William Shakespeare once said, “God has given you one face, [yet] you make yourself another.” I have trouble falling into the cycle of making my life all about God on Sunday mornings and Wednesday nights, and then making myself another “face” for all the other days of the week, which I feel is the case with many other Christians. It’s not that I consciously fall into the tendency, but it’s that I almost forget that God is a part of life on days that aren’t Sunday or Wednesday.
October is kind of a dry period in the school year— it’s not the start of the semester, it’s not the end of the semester; it’s just the endless routine of waking up, going to school, doing whatever extracurriculars are on my agenda for the day, sleeping, and repeating. Going into this year’s Youth Fall Retreat, I was beginning to acknowledge that not only was school life becoming dry, but my relationship with God was too. It’s so easy to look at God like just another part of a routine, fitting in before meals, before bed, before tests (or sometimes before the Cowboys game), etc. As the Friday of the retreat got closer, I was ready to escape the routine for a weekend, to experience God in worship a few times, and to have authentic discussions at night with my friends also attending. I was ready for my expectations to be met, so that I could carry on with life starting the following Monday with a few more good memories.
“So that I could carry on with life…” That’s so often our goal as Christians: to experience God, to fall in love with Jesus, to get emotional in worship, and then “carry on with life.” Is that God’s goal? I doubt it; but that was essentially my goal for church in the weeks leading up to the retreat. Once again, it’s not that I consciously set that goal, but I so often forget that God is in life outside the church doors.
The weekend of the retreat, KP brought down a longtime friend of his named Nathan. Friday night he spoke to us about the story of David and Goliath. “Sweet,” I thought. “This should be a feel-good story on how we’re like David and, like him, we can defeat whatever giants we may face in life.” But Nathan’s point in the story was that we are never David. We cannot defeat our giants. We can’t even face them! Not a feel-good story, huh? But isn’t that the beauty in it? Jesus is David. We’re just some plain-Jane, rough stones he puts in the river to smooth out so that he can use us, so that he can defeat our giants. So what’s our significance? All we have to do, day in and day out, is let Jesus put us in the river so he can use us to do the unthinkable. Needless to say, as rough stones can’t be smoothed when in the river on Sundays and Wednesdays, neither can we.
Saturday, Nathan gave us the story about Mary Magdelene going into Jesus’ empty tomb, and then she runs in to Jesus himself. “Oh, nice,” I thought. “A lesson about how, whether it surprises us or not, Jesus is always victorious.” Though that’s true, the lesson followed a different pattern. Mary had went to go see if Jesus was in the tomb, and when she’d seen he wasn’t there, walked out of the tomb and ran into him. She ended up mistaking him for a gardener. The savior of all mankind, a gardener at a tomb?! How’d she mix that up? I’d like to think I’d immediately recognize Jesus no matter where I saw him. But, Mary made a mistake that’s common to all of us: she was looking for life in a tomb, so she couldn’t see where life really was. Not necessarily a lesson about victory, huh? But it’s so real. What’s your tomb? What life are you looking for in place of Jesus’? I’d tried to find life in my routine. It was comfortable to know what the day had coming: waking up, going to school, doing extracurriculars, sleeping, repeating. I’d found comfort in trying to experience God on Sundays and Wednesdays.
This retreat was a good escape from everyday life. There were probably around 80 kids there (give or take), which blows my mind because at the last Fall Retreat there were probably 20 kids. Initially I was afraid that it’d be hard to keep up the family feel with this amount of people. But God proved that more people doesn’t mean the lack of a personal family, but the growth of a bigger personal family. That family played a bunch of Frisbee together, a bunch of ping-pong and foosball together, and a sick game of Gargoyle together. We even had some fun doing a cross-town scavenger hunt. We had a great speaker in Nathan and outstanding and intimate worship, led by Adam and the rest of the Vista band. There was singing, shouting, clapping, dancing, praying, crying, laughing— the whole variety. It was fun to dance and praise God! God is fun. He wants us to rejoice in his love. He wants us to feel free, and have fun in-so-doing.
In that escape, I saw that God doesn’t want to just be a part of our lives on Wednesdays and Sundays. He doesn’t even want to be a part of our lives any of the other days. He wants to be our lives. He wants to always be smoothing us out in the river, because we’ll always be a little rough on the edges, and he still always wants to use us to take down giants. He wants us to find him. He doesn’t want us to look for life in a tomb. It’s so easy to “make myself another face,” thinking that I can smooth myself out or find life where there’s none, or forgetting that I can’t smooth myself out nor find life in a tomb. This retreat, I saw that I keep trying and trying to make a face for myself based off of rough edges and tombs, but no matter if it’s Sunday or Wednesday, or Monday or Tuesday, or Thursday or Friday or Saturday, I don’t have to. God is my life.
God has given me a face. I just have to let it show.
Holla. (Which means “Amen” in the Vista Youth group.)
Logan Zwerneman is a senior in the Vista Youth group. He has been an active member and leader in many areas of the group, playing piano for the youth band, going on multiple mission trips, and leading small groups. He also serves with Vista|Kids on Sunday mornings. Logan runs cross country, is a champion at Ultimate Frisbee, and loves to remind people that Vista beat Mineola in Dodgeball at camp!!