Ah yes. Oreos. With double the white stuff in the middle. How come no one ever thought of that before? Wait, am I off track? Yes... well, we have returned from a 'Rachel: Lost and Found Performance' in Tampa. We traveled the Sunshine Skyway (beautiful!) to get to St Patrick's Church in south Tampa, and arrived with plenty of time to unpack. The stage was a cute little stage, still set up in the Hollywood theme from a school performance a few weeks ago. In fact, from the entire ceiling hung large silver stars, glittering in the light. The stars got to stay, but the faux brick wall backgrounds gave way to a large chalkboard, and a few chairs and tables. We travel lightly with Rachel, so beyond shuffling tables and constructing a makeshift dressing room, we were good to go. There weren't that many people there, but it was a good mix of all ages, from middle school through highschool and adult. A few of the small group leaders afterwards reported some good discussions, although the response wasn't has strong as we had hoped for. Its a humbling experience to realize that all success is in God's hands, no matter how hard we try. At a certain point, only God knows what effects our words may have in the future. And thats what we all have to hold on to: the knowledge that God works all thing unto good. Even if the present circumstances we are in seem dark, there is always something to look forward to. Even if there seems to be no way out of the temptations of peer pressure in our schools - temptations to drugs, alcohol, and unchastity, there is something very worthwhile just out of sight.
Which brings me back to the oreos: if you had a huge ginormous double-stuffed oreo to your right and a bunch of little tiny so-called "fun-size' oreos to your left, which would you choose? Well, the big one is surely better. Why take the little sensual pleasures now, if you can just wait a little more for a greater good? To put it another way, why would a martyr choose a painful death rather than easy life, if all she has to do is throw a little incense to false gods? Why do I or anyone of you care about saying no if we are asked to take a drag or have a drink or sleep with someone? Whats the big deal with just having fun, about worrying about our clothes and friends? We aren't bad people... right? Well, maybe those things are fun-sized (at least, people call them fun-sized, when really we all know that they would be a lot more fun if they were twenty times as big) but they aren't the best we can get. In the Bible, Jesus calls us to be perfect "as the Heavenly Father is perfect." This doesn't mean we've blown our chance at perfection if we fall into sin or give in to those nagging temptations, but it does mean that we are asked to try to imitate Jesus and Mary and the saints and live the way they did. But first we have to know who they are. We have to read the lives of the people we call saints because they lived in the same world we live in and practiced heroic virtue. We have to read the Bible to know what Jesus said we have to do and to know what He promises us in return. We are promised something amazing, an eternity (think about that one: eternity. Forever and ever and ever. No end. On and on and on.) of happiness with a God who loves us unconditionally in exchange for a few short seconds here on earth. No matter how long middle school or highschool lasts, it will end. Will you look back on it and see how many missed opportunities you had to get to know the God you will spend eternity with? How many "fun-sized" oreos did you waste your time with when all you had to do was look around the corner to find that humongous, mammoth, spectacular Double Stuff Oreo?