I had the joy of helping lead this past weekend's ski retreats for our Sr. High and college age ministries. Though the two groups traveled and skied together, they stayed in separate houses and had separate meetings. Overall it was a great weekend for all 35 of us ... lots of skiing, sufficiently COLD weather, plenty of good food, great time spent in God's Word and small group discussions, only one trip to the hospital (thankfully limited to a strain and bruise), big snowfall on Saturday night to make everything beautiful, chains for the vehicles (which proved necessary), and a safe trip there and back.
Even the negative factors turned out to produce positive results. I learned to put snow chains on the vehicles, the COLD weather made the houses very inviting and cozy, and the fact that my personal vehicle broke down on the way home and was towed to Cleveland, TN and couldn't be checked out until the next day and that two of us needed to stay the night because of space limitations in the other vehicle and I didn't get back to Moody until Tuesday afternoon and it cost me $297 to get it fixed ... all that was more than adequately offset by the joy I had getting to see my granddaughter Ella, Dane, and Brinkley. It actually sort of made Anita jealous!
It seems that every retreat like this one illustrates the same thing ... the beauty of how the body of Christ works! There's a ton of work that goes into pulling off such a retreat. Elizabeth and Greg, though they didn't go with us, did a lot of work preparing food stuff for us prior to the trip. Elizabeth made the arrangements for the skis, rental house, etc. The Humphreys, once again, extended much grace, generosity, and kindness to us by allowing us to use their house up there. All the adults who went on the trip - Jason and Anne Marie Webb, Marnie Harding, Jason and Sarah Blair, Kristie Lawrence, Anita Boykin, and Merrel Stringer - were absolutely incredible with managing the food, keeping track of and relating to the students, maintaining order in the houses, and fostering a Gospel atmosphere for the students to taste of the goodness of Christ. Jon McGinnis risked frostbite helping take the chains off the vehicles. Conner Puckett, son of former CPC youth director Scott Puckett, did a wonderful job challenging our Sr. High students with the Gospel. Every student, high school and college, helped clean up the houses without complaining (parents, they can do it!) And not to be discounted, all the folks back home who prayed for us during the trip.
The work to which God has called us requires a lot of work ... work that's hard, ongoing, and tiresome; it doesn't end as it does for a weekend retreat. Community Presbyterian Church has been and is still on a long journey that requires the work of so many people! Former and current members and staff have served together, struggled side by side, loved one another, experiencing success and failure together, challenged and encouraged each other, and have all depended on God's grace as He has formed and nurtured His church for here for roughly 30+ years.
As beautiful as it is to see God's people work together on a retreat it's just as beautiful to observe the daily operation of the church ... sinners working together, called to holiness, called to be ambassadors in a foreign land, focusing on Christ, in absolute reliance on God's grace, under constant attack from the enemy, and needing one another. It does require a lot of work and that means every one of us has a job to do. The body of Christ is an amazing thing! Don't miss out on beholding it's beauty and experiencing the joy of being involved.