I’ve been coming to Inheritance of Hope Legacy Retreats for many years now. Sometimes I feel overwhelmed as families walk into the hotel, and I see all the desires that come in the door with them.
In the short-term, families want to figure out what to do with their luggage and get settled into their rooms (thankfully, we have a mob of volunteers to help them with that!). The kids may want a delicious DoubleTree cookie, or they may want their brother to stop poking them. They may desire to skip meeting all these new people and run straight to Disney World.
The parents may desire reassurance that their special requests have been granted -- Can they accommodate the special diet I’ve worked so hard to keep? Does the shower have a grab-bar I can hold with my left hand? They may have also have desires for their children -- I want my son to stop poking his sister. I don’t want these strangers to judge how they’re acting.
By the first group session, we see that desires go deeper than the short-term. The kids want to know what to do with sad and mad feelings. They wish they didn’t have so many worries. They wish they didn’t know the name of their parent’s illness.
The parents want to watch their kids and their grandkids grow up; they want to finish the job of parenting that they started when they signed on for 18 years. They want the right words to say or things to do so their kids will be okay. They wish they were here just for fun and not to talk about such hard things. They wish things were different.
Adele Ahlberg Calhoun, in the intro to her book, Spiritual Disciplines Handbook, says this:
I believe the desire for a different sort of life doesn’t appear out of thin air. The longing for something more, no matter how weak or crackling with heat, is evidence that God is already at work in your life. You wouldn’t want more of God if the Holy Spirit wasn’t first seeking you. It is the Trinity’s action within that fans the small flame of desire motivating us to “keep company” with Jesus. In fact, the very desire or desperation you feel can be God’s way of readying you to walk and work with Jesus. Take heart, transformation happens as you keep company with Jesus.
Jesus wants us to recognize that hidden in our desperations and desires is an appetite for the Lord and Giver of life. In fact, he says, “You’re blessed when you’ve worked up a good appetite for God. He’s food and drink in the best meal you’ll ever eat” (Matthew 5:6 The Message).
The very first thing Jesus asked his soon-to-be disciples was, “What do you want?” (John 1:37). Over and over again he asked about desires:
- “What is it you want?” (Matthew 20:21)
- “What do you want me to do for you?” (Matthew 20:32; Mark 10:36, 51)
- “Do you want to get well?” (John 5:6)
Jesus never attempts to shut down people’s longings; nor does he ask people to transcend their longings as some religions do ... Jesus doesn’t grant requests like a genie in a bottle. He works with people, allowing their desires to draw him into the core conversations of life ... Learn from Jesus as he keeps company with people who want something. Watch him attend to the hole in their heart that is bigger than the galaxy.
It’s my prayer for us, on Legacy Retreats, that we would not try to shut down people’s longings, but recognize that the desire that things would be different (in our own hearts and the hearts of the families we serve) is because we’re made for more than this life. I pray for superhuman strength and energy as we serve families and one another. I pray that we would find courage to connect with people even when it’s awkward or challenging. And most of all, I pray that we would keep company with Jesus throughout any retreat, and invite our new friends into the conversation with joy that comes from knowing that the Holy Spirit is at work, and He has brought us all together to attend to the hole in our hearts that is only filled by Him.
Meg Hill is a Licensed Professional Counselor, working as a School Counselor at an elementary school in Raleigh, NC. She has been a counselor for over 13 years, and she has worked as a middle school and high school counselor as well. Meg has been involved in Inheritance of Hope since its beginning, and she cannot count how many Legacy Retreats® she has been on. (She tries to avoid doing math whenever possible!) Meg and her husband, David, have 2 daughters: Ella and Janie.