I went to a retreat last weekend. Lots of the typical retreat things happened, including that I had some God moments. I don’t know if that’s typical for everybody whenever they go on a retreat, but it is for me. Even so, I don’t necessarily go expecting God moments to happen. I wasn’t feeling particularly needy this past weekend, and it was a pretty low key event as far as retreats go, so I didn’t set my expectation of God moments too high. I was looking forward to the fellowship with church friends, always good and something I don’t spend as much time on as I have in the past, and that alone made it worth going. Plus, you can’t really expect God to do what you want him to do. He seems to like to surprise us. And I was surprised this weekend by God in a variety of ways.
One of the activities on the retreat was a series of prayer stations. At each station there were instructions to read a particular scripture and ponder its implications while doing a prescribed activity. At one of these stations, the scripture was 1 John 1:9 “If we confess our sins, he who is faithful and just will forgive us our sins and cleanse us from all unrighteousness.” The activity was to pray about sins and to list them on a dry erase board. Then to reread the scripture, ask forgiveness for each item on the list, and erase them one-by-one, trusting that they were now forgiven and gone. Sounded simple enough.
I was surprised at how effective this was for me. At first I didn’t think I had anything to list. I started writing anyway, listing some of my standard issues—you know, the things you seem to always have on the sin list. As I think back on that exercise, though, I’m surprised that I can’t remember what I wrote down. That’s a pretty good surprise. But what surprised me at the time was how emotional it was for me to erase the items on the list. I didn’t think any of them were that big a deal for me, but I was wrong. I had some baggage on there that needed to go. And erasing as I prayed was more than just an exercise in going through the motions. Erasing really helped me let them go.
So although we can’t always anticipate God moments, we can expect that he’ll do what he says he’s going to do. If we confess, he’ll forgive. And if we seek him with all our hearts, he’ll show up. And that’s pretty awesome no matter where or when it happens.