I’m gonna be a bit selfish for this blog entry. But I want to speak about a very important word in the Bible: REDEMPTION. When we think of the word REDEMPTION, we often think only in terms of being redeemed from the threat of hell and receiving eternal life, which we also often call “Salvation”. However, this isn’t the only redeeming activity the Lord is up to. God desires to redeem us, not only for Heaven’s eternity, but for the here and now. We often forget that our relationship with Him is about living in the here and now, not just worrying about whether or not we’re gonna make it to Heaven.
In 2008 till now I have seen the amazing redeeming power of God in my own life and in the life of Refuge. On many occasions, there were those who thought “this is it for Refuge”, or “this is it for Tom”. Both the church and me personally have struggled through some very difficult circumstances, yet even in the midst of these circumstances, God has proven Himself faithful. In the past year we have had to endure many challenges that should have decimated Urban. Yet even with great transition and important people leaving, God has continued to bless Refuge with growth and vital new blood. And in my own life personally, God has brought a form of redemption that I never knew was possible.
For my entire adult life there have been deep longings that have never been met. Without going into personal detail, suffice it say that they are now met in the most amazing of ways. A close friend and pastor commented to me recently that it is amazing how God has brought redemption into my life. As everyone at Refuge knows, in 2008 I was re-married. My story reminds me of Job. While I don’t compare my life to Job’s suffering, I am reminded that like Job, God restores what is lost because He is concerned about our redemption even in the here and now.
In Job’s life, God restored unto him everything that he lost when Satan was allowed to test him. I have a similar story and am so thankful for my lovely wife and two beautiful daughters. In our wedding ceremony, God continued to remind me of His intention to redeem. What I mean is that for the few days leading up to the ceremony, Venice, Florida was fraught with super hot weather and overcast, dark skies. On top of that the wind did not stop blowing. This is not a good recipe for an outdoor beach, sunset wedding. For days we didn’t even see a sunset. So we could only guess at the exact timing of it. On the day we were to be married, the clouds opened and the dark skies brought an immense rain storm that seemed to be centered on the Venice/Sarasota area. Needless to say, we were a little afraid that it would rain on our plans to be married on the beach. But as God uses the rain to redeem the land, He used this storm to redeem our day. By midday, the sun was out and the weather was much cooler. And because the front had passed, by the time of our ceremony the wind had died down. This was important because I sang a song to my wife during our ceremony and if the wind had remained strong, we wouldn’t have been able to hear it… or the guitar music my good friend was providing during the entire event.
As it turned out, we had the most beautiful sunset ever as the perfect backdrop for a perfect wedding. It was truly miraculous. God used what many might view as coincidences, to remind me that we were not only in His will that night, but that He had redeemed what was once considered to be lost. And “thankful” is not a big enough word to describe my response to God’s redeeming love. This redeeming love is being expressed every moment of every day by my wife and beautiful, loving daughters and now Tommy III. Of course, I view this as God’s love expressed through His children. This love is pure and not based on the past, for the very essence of REDEMPTION is to be cleansed from past mistakes and to become a new creation in Christ. God has redeemed the things of old, whether good or bad and made all things new. This is the power of a redemption that only God can provide.
I can’t help but wonder what Job must have felt when he stood in awe of all that God restored unto him. Did he regret what had happened? I don’t know, but I tend to think he did. But as I look back at the last year, I have no regrets. There were moments when I didn’t think I could survive it, but in hindsight I see now that God used the circumstances of my life to bring a REDEMPTION that I could never have imagined or foreseen. So I bow to His infinite wisdom and thank Him for the trials of life that brought me to this moment of complete redemption. This redemption has brought a fulfillment and a joy that I have never before experienced.
Though your life may look bleak at the moment, remember that God redeems what is HIS. So stay His. He cares about your here and now. You may have lost your job, your home, your car, or even your family. Like Job, you may feel utterly decimated, yet God REDEEMS what is HIS. Your cries do not go unnoticed and your past will not stand in the way of God bringing about HIS will in your life. God wishes to erase the mistakes and shut the mouth of the accuser. That is the nature of REDEMPTION. If you will only trust in Him, He will redeem you, for you are HIS. It’s not just about getting to Heaven anymore… it’s about living in the redemptive, healing, presence of the God who loves you every single moment of every single day. Why am I writing this today? Because the word of God reminds me to “Let the redeemed of the Lord say so”. So there you go. I am REDEEMED!
God is also in the process of redeeming Refuge. What was once lost will be found again and the accuser will have no say regarding the establishment of God’s house. God will redeem what is His. Like I always say, “Refuge has undergone many difficult trials, but we’re still here.” God will not only sustain us and provide… He will redeem. Our only job is to remain faithful & hopeful and God will do the rest. Let the redeemed of the Lord say so.