by David White
“It’s a weekend retreat,” my parents said, urging both my wife and I to join. With our busy schedules as first year elementary and middle school teachers, we hesitated to say yes. After some thought, we decided it wouldn’t be half bad to get away for a weekend. Little did I know, I was saying yes to an experience that would shape a lifetime.
The first night of the retreat was led by Cathy Hardy – a musician with a remarkable ability to usher those around her into the presence of God. In the first evening session she asked a simple question, “What are you longing for?” She asked us to speak out what we desired. The mood was set in a beautiful candlelit room. A few began to speak out single words describing their heart’s longings. Without even thinking, I blurted out the word “recognition” and soon after was overwhelmed with embarrassment. As other “nobler” more “Christian” words were spoken like wisdom, love and Jesus; there I sat very uncomfortable because I just revealed my deepest desire. As I sat in anguish, I thought about all the words in my mental dictionary. I thought of the beautiful longings and desires I do have, and the only word I could think to say was that one? Recognition? What?!? How prideful and selfish I looked! I could just feel all of the eyes looking at me and thinking, “Wow kid, what are you doing here?” I felt ashamed.
As I sat there pondering the word recognition, I felt the sense to lie down. As the evening progressed with soaking music, it was a good time to start a conversation with myself, and with God. “Do I really desire to be recognized? Lord, what does this mean? Am I just prideful to the core? What do other people think of me now?” As I was chewing on these thoughts a peace fell over me; a peace I cannot describe in writing. I opened my eyes and found a book next to me. It was titled Invited by Lorie Martin. I opened it to a random page and read these words – You are invited to the table with Jesus Christ…this means that you are recognized, recognized as somebody, recognized as a person, you are wanted, and you are seen and accepted by the King.
At that moment I was blown away. I now began to see a deeper and more symbolic definition of the word recognized. Joy welled up in my heart. A picture came to my mind- Jesus was walking through a small town and all of the people were out trying to get his attention. They wanted to touch Him, they wanted Him to heal them. In all of the commotion, Christ turns His gaze upon me. He sees me. The King of the universe recognizes me.