I had the privilege this past weekend of teaching at a youth retreat with Omaha Bible Church. This was a good providential reminder that I am getting old. These kids were unbelievable, just nonstop energy, from before dark in the am to well past dark in the pm, going, going going.
I found myself retreating regularly to the air conditioned room to study and rest, while the kids ran around in the 100+ degree heat like they had just downed a six pack of Red Bull and a king sized box of Nerds.
A funny thing happened on this retreat, I learned of how much I depend on my wife. She stayed in Omaha with the three youngest kids due to the heat. So I packed my own stuff. So to me it was important that I had my Bible, my laptop, some books, my running shoes, change of clothes and my sunglasses. Well that is about all I packed. I conveniently forgot my pillow, sleeping bag, a towel, and extra socks. Fortunately my 11 year son packed my toothbrush and toothpaste for me. I was a mess. This was a good lesson to be reminded of how much my wife does for me and how blessed I am.
This was particularly driven home on the first night when the air conditioner was turned to the “Arctic” setting and I shivered on my mattress with my head propped up on my gym bag perfectly stuffed with running shorts and t shirts. In the middle of the night just prior to loosing a limb from frost bite I got smart and covered myself with my extra clothes and socks, this aided a solid 10 minutes of sleep. Man I love my wife.
I would love to talk about the retreat but don’t have a ton of time here. We studied Heaven, Hell, & Jesus; which for me is about as fun and exciting as asking a Redneck to talk about turning left and the benefits of sleeveless T-shirts. It was awesome.
The kids listened well and were challenged about their desire to go to heaven because of the terror and dreadfulness of the alternative (hell) verses the joyful longing to go to heaven because God is there and he is worshiped there, because God desires and enjoys worship. The heaven of heaven is not the streets of gold, but instead the heaven of heaven is the presence and worship of God! We also talked about the necessity of hell to punish eternal sin with God’s eternal anger. The kids listened close as we discussed the unspeakable pain and relentless torture that occurs as God’s anger is poured out on those who refuse to worship him.
Finally we talked about Jesus as the only one who was willing and able to rescue from hell; even, the one who became a man to live and die for sinners that he might make worshippers for God. We talked about justification and the power of the cross. The kids were tracking even after 26 hours of high paced activity and 6 hours of sleep.
At the end of the day my prayer is that they remember the teaching more than the games and that the truth of Jesus Christ, the sin bearing substitute brings them joy and peace in believing, as they become like Timothy, not only knowing something, but actually becoming “convinced” of its truth!! (2 Tim. 3.14)
It is good to recoup a bit today while being reminded that I cannot hang with kids without being exhausted and needing a retreat from the retreat.
Enjoy the reality of grace!