Alright!! Here we go with blog post number three about my youth retreat experiences… The topic I want to talk about today is one that really hits home for me, so let’s get started…
I’m sure that many of us have heard Jesus’ story called the Parable of the Prodigal Son at least once. If not here’s the gist of the story. A father has two sons and the youngest asks the father for his inheritance while the father is still alive and well. The father gives the inheritance and the son goes off and squanders it. Upon losing everything, he gets a job feeding pigs and is starved. He realizes that his father’s servants lived a better life than he was so he sets off to go home to apologize and ask his father for a place in his home as a servant. The father sees his son (implies that he has been waiting for the son to return) coming home and runs out to him, embraces him and reinstates him back into the family.
Now there are many things about this story that were highly controversial for that time (which makes me appreciate the father’s gestures even more), but today I just want to focus on the aspect of the father waiting (I’ll save the other aspects for another day).
I usually associate myself with the son and I see God as the father. The interesting thing is that this story was told on Saturday afternoon as one of the talks being delivered, and then I experienced not once, but four incidents where I had to wait on the youth (of which I will tell you the two that really stood out to me). Not to say that I am comparing myself with God; but after these experiences I thought more about what God was possibly feeling towards all of us (except probably to a much, much greater extent).
The first incident I want to talk about is this. So, on Saturday night, there was an outdoor game that involved running around in the dark and finding things. To make things worse, it was raining hard. The youth were split into 4 teams and they had to collect balloons (which counted for certain points depending on the colour). Since I didn’t want to run in the rain in the dark, I chose to be one of the leaders that hid and handed out balloons when the youth found us. My station was located on a playground. Let me tell you, hiding in the rain in the dark on a creepy playground is NOT fun (my pants were soaked and it wasn’t from peeing in them hahaha). The whole time I was sitting in the quietness, all alone, waiting for some youth to find me. By the end of the game, I still had balloons that were uncollected (all the other leaders managed to give all of theirs away except for me and one other). Talking with some of the other leaders that night, it was quite evident that all of us had one thing in common that we wanted to happen… We all wanted to be found (for the benefit of the youth and for our own benefit).
This got me thinking, are we making God wait for us? Is he sitting in dark as WE run around searching for him (sometimes in the completely wrong places). There was also another thought. When I have an encounter with God, he usually has something to give me (just like I had balloons to give to the youth). Is God trying to tell me that he has already given me a balloon, but there are more left to give? Am I missing out on something? I just want you to think about this for a bit…
Alright, now for the second incident that happened to me. So Saturday night was Daylight Savings and so we would “lose an hour of sleep”. Even so, some of us planned to meet at the gym at 6 the next morning to play some basketball. Two of the youth in my cabin asked me to wake them up when the time came. Being the initiator, I made sure that I was up the earliest (I actually ‘slept in’ 15 minutes and felt really bad about it). I shook the two youth to wake them up, their reactions were priceless… They kept on sleeping like little babies (Cue the “AWWWWWWWWWWWW”…) After a bit, I decided to head out to the gym because I didn’t want people from other cabins to think that I was ditching them by not going. As you probably could’ve guessed, I was the ONLY one there. I decided to just shoot around by myself for an hour (because maybe they didn’t change their clocks an hour ahead), but still no one came. That’s when I decided to go back to my cabin. Upon return, some of the youth were up, including one of the two that I tried to wake up. He felt really bad about not waking up and I could tell he really wanted to go play, so I offered to go play again. This time when I tried waking the other youth up, he woke up (apparently tickling his soles was what I should have done the whole time…). So the three of us made our way to the gym and played for about an hour.
What spoke to me about this was that God will also “wake up” at the time that we agree to and he will wait for us to come out the the meeting place. When he gets tired of waiting he goes back to where we are. When we finally wake up, he offers to go out again to where we were supposed to meet him to begin with. He will always, Always, ALWAYS give us more opportunities to spend time with him, even when we fail to do it sometimes. God is like the father in the parable, waiting patiently for us. When we finally wake up from our stupor and go find him, he RUNS out to meet us and throws his arms around us.
I pray that this encourages you today.