Tuesday, April 17, 2007

What Did I Get Out of It?

This is a popular question - as a consumer culture, we want to know if we're getting our money's worth. I hear it frequently when people talk about church experience; they "get a lot out of the service" or they're "not getting much out of the service" (or "not getting fed" by the service).

I can understand this line of thinking - I have been in churches where I've felt the Spirit moving mightily during the gatherings, and others where I've felt nothing. I've been challenged and encouraged by sermons and I've endured lame and inane sermons.

I won't even go so far as to say that you get out of it what you put into it, because that's not always the case. And besides, this post wasn't supposed to be about this - this was just supposed to be the introduction to "what I got out of the retreat."

I went into it with some ideas of what I wanted to get out of it.
  1. I wanted rest. There was a reason that we scheduled the retreat for the week following Easter. I had a fantastic Holy Week and Easter was wonderful, but I was exhausted. I put a lot of energy into the services (and preaching at ONU), so I needed the break.

  2. I wanted some answers. I have some questions; I kind of feel like I'm at a cross-road in some ways, and I wanted direction.

As for what I got out of the retreat...

I got rest. It wasn't just a "get some sleep" rest - which I did need, but a real rest. I'm talking about the Matthew 11:28-30 kind of rest:

"Are you tired? Worn out? Burned out on religion? Come to me. Get away with me
and you'll recover your life. I'll show you how to take a real rest. Walk with
me and work with me—watch how I do it. Learn the unforced rhythms of grace. I
won't lay anything heavy or ill-fitting on you. Keep company with me and you'll
learn to live freely and lightly."

I didn't get specific direction, but I got the big picture - that God is in charge, and my job is to be faithful. It's not so much about what I do, but who I am that's important, but more importantly, it's who God is. I felt like the whole retreat was a time in which God told me:

"I'm Daddy. Come sit on my lap for a while."

Truly, there's nowhere better to be. I remember as a little boy, how I loved to sit in my daddy's lap when he got home from work, how I loved when he would gather all three of us kids into his lap and read to us. It was cuddly, happy, and safe.

As we get older "Daddy" is replaced by "Dad" and some of what made being little so wonderful is lost. But God is always there to be Daddy and we should never neglect just sitting in His lap and basking in His love.

By the way, I absolutely loved that black chair, possibly because it was where we would always sit with Daddy, and when it had finally worn out, and it sat there on the curb for the garbage men to take it away, I was crushed. I can still remember sitting in that chair out by the curb at dusk, and even though parts of it were duct-taped together, I didn't understand why we were getting rid of it. Kind of like my pumpkin a few years earlier - the one that had bugs in it.


That Cute Littlest One on the Chair said...

yikes. we were very little. (And adorable.)
And can you look completely impartially at that picture and realize that maybe (except for the fabulous 'fro) you actually DO look like Dad????

Mark said...

As a father of two little ones, I cherish my "easy chair" time with the boys. I find it amusing that same Abba father picture of crawling up in His lap for refuge, rest, safety... was revealed to me when I purposely paused to listen to His voice. God the father desires "easy chair" time as well.

Judy Callarman said...

I remember my dad's old platform rocker. My brother and I sat in his lap in it, and then we took pictures of most of the grandchildren in his lap in that chair. He died before the last grandchild was born--but he only missed seeing that one. Thanks for this entry--