Sunday, April 11, 2010
I was on retreat this weekend. It was really, really good.
About 40 single adults (40’s and 50’s and beyond) headed up to Zion, Illinois and hunkered down at the Illinois Beach Resort. OK place with a beautiful backyard. That backyard is filled with Lake Michigan and sandy beaches. It’s a very nice piece of God’s creation.
Singles ministry, especially with older singles, is always interesting. Most have experienced loss. Some are widowed. A whole lot more are divorced. Others have never married and more than a few of those wonder why. Many have lived long enough to battle illness, nurture wayward children and change careers a time or two. These are seasoned human beings.
Some singles have lost old friends because of their singleness. Even churches sometimes don’t know what to do with them. And they’re plopped into the middle of a singles world that’s filled with both expectation and exploitation. Dating rules have changed. Faith is sometimes fragile. The trust needed to build new friendships is often lacking.
This past weekend we experienced community, talked about important things, luxuriated in a northern Illinois sunlit spring Saturday, and met God again in fresh and hopeful ways.
I was reminded of my need to ‘get away’. Even though I was one of those ‘in charge’ I was able to retreat a wee bit. Even though I’m tired I’m not exhausted. I was replenished more than diminished.
I’m fortunate to know many of the back stories of my fellow retreatants. I know some of their history and have been privileged to be allowed to question some motives and challenge some thinking. With many I’ve laughed in the midst of their joy and been absolutely stunned by their courage. They’ve told me about being abandoned by God and being surprised by His grace. I’ve walked enough miles with many of them to know them and for them to know me. The miles together, the stories told, the laughter, and the confrontation are grist for the mill of community building.
God showed up in some rather nice ways. A scavenger hunt broke down some walls. Our attempts to sing a capella had its moments of both reverence and wonder despite our difficulties with melody and timing. Video tapes of Andy Stanley helped us probe our inmost selves helping us ask the deeper questions of trust and hope. It all worked together rather nicely for what I have to believe God’s purpose and intent for our retreat.
I have a hunch that most who attended walked away encouraged and loved. In a world that’s filled with disappointment and can sometimes be very lonely these are not insignificant things.
We live in a world yearning for opportunities to taste the truly good things of life. It’s not fine food or expensive cars. It’s better than that. It’s that brush with the Divine, the opportunity for friendship, the unexpected laugh and the heartfelt response. These are the good things of life.
I’m a lucky man. I journey through life with good people. They allow me to touch their life and they help fulfill mine. God uses them to mold me more and more into His image.
I wonder how many reading this need an opportunity to stop their life for a bit and get away. Not a vacation. Not a tour. A retreat. Alone or with others. It’s a chance to see ourselves, to meet God again, and either rediscover or recover our life. Even though we know we need it we don’t take the time to do it. It’s too bad. I wonder how much better all our lives might be if we took the time to do what we need to do instead of making excuses for our inattentiveness to what’s necessary.
I retreated this past weekend. It was a God-thing. Very thankful.