Now there are varieties of gifts, but the same Spirit; and there are varieties of services, but the same Lord; and there are varieties of activities, but it is the same God who activates all of them in everyone. To each is given the manifestation of the Spirit for the common good. – 1 Corinthians 12: 4-7
The night before last Saturday’s leader retreat I kept waking up as I thought of yet another item to add to my check list: power strip (check), bibles (check), retreat folders (check), speakers (check), guitar and songs books (check), remote control for the PowerPoint presentation (check), board games (check), recommended books (check). When I got to the office Saturday morning I loaded everything -- I thought -- into the van. Everyone arrived right at 8:00am. Perfect, I thought, we can get there on time too. As we entered our cars I was even excited about the pouring rain. To me, it made the day unique and special. If others were not feeling the same, they certainly didn’t show it. Positive attitudes, I thought to myself. I love that. We were ready to do this!
We arrived at close to 8:45am as planned, and quickly moved our retreat supplies into the large room that was reserved for us. Now that is one big advantage of going on a rainy day. Other less adventurous groups cancelled and we got the biggest room Serra Retreat had to offer! As folks were enjoying the delicious scones and coffee and other food brought by our church leaders, I set up my laptop, got my guitar tuned up, and was soon ready to start. Our Vision Momentum Team had prayed about this day and I was excited to see the day unfold. We worshipped together and then spent some time getting to know one another more deeply through small group sharing.
Then it happened. I was setting up my laptop, getting my Vision presentation ready when I realized something essential was missing….my laptop’s power cord. Oh no, I thought. It can’t be. I had packed my power strip, and so many other cords, how could I have forgotten this? I went up to the front office and asked if there might be a cord to borrow. They gladly offered some but not one of them was compatible. I was totally dependent on that power cord. I had to have it. Without it, my laptop would soon shut down and I would be unable to give the main presentation that this retreat was all about. Part of me was annoyed that I was so dependent on technology. The other bigger part of me was annoyed at the truth that I can be, well, um, how to put this, absent minded! To make this right it seemed there was only one option. I had to drive back to my house to get the cord. So I confessed to the group what I needed to do. Absolution was generously offered, but here is the thing…
That solution should have been unthinkable. It should have been unthinkable because I was leaving 20 people sitting around while I was about to go off in the wind and rain back to Mar Vista. It should have been unthinkable, but it wasn’t. It wasn’t unthinkable because others kindly offered to lead activities which we had planned to do later in the day. “Let’s adjust the schedule. We can do this!” they assured me. In the end it was not unthinkable because this retreat did not all depend on me – praise God. In fact, those activities, combined with the lunch hour that was fast approaching, gave me exactly enough time to drive home through the wind and rain and still return in time for lunch. All the way home and back I was giving thanks that this retreat was a group effort, and others had lent their gifts to make it happen. My dependency on other leaders and their dependency on me was indeed a blessing. It would be unthinkable to do church without them, and it would be unthinkable to do church without you. And... I’m adding “laptop power cord” to my checklist!