Rejoicing and sadness. Most of the time these two seemingly incompatible emotions are just that. We rejoice at good news, we are sad upon receiving bad news. But every so often these two emotions are felt at the same time. One such experience for me this past year was upon finding out that Beth and I were pregnant with our first child. We were absolutely overjoyed! But once an approximate due date was calculated, I felt a deep sadness. That sadness was realizing that I was not going to be able to attend what I think is the single most significant event we do each year: Chapter Retreat.
As expected, I was not able to attend the retreat this year, but God, not being dependent on my presence or abilities, still did amazing things in the lives of the nearly 100 students in attendance. When I realized that Beth and I should not expect to be there, I quickly phoned Rev. George Boomer, pastor of one of our supporting churches, Hope Presbyterian in Smithfield, filling him in on the situation and asking him to consider providing the teaching for the weekend. “Boomer,” as he is called by our students, has spoken at numerous of our Large Group meetings and is very well received by our fellowship. He agreed.
One of the most difficult things for this generation to understand is how God is our Father, and more specifically, how that is a good and desirable thing. When Boomer asked me what the students needed to hear, it didn’t take me long to ask him to consider crafting a weekend around the doctrine of Adoption. It is no doubt an INCREDIBLE thing when a person realizes that they are justified by faith alone in Christ alone. But we also need to know that we don’t live out the rest of our eternal life in the proverbial courtroom of God after we have been declared innocent by faith. We also need to hear “you are free to go,” and need to be reminded where it is that Scripture says that we go. Jesus said to his disciples, “In my Father’s house are many rooms….and if I go and prepare a place for you, I will come again and take you to myself, that where I am you may be also” (John 16:2-3). “What must I do to be saved?” (Acts 16:30), is certainly an important question. But we also need to know what Scripture means when it says that Jesus has redeemed us “so that we might receive adoption as sons” (Gal. 4:5).
As it turns out, Julian was born just a week before the retreat, so I was not able to attend save for a brief visit on Saturday. I was desperate to hear from my students how the retreat had gone and what God had done during it. To my delight I heard nothing but good news! What a needed message Boomer brought to an orphaned generation that so desperately needs to dwell on the truth that if we are in Christ then God is our adoptive Father, and one who has succeeded and been faithful where all of our earthly fathers have not! Praise God with us for the work he did that weekend. Every student that talked with post-retreat, from the babe-in-Christ to the more mature, were blessed richly. And praise God with us that I heard of two students who became followers of Jesus that weekend!!!