So we had a reunion of my 1970’s-era Church youth group and the leaders who served there. It was a full 40 years since we had last met to worship together in the front of the sanctuary. The memories of mission trips, retreats, and life transforming moments all came flooding back. And I learned a few things that are best passed along both as a cautionary tale and as encouragement to call an old friend.
Three things I learned at my youth group reunion:
Photos have improved dramatically. If there is an evolution of photography, the 70’s certainly was the lowest point in the journey. Even tintypes had more clarity than the reddish tinged blurry snapshots and Polaroid images of our Afros and bell-bottoms. The film packs with 12 exposures assured a sparse photo album with very weak content.
60 is not the new 30. It’s not.
People really don’t change. Each of us had grown up (mostly) and each had grown older (as we sat down to dinner, my husband asked when the youth group was going to show up) but the person was the same. We are who we are. We are still who we were. Even after all the years of school, and careers, and kids, and heartache, and celebration, the precious inner person, who was only briefly a teenager, was all still intact. And I love those people! It was the re-connection with the sacred essence of unique person-hood that was irresistible.
The notion that God knows the true me and loves me anyway is still “blowing my mind” (that was a clear 70’s reference, just go with it). In King David’s words, “It’s too wonderful.” He wraps it up in Psalm 139:
God, investigate my life;
get all the facts firsthand.
I’m an open book to you;
even from a distance, you know what I’m thinking.
You know when I leave and when I get back;
I’m never out of your sight.
You know everything I’m going to say
before I start the first sentence.
I look behind me and you’re there,
then up ahead and you’re there, too—
your reassuring presence, coming and going.
This is too much, too wonderful—
I can’t take it all in!
… Like an open book, you watched me grow from conception to birth;
all the stages of my life were spread out before you,
The days of my life all prepared
before I’d even lived one day. Psalm 139, The Message
Each of us from the moment of conception is a unique person whom God loves and for whom Christ died. We have a purpose, a plan, and a destiny that only we can fulfill. 40 years has a way of revealing the awesome truth that we can be loved for who we are and that the changes and challenges of life never mar the image of God infused in each of us.
Call an old friend and enjoy the weekly hike.