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  • Writer's pictureSue Bowles

Still Don’t Have the Answer

There are times when I find myself staring into space. Today has been one of those days. I know my mind is processing things when that happens. The thing is…I don’t always know what those things are.

I had breakfast last week with my dear friend Ann. We’ve known each other since our days as youth leaders in the 90s. We were in the same worship band leading hundreds of teens in worship at a week long conference. We have reconnected since she moved back to Ohio from Florida last year. She is one I could be ‘real’ with long before the retreat last October.

I had not seen her since the retreat and had not had opportunity to share with her about it….until last week. We sat in that restaurant for 2 hours enjoying catching up and after a while she just said ‘OK. Tell me all about it.’ And I shared with her the same way I have with anyone else who has been kind enough to listen…I simply share my retreat journal.

I was so touched by Ann. I KNOW she was genuinely interested. I know her heart beats for the things of the Lord. She shared my joy…my wonder…my awe…as she heard the Lord working through the things I shared. She wiped tears. And at the end she simply described it this way: ‘this is truly a holy place.’ Yep – Bob Evans…a holy place…because God visited.

But what I love even more about Ann is that she also looks forward to the application…the next step. I was starting to share with her about things I saw different in me since the retreat and after I was done she wiped more tears and simply said ‘that answers my question. I was going to ask how this is being played out in the day to day now.’ And then she gave the ultimate review: ‘This was more than just a retreat.’

“MORE THAN JUST A RETREAT.” What a powerfully succinct summary.

And here I sit watching football on New Year’s and I find myself pondering. I listened to an old Rich Mullins recording on YouTube and the piano playing just drew me in…or away…the stare into space returned. I thought back on 2014. I thought about the retreat. And I thought about how much I’ve talked about it since. And I found myself again trying to answer the question: “What is it about that retreat? What is it that happened? How do I capture it for others who are still scratching their heads or may be getting tired of hearing me talk about it because they still don’t have an idea of what I’m trying to convey?”

And here’s the best answer I came up with: I still don’t have the answer.

How does one describe sight after being blind? How does one describe hearing after being deaf? How does one describe feeling your heartbeat after having a transplant?

There are no words. And I think I just have to be content with that. It’s something that has to be seen. It’s my coworker seeing a twinkle in my eye. It’s Amy seeing a smile that won’t go away with a peace driving it. It’s Ann seeing the glow on my face even through tears. It’s Brian knowing things have changed even after being tested.

I’m starting down the path of applying the lessons of the retreat to the hard places in my life right now. It’s not easy. AT ALL! I’m back to having confusion and questions and frustrations…not so much doubt…but questions that I need to resolve that will lead me back to my base: Jesus Christ loves me and is absolutely crazy about me. It’s uncomfortable. It’s challenging. It’s…it’s…..I’m not sure what it is. Because it’s just starting and my head is spinning a bit and I’m still trying to get my bearings. There is much to process. But it is a worthwhile adventure. Because at the beginning…..and in the end….and in the in-betweens….I’ll experience the ‘reckless raging fury that they call the love of God.’

I wish it was a nice little package with the answer key all filled in. But it’s not. I don’t have the answer yet. I don’t know when I will. I don’t know IF I will. But I do know this….I’m a Ragamuffin, I’m still learning what that means, and I’m happy to share my experiences and journey with you if you’d like to come along. And together…maybe we’ll figure out an answer or two…and maybe not. But we’ll see Christ at work along the way. That alone is worth the price of admission.

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