“…the God who gives life to the dead and calls things that are not as though they were.” Romans 4:17
This weekend, I took some students and adults on a spring retreat. As I prepared, I doubted the value of such a feat. I personally put in 50-60 hours of prep work to get us there, and I’m not the only one who contributed to making the retreat happen. It costs the church a significant amount of money to rent vans, purchase the supplies, and pay for the band, the speaker, etc. Only 40 students went. We have more than that at our 7th-9th grade group every Wednesday night. I knew it would be a fun weekend away for most everybody; I just wondered if it was the best use of the church’s money and volunteer time. I also felt crummy the first day of the retreat, which undoubtedly contributed to my uncertainty.
Now that I’ve spent almost 3 hours reflecting today, I’m feeling God’s blessing on the use of money, skills, time, and emotional energy. I’m reminded of a God who gives life to the dead—quite literally in some cases—but also to the spiritually and emotionally dead. I’m a zero on a scale from one to ten on risk-taking. I’m safe, predictable, cautious, and conscientious. This weekend my sister talked me into doing a “giant swing”—think harness, pully, helmet, safety glasses. Yeah. I screamed before I ever let go and started swinging. And then I did…talk about feeling alive.
Even more spectacular for me was watching an overweight 7th grade girl overcome her fear of the swing. She freaked out moments before; we talked her into going through with it. She doubted we could get her in the air; we recruited the strongest young men there to hoist her high into the air. Then she let go—and she laughed and smiled and yelled. It was beautiful. She was full of life, not hiding behind hair or weight or a book.
“The God who…calls things that are not as though they were” references when God calls Abram to be the father of many and changes his name to Abraham, even though he’s old and hasn’t had kids yet. This weekend God called things into being that were not. “Outsider” became “insider.” “Stranger” became “authentic woman.” “12th grader” became “man.” “Fool” became “wise.” “Teacher” became “pastor.” “Singer” became “leader.” “Sinner” became “forgiven.”