I'm not sure - probably not - but it's just possible that if there's a heaven on earth I might have stumbled into it this week. I'm at "Joni Camp" in Murrieta Hot Springs, California. The location for this Joni and Friends Family Retreat is Calvary Chapel Bible College's extremely lovely campus. Last night after we arrived I went to the "Roman Spa" where water from the hot springs flows into a gigantic mosaic-tiled hot tub. O, my goodness! How my sore muscles relished that treat!
The theme for this week of opportunity to serve as a "short term missionary" for Joni Eareckson Tada's ministry through Family Retreats is construction - as in "Extreme Make-Over." Our shirts say simply, "Let's Do It!" - just like the TV show. The verse on the back reads "I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me." (Phil. 4:13) This is big time stuff - the stuff of eternity! "Joni Camp" this week is all about the stuff of eternity built into individual hearts as God begins or continues his work of restoration one heart at a time.
Joni and Friends Family Retreats is a unique concept bringing willing servant volunteers together with persons and families affected by disability. For five days these special persons and families experience fun and rest under the umbrella of God's love in the hands, feet and care of volunteers (like me). I don't know if there's a "money back" guarantee, but it would be a totally safe offer.
I visited a Family Retreat last summer as an observer. I don't know that I have ever seen more of God's love in action than I did at Spruce Lake in Pennsylvania. I was amazed that so many (30 or more) families affected by disability could gather in one spot and all be "loved on" so well as God touched volunteers and participants alike with His redeeming love.
I remember being nervous last summer - wondering if I "knew" enough to face people with needs I didn't know much about, wondering how in the world this concept of Family Retreats could ever be put into action. What I learned then was that it's not about knowing - it's all about being and loving! It's a five-day living picture of what heaven truly will be like when God takes all of His "forever family" to live with Him. The big difference betweend heaven and now is that all our disabilities (whatever form they may take) will be healed forever in heaven. That's a promise! That's the best and most extreme make-over of all!