It's Wednesday morning ... about halfway through this year's youth beach retreat ... and so far it's been an incredible trip! We had a nice trip down, great weather, well-behaved students, excellent food, fantastic adult leaders, encouraging small group times ... and best of all, a faithful God Who is actively involved in the lives of everyone here. Please continue to pray that the Lord will work His grace in all of our lives during the remainder of the trip.
Of course, this isn't quite heaven ... we have the visible reminders that we're sinners living in a fallen world. The mattresses aren't the most comfortable, the gnats are as bad as I've seen them here, and then there's the boy's bathroom (just use your imagination on this one). I raised 7 boys so I know the destruction that can come to any living quarters when you put several of them together. I think there's a Bible verse about that - something like, "Where two or more are gathered ..."
Right across the street from the place we're staying (Jericho dorm at Laguna Beach Christian Retreat) is a new 3.2 million dollar home under construction. It's beautiful, classic looking, big, 3 story, nice design, etc. This house anywhere would be fairly expensive just due to its size and quality. But what makes it SO valuable and expensive is the location ... beach front! It's right on the Gulf and has a large deck and walkway that gives instant access to the "world's most beautiful beaches." It's been the topic of much coveting the past couple of days. We're thinking of asking the congregation to consider purchasing the house for future retreats!
One of the things we discussed in our small group last night was the idea of contentment ... of how the Gospel empowers you to be content no matter what sin, flaw, inadequacy, weakness, etc. may be exposed in your own life. Sure, we're here in the Jericho dorm where the beds aren't so great, where the water pressure is often weak, where hot water may run out, where the sofa has a sheet of plywood underneath the cushions, where the internet is sketchy, where the furniture is dated, where the AC isn't as cold as you'd always like, where you have to cram several in a room together, etc. ... and surely the house across the street won't have any of these problems or limitations. But here's the deal - we have all this and Jesus Christ too!!! When we truly begin to understand the Gospel we realize we no longer deserve or may demand for anything; rather, knowing what we actually deserve (God's wrath and curse) we become grateful recipients of what we do have in Christ - forgiveness, mercy, kindness, grace, new life, sonship, redemption, love.
Sure, all this is nice, but we're still NOT living on the beach front! But you do realize we're literally just across the street from the beach ... we only have to take a few steps to enjoy it. In my mind this is a picture of the "now" and "not yet" of the Kingdom of God. We're not yet living on the beach side in total luxury but we can enjoy the many blessings it offers now even though we're in a much lesser location.
The day is coming soon when our beautiful beach front home will be ready for us and Jesus, wearing His flip-flops and everything, will welcome us to our eternal home that He is constructing for us. But today, enjoy where you're living, despite all the limitations, and take a few steps of faith and enjoy all the abundant blessings of God's Kingdom that are already available!