Previous Challenge Entry (Level 2 – Intermediate)
Topic: Retreat (as in quiet time away) (08/01/05)
TITLE: Detoured Retreat
By Betsy Tacchella
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Upon arriving in Illinois, I relaxed on the sofa and expressed to one lady how much I looked forward to going to Wisconsin for the retreat. "Wisconsin?" she asked with a puzzled look. "Didn't anyone tell you we changed the location of the retreat?"
"No, they didn't," I choked in bewilderment.
"Oh... well, we're planning to be at a retreat center near Wheaton, Illinois," she announced.
My face flushed and my mind reeled as I calculated this new information. I had driven four hours to northern Illinois. I would now have to turn around and travel another three - a seven hour trip that took me to a location only three hours from my home. While trying to give a pleasant response, inside I seethed as I contemplated this senseless inconvenience.
Jan and I re-entered the car and started down the road. With each mile, my anger grew over the imposition this had caused me. Since I had grabbed a cassette tape before leaving home, after a few miles we decided to divert our thoughts by listening to it. I had no idea what it was going to be about. We listened with interest as a message unfolded about detours we have in life and how the Lord wants us to accept them without resistance. I began to feel like this tape had been planted in my car. The speaker went on to say we should consider detours a normal part of life.
As the message began to speak to my heart, Jan and I looked at each other, clearly recognizing that we were on a detour, a detour that was feeling more and more divinely appointed. In short order we decided that we needed to accept this detour with grace.
Further, we needed to forgive our new friends for their oversight. It took me a few minutes to adjust my thinking, but I quickly realized there would be no ministry at this retreat if I went with resentment in my heart.
Deciding to put aside my original fleshly response, I screeched my emotions to a halt and shifted gears making a decision to exercise God's grace in this situation. A warm feeling drifted through the car as we began to anticipate the fruit of the abounding grace we would now extend. Anger melted away as our opportunity to be gracious drew near.
Later in the evening, as we pulled into the new retreat location, the leaders sheepishly lavished us with many apologies. With sincere hearts, we smiled and granted complete forgiveness. We could do that because we were free...free from the bondage of anger and bitterness, free to teach and minister to the women in the power of the Spirit, free to forgive.
God had spoken to Jan and I through a taped message. Did He know that we would need to hear from Him on our trip? Was it a coincidence that we brought just the right tape along? God knew this test awaited us and allowed it to happen to provide an opportunity for right choices. Indeed, by the time we arrived at the retreat, we had already had our own retreat.
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