There really are no words. And, I hardly took any pictures. It was one of those weekends, you know? But, I have some things I want to share with you. I just want to sit on the front porch in a white rocking chair with you to the left or the right of me, and whisper a few truths into your ear. Would that be okay? Here we go:
Exercise Your Gifts
If you’re part of the body of Christ, you’ve got some spiritual gifts and they should not be overlooked or underutilized. You might not think the gifts you have add up to very much, but don’t be fooled. Do not be fooled. Your gift, combined with all the other gifts, make for some fabulous astoundingness. Seriously. Trust that the Giver of the gift will not let you fall on your face or be embarrassed or fall short of your own expectations. We need you to do your thing. We do.
More than a year ago, my friend Frances said she wanted to help out with this year’s retreat. I have no detail skills. I’m a big picture person. I told Frances she was in charge of decoration, but I had no vision or expectation of what she’d come up with. All I knew is that the budget was tight. And when I say tight, I mean it. And do you know what Frances told me? She said, “I actually like working on a tight budget! It’s more of a challenge!”
And so, from recycled materials, Frances transformed a stark, business-like conference room into a warm and inviting haven for nearly one hundred attendees at last weekend’s retreat. Exercise your gifts.
Let People Help You
The first time around, with JumpingTandem: The Retreat, I pretty much took on the whole thing by myself. People kept asking me, “How can I help?” or, “What can I do?” or, “Please tell me what I can do to help.” And, I kept saying, “I’ve got it. I think I’ve got it.” I did not have it. Not by any stretch of the imagination. But, I was too proud or scattered or embarrassed to just admit my need for help. Thankfully, at the last minute, Holley Gerth introduced me to Nasreen Fyneweaver, who stepped in and pulled together all the details and the retreat was a success. Whew!
Much of the reason I couldn’t ask for help back then is due to my simple inability to know how to get from point A to point B, or even to know which one is point A and which is point B. It’s all one scattered mess in my brain, except for the big picture part. Some of you totally get this and you’re nodding your head while you’re reading these words. The rest of you are breathing into a paper bag. I know. I’m sorry.
So, this year, many months in advance of the retreat, I put out a call for volunteers, and people responded! They had ideas and resources and connections and dreams and they offered them up without a second thought. I was blown away. For real. God may have given me the idea for this retreat, but he made it possible through others in the body of Christ who were just waiting for me to ask them for help.
Enjoy the Experience
The biggest difference between the last retreat and this one, is the fact that I did not feel as if I was going to have sixty heart attacks. I sat and had long and meaningful conversations with people. I listened to the keynote speakers without wondering if everyone was comfortable or if the air conditioner was working or if anyone had a food allergy or what was supposed to be happening next. I breathed. I rested. I laughed. I cried. I retreated, just like everyone else.
We are better together. Everyone says it. We all know it. Most of us believe it. Or, at least we say we do. Teamwork is a beautiful thing. God will pull together just the right people at just the right time, if only we let him. There’s no need for one person to carry all the weight. Not in the body of Christ. We were made for each other. We are in this together. And, when we let the body be the body, it’s always God who gets the glory.
We Have Not Arrived
I almost wasn’t going to include this one, but I can’t seem to get away from here without sharing this one last thing.
No one is perfect. Some of us wear our messiness on our sleeves and others of us wear it covered up beneath our MAC foundation and our designer jeans. If you’ve got something going on and you need people to help, do not be choosy about the people God sends to you. When God sends people who have gifts and they can help you, let them help. Let them serve. Let them be part of the team. Let them share their story in front of a crowd. People will scratch their heads and wonder what you’re doing. But, God is redeeming all things. All things.
No one is perfect. Only Jesus. The people he called to serve with him while he walked and ministered on this earth were the people on the margins. Check the record and see for yourself. When God sends people to you and he says, “Her. I want her to be part of this,” go with it. Because this is God’s story, you know? He’s quite clear about the cast of characters.