Exhausted, cramped, and more than a little grouchy, I clambered out of the car and allowed my gaze to roam through the trees, giving me a favorable impression of Ross Point Camp, the retreat center that I had driven ten hours to see and attend. My 16-month-old was still complaining quite loudly about his discomfort, as he had been for most of the trip, so my mental exploration was cut short as I rescued him from his carseat with more efficiency than grace and gentleness. Alright, we’re here. Let’s just get inside and get this thing over with, already, I thought to myself.
Starting out the retreat with an attitude like that did not bode well for the remaining days. I confess that I was neither excited to be there, nor optimistic for what I could learn. Isn’t it great though, when God works in us, despite us?! By most standards, nothing went right for the whole trip. My son screamed most of the drive there, while we navigated detours for accidents and construction. He didn’t sleep for two straight nights, which kept most of our other cabin-members awake, too. I missed two sessions in order to let Davy nap and found out later that they were some of the best ones! It even rained/hailed much of the time. I kept wondering why God brought me there at all. Yet, in the midst of all that stress and chaos, despite my poor attitude and exhaustion, God met with me.
During one of the breaks, Davy and I went for a long walk around the camp. The river was gorgeous, and I loved listening to the wind whistle through the pines. I began to praise God and thank Him. Silently and gently, the Holy Spirit spoke to my heart there. I began to think over some of the things the speaker had been saying, things that I was sure would never sink in past my weariness. Points that I hadn’t understood began clicking in my mind, and I saw, for a brief moment, the big picture of my trip there. It wasn’t about the teaching, per-say, though that was certainly worth hearing. Nor did I need to get to know my co-workers better, though I’m glad I did. Indeed, for me, the trip wasn’t about the trip at all! It was simply a vehicle God used to teach me about attitude. Just as I had pouted and grumped my way through most of the retreat, I realized that, in a measure, I had pouted and grumped through things here, at the church.
Now don’t get me wrong, I love my job, and I love this church! But I also like doing things my way. I mean, don’t we all? I don’t always agree with everything that happens behind the scenes. It’s easy to think Oh, this way would be more efficient. Or It would be more comfortable for me if they did it like that. But in that moment, I was forced to come face to face with how my heart attitude could make or break my ministry here, just as it affected how much I could learn at that camp.
That day, I resolved to not let my attitude slow down God’s work. I am even more committed to supporting Tim and Chris and all the elders in their work towards our common goal, regardless of whether it’s comfortable for me. At the end of the day, they are answerable to God for the way they lead this church. I am only responsible for how I support them and obey God’s call for me, here and now. It’s all about Him; I am just a tool in His hands. I am so glad God confronted me with this now, because I firmly believe He is doing and will continue to do great things at First Baptist Church of Port Angeles, and I am determined not to give the devil a foot-hold in my life and in this church but, instead, to build up pastors, elders, and members, alike, with prayer, love, and whole-hearted enthusiasm that I can trust God to renew in me every day.