself… by making peace through his blood, shed on the cross” (Colossians 1:19–20).
I say “remember” because I tend to forget what’s true. I forget that regardless of what suffering I may be going through, even if it’s of my own making, God and I are at peace. I forget that while I still struggle with sin—even sin I’m unaware of—we are at peace.
I am at peace with God, reconciled to Him, but not simply because He’s “nice.” God and I are at peace because peace has been bought for me through the blood His Son Jesus shed on the cross. That peace is unshakable and it cannot be altered. It is not dependent upon feelings, nor does it change with my actions—all the things I do or fail to do. It is as sure as Christ Himself. This peace is a fact, and it is a gift.
Written by Matthew B. Redmond