On our most recent youth trip we stayed two nights in a lake cabin owned by Jamie’s friend. She and her husband were kind and generous to allow our group to stay there. Even with three beds in each of the bedrooms and three couches in the living room, we were a big enough group that two boys slept on the floor.
Before we left the cabin, everyone joined in the cleaning and straightening we wanted to do because we had been treated so well, and blessed to sleep inside a house rather than on the ground in tents. Floors were swept and washed, sinks cleaned, rugs shaken, carpet vacuumed, rooms straightened, the fire pit, dock, and sauna cleaned up. Then we formed a long line and walked through the yard picking up every bit of paper or wrappers we might have left. We had been guests in the home of another, and we were grateful.
The next night we spent in cabins at Itasca, with room for everyone. The cabins were nice, and we enjoyed our night in them also. But when we moved out, the beds were unmade, the floors were not swept, and the bathrooms remained as the last person had left them. Because we paid for those cabins, we assumed the same people who had cleaned them before us would clean up after us.
I’ve been wondering how you or I understand the lives we are living in this world. Do we assume that this is God’s world where we are guests, encouraged to feel at home by One who has made room for us? Or have we paid for our place, and so are able to use it and assume someone will clean up when we’re gone?
Is God more like Jamie’s friend who was present to welcome us, help us, and encouraged us to feel at home: or is God the absent landlord we assume is there somewhere, like at Itasca? And how is it the same people can see our situation so differently in the space of 24 hours?
What a gift these youth trips can be. And with what challenges and questions can we be presented not only while a part of them, but also once we’re home.