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This is a long one!!
Have you ever had things change in your life and wonder why? Have you ever been disappointed with a situation and then find that it actually led to something you never expected? Here is my most recent example of this.
Every year for the last seven years we have held a marriage weekend entitled “You’re Still The One.” Although each venue we have held it in has been very good …and sometimes outstanding in terms of accommodations, food and service, we have been unable to maintain a continuing relationship with any one facility, mostly due to increasing costs. (It seems after they get you in the first year they want to increase the cost per couple by at least $100, which we find unacceptable). Thus, this year, we were once again in search of a new facility, one that was attractive, comfortable, easy to navigate, had good food and was cost effective. We were ruling out the very high end and the very low end. We considered holding the weekend in our church gym but came to the conclusion that being away, off campus and away from immediate distractions really does serve the couples best and makes it a more special time. After a lot of discussion, research and prayer we decided on holding the “You’re Still The One” weekend at Spruce Lake Lodge and Retreat Center in Pennsylvania. (An email with the pertinent information will be sent out to you today). The Spruce Lake Lodge is a brand new and exceptional facility with hotel style rooms, a great meeting room and very good food. Spruce Lake is located in a gorgeous setting in the woods, with the peace of God pervading the grounds. We are very happy with this choice and believe you will be too. (And it will cost over $150 less than last year!).
We never would have even heard of Spruce Lake had it not been for the fact that the retreat center where we have been holding our Church Family Retreat for the last 15 years had to cancel our reservations less than two months before our scheduled retreat. I freely admit this caused quite a bit of disconcertion and anxiety and left us having to scramble to find an alternate location for the retreat. (Canceling it was the very last option). We made many phone calls and looked up many different facilities when one night a friend (Steve Lucas) suggested we check out Spruce Lake. We wound up having our Church Family Retreat there last weekend. It was a fantastic time and everyone loved the facility. While we were there we felt God confirming that this was the place to hold this year’s marriage weekend. Looking back, I wonder if our initial retreat center did not have to cancel if we would still be searching for a place to hold our marriage retreat. We certainly would not be holding it at Spruce Lake, it would not have even been on our radar.
Another thing we like about the Spruce Lake Lodge and Retreat Center is that they have the same value for marriage that we do. They feel strongly that in addition to holding camps and retreats for groups and churches throughout the year, that God wants to use their retreat center to be used to help marriages. For them, the bottom line is not about making money (although it helps if they want to stay in business!). The other hotels we visited and researched have money as THE bottom line. They are not invested in marriages or ministry, they are invested in keeping their business profitable. It is a business so I understand it and don’t begrudge them. However, it was the behavior of one individual that crystallized the difference between a secular business and a Christian ministry…that showed me just how different the value and missions are. We visited one potential hotel where we thought we might hold the marriage weekend. In order to protect the innocent let’s just call the hotel “Worst Eastern.” The representative from “Worst Eastern” (who is just one individual and not representative of the rest of the hotel staff or any of the other hotel sales people we have met over the years) showed us around his hotel and sat us in the office to discuss what our needs were and what kinds of packages they could offer. To put it bluntly, he was rude, crude and disrespectful. So much so that before he was done with his presentation I secretly texted Susan with this pointed message… “NO!”. I didn’t even need him to show us any more of the hotel…He could have offered it for free and we never would have accepted. We are far more interested in holding our marriage weekend at a facility where you know the staff is praying for you and working hard to make sure that every couple is being ministered to.
Sometimes what seems so bad turns out so good. Just ask Joseph (Genesis 37 -50). Sometimes having the best the world has to offer just doesn’t compare to the love the people of God have to offer. Sometimes behind the darkness there is light just waiting to burst through. (I will write more about that next week.)
What do you think?
How does this make you feel?