As he rode in the back seat of the car he listened to his traveling companions speak of a variety of issues that people of this age discuss. Politics, sports, weather, news…the chatter continued throughout the drive. It was a pleasant conversation among friends but he simply could not fully engage in the discussions. His mind kept racing, first from the issues of work he was leaving behind and then to the fear of the unknown that lay ahead.
They had called it a spiritual retreat. Four days away from the activities of life, secluded in a mountain setting with nothing to do but think of God. How could anyone spend that much time doing nothing but godliness? What were the other people going to be like? Would they have anything in common to share? Was this going to be a big waste of time? How are all the tasks being left behind at work going to get done? Wouldn't a vacation be better spent with the wife and kids? What new things about God is there to learn for person who has taught Sunday School for ten years?
The questions, apprehension, and the uncertainty continued throughout the three hour journey. His nerves began to affect his digestive system which only added to his discomfort and uneasiness. The closer they drew to their destination the more withdrawn he became.
The clear mountain air filled his lungs as he stepped out of the car and the sweet aroma of pine eased his growing tension. At least it was a pleasant setting. A few days in the woods smelling the clean air might not be such a bad thing after all. The people he met were pleasant and they all looked relatively normal. At least there weren't any weird holier-than-thou attitudes that he could detect. As he placed his bedding into the bunk bed he resolved to make the most of this experience, after all, it was too late to turn back…
The drive home was completely different. There was a combination of peace and excitement within his heart. He really hadn't expected anything to change in his life; but it had. Now he looked forward to a new life. Little by little, throughout the weekend, glimpses of God had been revealed. He first began to see it in the eyes of the other men at the retreat. Smiles filled their eyes and a glow radiated from their countenance. There were personal moments where he heard, saw, felt, and even smelled the glory of God. Questions were answered and secrets revealed. He was walking away with a full understanding of God's promises and how they were being fulfilled in his life.
There was joy and excitement as he drew closer to home but there was also anxiety. Would his wife understand? What could he say to her to help her realize what had taken place? Would other people see the difference? Would they accept him now as the creation that God had intended? He knew that there was work to do. He knew that the promise of change was not instantaneous. But a clear picture of the process, the pathway to glory, lay before him and he was ready for the journey.
Glorious Lord: The more you reveal yourself in our lives, the more we come to understand the magnitude of your love. At times, when we draw close, your glory is so intense that we just want to stay deeply wrapped in its warmth, never to venture from it again. We are filled with mixed emotions. We are fearful and joyous in the same breath. We want to stay and act at the same moment. We want to share our experience but realize we can't accurately express your glory. Truly understanding your love only comes from first-hand experiences. With this in mind, we pray that you work through us to help reveal your glory to the world. Help us to be a "light shining in a dark place," so that the world can come to know you. In everything we do, may your glory be revealed. Help us to create opportunities for people to see larger and larger images of you so that they, too, can become the disciples you are calling us all to be. Thank you for your love and for your Son, through which these prayers are made. Amen.