God is good. All the time. These phrases ran through my head every moment of this past weekend’s retreat. This past weekend was my first AACF retreat and there are just so many things to be thankful for and tell everyone about. There are three main things that I want to write down here for anyone who cares to read, but more importantly a reminder to myself of God’s great glory.
The majority of us go to a retreat with almost an identical mindset. Let’s learn from a great speaker, let’s pray for each other, let’s build relationships, and let’s take something away from it. I, myself have been a part of and witnessed when we go to retreat for a weekend and when we come back, it looks as though nothing has changed. What is the point of going away for a weekend if it only feels like a fantasy-world, or something apart from reality? Is God not real? Does God not exist in our daily walks, and right now at this moment? It’s hard to truly go to a retreat and leave changed. I have experienced this myself and no stranger to how I fail to grasp anything from a retreat. This past weekend was, for a lack of a better word, monumental. I lied, I do have better words: influential, quintessential, an eclectic experience.
The whole lot of us leave a retreat unchanged. When the very night before can be filled with praises of our Lord and Savior, and the next morning we return to our lives going through the motions and just doing the same-ole-thing. I wish everyone could experience what I did this past weekend, but I hope that God will work through these words to touch your heart. I wouldn’t write about how amazing God is if it wouldn’t influence others. Our words have so much weight, our prayers have so much power, and our actions can change the world.
Through my experiences of retreat, this past one had me filled with a lot of different feelings and thoughts. Skepticism ran through my mind at least a few times, gratefulness ran through me the whole time, encouraged through peoples actions, but ultimately GOD’s movement in our lives!
First off, everyone getting to retreat safely was so amazing. Driving can turn into such a disaster if someone loses attention for just a second, so that focus was spectacular. AACF had a prayer meeting right before the retreat and I could see how prayer does SO SO SO much. God answers our prayers if we ask, and when we pray, we move. The prayer meeting was so uplifting and it brought us together. Leadership prayed with sincerity and humility, and you know what? GOD ANSWERS. As you can tell, I really enjoyed praying with ALL of you. I was so uplifted just at the beginning of the pastor’s message when he talked about how Hannah in 1 Samuel prayed so much for a child even though she was barren. She even has a section called HANNAH’S PRAYER. Come on guys, we go through a daily life with so many blessings, but we only thank God for major outcomes. This comes around to the person who gets mad at a red light, but is never thankful for a green one.
The first message alone was so applicable to ALL of our lives. How many of us can say we DON’T turn apathetic from time to time. We go through our daily lives giving God only a couple minutes when He should have it all. Sure, we all have our priorities, but I truly believe that if we focus on God, then we can learn so much. I don’t want to just ramble about what I learned, but it’s good to remember what we went over. One thing that stood out is how our apathetic hearts grows constantly when we’re not in Him. How a simple sin could keep growing, how when we grow lazy, we tell ourselves we can just do it tomorrow. Or how a sin that we succumb to continuously jades us into believing it’s not that bad. Apathy is such a strong weapon Satan uses against us in order to sell our hearts to the world.
Not only did I build such great relationships with everyone, but I was able to work on my relationship with God. The first night, we were all thrown into prayer, and as much as I was skeptical about some things, I needed that time with Him, and I needed that time to pray for other people. God moves so much when we pray and sometimes I forget how important prayer truly is. Prayer simply flew out of my mouth for each person and for myself. I felt a joy in my heart that only God can provide and God reminded me with a slap across the face how prayer should be in our hearts always.
1) The importance of prayer. Hannah prayed for a child and God blessed her with Samuel. She even made a promise to God that Samuel would be entirely His. Then Hannah proceeds to say a prayer to God that is so profound and so thankful that I was reminded about how we need to be thankful. We need to pray on a constant basis with a sincere heart. We need to pray to the point where our Spirit works in us, where the words can’t even come out because we’re overcome with God.
2) The importance of confession. IT HEALS. We bottle up so many things in our daily lives that we just put it in the darkest recesses of our minds and forget about them. God wants us to confess our sins and be healed through prayer! Gosh, that one night was so beautiful. So so beautiful that I lost words to say when it happened. We, as a body of Christ, are called to be there for one another and pray for each other. We are able to heal one another because God uses us. God calls us to be his hand and feet, so let’s serve one another.
3) The importance of community. We grow. Retreat is a place where we can just get together and learn more about one another. But more importantly, the people in our lives are able to help us and encourage us. Pray for one another because as you have all witnessed at retreat, we move. We can heal one another, we can uplift one another, we can bring each other up. You know how beautiful it is to see people who barely know each other, pray for each other with so much love and sincerity. Come on, Jesus made us so beautifully, and called us to be His servants.
4) Actually, I thought of another thing, and this is by far the most important out of everything. THE GOSPEL. Yes, God sent His one and only Son, who was so pure, while we are such sinners, and died for us. Can any of us grasp the enormity of this event? Can we recognize how powerful this moment was? God made us to love us, and because of our own sinful desire, we fell away. But, because we were constantly struggling with sin, Jesus came to die on the cross to bear all the weight of the world on His shoulders. ALL OF IT. He died for us because He loved us so much. He made us to be beautiful and because He died for us, we were all made perfect. In God, we are all perfect, and through his eyes, we are ALL beautiful. We, as humans, judge so much, and put so much weight on appearance, but God made us all beautifully. =D.
I’m praying not only for myself, but for everyone. So much glory in God and I hope God speaks to you. I want everyone to know that retreat isn’t a getaway, but a place in our DAILY walks where we can focus on God. That what we leave with is so eternal that change cannot be avoided. I’m praying for you. God knows that all of us are beautiful, and I would like everyone to know! =)