Imagine a spiritual getaway.
Five teenagers of similar age attend this weekend getaway. The first attends mostly in apathy, urged and driven by his parents. The second attends in excitement and relief, a retreat from her difficult family life at home. The third attends in a mixture of anxiety and cautious optimism, desiring God yet unclear about his place in the group. The fourth attends in unhappy obedience to her demanding mother who wants her "involved" and "connected." The fifth attends in deep shyness, new to the area and to the group, having recently moved from another state.
The message of the spiritual getaway is as follows:
"You are here for a reason. God has brought each and every one of you here, and God does not act without purpose. God has a plan. God has a plan for you. God foreordained before all time that you would be here in this place at this very moment. Do not let God's plan pass you by! God loves you and his plan for you is as big as God's own dreams. He will use you to glorify himself, to minister to a hurting world, blessing you so that you might bless others. Live into God's plan for you; have faith that everything happens for a reason. Go out and do mighty things in God's good blessing!"
The first attendant leaves exuberant, apathy cured, ready to conquer in prosperity -- and indeed he does, graduating from seminary, becoming a popular pastor, starting a family, beloved by many.
The second attendant leaves similarly encouraged, poised to live into God's plan for her life -- until one night in college she wakes up to a strange man on top of her, and she is raped.
The third attendant leaves with decreased anxiety and a quietly booming optimism for the future -- and indeed he works his way through a business degree and starts his own company, hailed as a visionary success.
The fourth attendant leaves buoyed by hope in the promise that God her Father is in control -- she does her best, in faith, to succeed, but ultimately finds the doors slammed in her face, the applications rejected, and, dropping out of school to take care of her ailing (ungrateful) mother, she struggles to make ends meet as a single working mother of two.
The fifth attendant leaves satisfied merely to have found a potential community in this new place -- but on the drive home from the getaway, his parents' car swerves on a wet spot in the road and all three die instantaneously on impact with the concrete barrier.
Being the new family in town, nobody notices.