There was also another part of it that is just as important. I know that one of the reasons for doing retreats like this is to spend time with God. To seek Him, and delight in Him. I was challenged and encouraged as He kept reminding me that He does not want to leave me as I am. Our teachings were from the first epistle of John, and there was so much in just the first couple of verses to keep me busy and meditating on it all for a long time.
"He that saith he abideth in him ought himself also so to walk, even as he walked." - I John 2:6I recently heard a pastor say that the reason we don't do great things like Jesus did is because we don't walk like Jesus did. And well... I have no idea if raising the dead, or walking on water can become part of my repertoire, but... what if I did more walking like Jesus waked? What would that change in my life? I dare say and think that there would be big differences that I am willing and ready to see in my life. I'm so happy that God leads us gently and practically, and that He shows us the things that He would like us to do differently, or the things that He would like us to get rid of.
"This then is the message which we have heard of him, and declare unto you, that God is light, and in him is no darkness at all."- I John 1:5
Another reminder/warning I got was that if I say that I love God but I hate my brother, I am a liar... and I got this right after telling someone that sometimes I just wished fire would come down from heaven and consume some folks. I know, way to show some love... Mind you I was telling her that I felt kind of troubled by such thoughts. But then John says...
"But if we walk in the light, as he is in the light, we have fellowship one with another, and the blood of Jesus Christ his Son cleanseth us from all sin." I John 1:7
"He that loveth his brother abideth in the light, and there is none occasion of stumbling in him. But he that hateth his brother is in darkness, and walketh in darkness, and knoweth not whither he goeth, because that darkness hath blinded his eyes." - I John 2:10-11
I have wondered why on earth I would wish fire to come down on people and the truth is that, it is not only a lack of love, but it is also my fear of them. The feeling that they are much bigger than me, that I cannot do any good in their midst... on the contrary they would consume me! So, it is much easier to not have them around. But then again I am so happy for these next verses...
"There is no fear in love; but perfect love casteth out fear: because fear hath torment. He that feareth is not made perfect in love." I John 4:18-19
Perfect love casteth out fear; I find that really encouraging, because there are a lot of things that I fear in life from time to time. The older I get it seems the more fears I come across... but that's ok if I can remember that perfect love casteth out fear.
Now, here is a really nice thing about all this as well... when I read books in the Bible I don't really think much about the authors in general. As I flipped through I John I just thought about how John was warning the people with so much love and gentleness and how he kept stressing the importance of love and loving each other... but then as I flipped a bit further and got to Revelation, which is also written by John, I read a little note I had scribbled next to the title. "John the one who asked Jesus to call down fire from heaven. Love changed him."
"And when his disciples James and John saw this, they said, Lord, wilt thou that we command fire to come down from heaven, and consume them, even as Elias did? But he turned, and rebuked them, and said, Ye know not what manner of spirit ye are of. - Luke 9:54-55
The Apostle John, who along with his brother were surnamed sons of thunder by Jesus, were full of zeal, but it wasn't always directed toward love. I'm happy to have an example of someone that was changed by love, because that encourages me to let the love of God change me as well. I know it's easier said than done... but all things are possible in Christ Jesus our Lord.
"In this was manifested the love of God toward us, because that God sent his only begotten Son into the world, that we might live through him. Herein is love, not that we loved God, but that he loved us, and sent his Son to be the propitiation for our sins. Beloved, if God so loved us, we ought also to love one another." - I John 4:9-11
This is not a resent picture, but it was taken during a picnic with church friends by a river. This is a my daughter with one of her favourite friends. As you can tell she was feeling just fine and happy... but right now little miss Sunshine is in trouble for tearing a piece of mommy's Bible cover and chewing on it. But let's walk in the light as He is in the light...