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Pastor Glenn McDonald: Lost Weekend

If you’re a high school youth group leader in Indiana, there’s one event every year that is guaranteed to be a hit.


Take a winter ski trip to Michigan!


It’s not that Michigan has a mountain range or world-class slopes. But it does sit far enough north to receive generous quantities of lake effect snow from the nearby Great Lakes.


Hoosier high school kids, at least a few decades ago, loved these trips. They often invited their friends. The atmosphere was exuberant.


Best of all, it was exhausting. After consecutive days of skiing, sledding, tubing, and snowball throwing, the kids would fall asleep almost as soon as their heads hit their pillows. If you’re the resident teacher, all you have to do is tuck them in at night with a brief but compelling Bible study.


Years ago we packed six dozen kids into a charter bus and headed north for our annual winter blast.


There was just one problem. 


As we approached that mid-February weekend, local meteorologists began to hint there might be a serious spike in warmth. We hoped, prayed, and kept our fingers crossed – all to no avail. By Friday the temps had topped 60 degrees. The snow was mostly a memory by the time we pulled into town.


That meant there was virtually nothing for us to do outside. Nothing. 


I ended up “winging” an entire indoor retreat. It was a total flop.


The bus ride home on Sunday evening was one of the most miserable experiences of my pastoral life. It had been a lost weekend – a wasted opportunity to impact lives.


A few years ago I ran into Mike, who had always been one of the quieter kids in our group. We began to reminisce about his high school days.


We laughed as we dredged up some of our favorite shared adventures. Then I winced as I remembered that February debacle in Michigan. “Boy, that sure was a disaster,” I sighed.


Mike stared at me, incredulous.


“You really don’t know, do you?” he said. “That was the weekend I gave my heart to Christ.”


God is always at work. 


Even when we don’t have eyes to see. 


And even when we think we have somehow ruined everything.


So do all that you can, bringing your very best to the table. 


Then trust the outcome to the One who’s really in charge.

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