It’s just a little past 6:00PM on Thursday, August 28, and we are finally off on the long awaited Staff Retreat. Finally? Yes, finally because we were scheduled to leave at 3:55PM sharp. Instead of traveling to Northwoods Michigan, Mr. Gothard modified this year’s plans for the annual IBLP Staff Retreat to go down south, stopping at the Creation Museum for a day before attending Andy and Amanda Warner’s wedding in Bristol, Tennessee.
But though we were two hours late, this setback was in the Lords plan! Nobody could fix the problem with the bus, even the jolly mechanic who selflessly came to our aid. So, we cried out to the Lord for deliverance. It’s a simple thing to do but takes a lot of discernment first, and then faith. Well, very soon after, the mechanic came up with an idea which, after being carried out, proved to be the solution to our problem! I think this was a great witness to our gracious, yet unbelieving, mechanic.
But that wasn’t the only reason why God allowed the trip to get started late. Now it’s around 9:00 and everyone is ready for a rest stop, and some ice-cream. When Mr. Gothard walks into the Dairy Queen, the manager behind the counter instantly recognizes him and joyfully greets him. A year earlier, Mr. Gothard had witnessed to her and given her a book on resolving stress. Since then, she trusted Christ as her Savior, followed many of the steps given in the book, and was now happier than ever before. Unplanned by us, that little reunion was a reminder that God is in control of the schedule.
Late the next morning, we once again piled into the bus. Thankfully, there weren’t any problems. We headed to Hebron Kentucky, home of the increasingly celebrated Creation Museum. I was feeling very curious yet a little apprehensive. After all, it was a Christian endeavor which sometimes comes with substandard quality. Well, after taking in a full 8 hours of that fascinating place, I was thoroughly convinced that this was more than just an ordinary museum! I didn’t know such professionalism, truth, and creativity existed together! Psalm 33:4-9 rang true in my soul as we left: "For the word of the Lord is right; and all His works are done in truth. He loveth righteousness and judgment: the earth is full of the goodness of the Lord. By the word of the Lord were the heavens made; and all the host of them by the breath of His mouth. He gathereth the waters of the sea together as an heap: He layeth up the depth in storehouses. Let all the earth fear the Lord: let all the inhabitants of the world stand in awe of Him. For He spake, and it was done; He command, and it stood fast."
It is now Saturday. But we are all dressed in our Sunday best because of the wedding in the afternoon. We travel a few hours through the beautiful Blue Ridge countryside before arriving at the quaint town of Bristol. The church is enormous and spectacular; I probably took more pictures of the building than of the actual wedding! But that is only me; there are plenty of professional photographers around making sure the momentous occasion is adequately covered. And what a momentous occasion it was! The stories of both Andy and Amanda give testimony that God truly was the instigator of this joyful union.
Now it’s Sunday. But we are in our Saturday clothes because we will be traveling all day. For the morning service, Mr. Gothard gave a good message on the courage of Nehemiah. There’s a lot of time to read the Bible and other books like the one I’ve almost finished: "God’s Smuggler" by Brother Andrew; if you haven’t read it yet, your missing out! It’s a good time to fellowship and
discuss deep issues. We conclude the day at Cracker Barrel… and one more person is added to the body of Christ; a waitress who just so happened to have the same name as the DQ manager we met at the beginning of our trip! God truly has been at work in our midst.
It’s been a long day. It’s been a long trip. But every aspect of it was God glorifying. We have seen the Lord at work. We have given, and we have received. And that is the conclusion of the IBLP Staff Retreat.