I was at retreat from Sunday night to Wednesday afternoon. It was a blessed time for all of the pastors, counselors, volunteers, and our beloved campers!
Here are just a few pictures of some awesome peoples!
Me and one of my co-counselors for family group:
My partner for small group, our littlest girl in small group, and meee (except this camera is making my thunder thighs look pretty long and lean. Cools).
Our small group getting crazy… well they were supposed to get crazy… instead of looking all cute and making me look insane:
And the gorgeous bunch of New Creation UMC brothers and sisters:
I got to share a story with my small group about the first time I experienced the Holy Spirit. It was also the first time I felt the FEAR OF THE LORD.
I was in seventh grade. It was during that weird phase when I questioned whether I was brainwashed or not. “Do I really believe all these crazy stories in the Bible? I mean… I can definitely tell you a bunch of Bible stories, but do I REALLY believe them?”
And then we were at the retreat. We had an amazing praise team, great speaker, and had our worship services outdoor in the amphitheater. The first two nights started as it may for many young’uns… we look around and see a bunch of people crying during the prayer times and think, “… Oh, shoot. How come I’m not crying?… Quick. Think of something really sad…”
Then on the third night, I tried not to think about everyone around me. I happened to crane my neck and look up and the night sky. I saw the many stars, so bright and super duper far away. Then I looked at the trees around us. They were insanely big and beautiful.
When I saw how little space I took up in all of space, I felt really really small… and insignificant.
Then I thought about TIME. In all of the time from the beginning of creation to the time of that retreat… to however many people will come to be in the future, I knew I did not take up much time on the timeline. In fact, I would not even have a big line coming out of the world’s timeline to mark the day I was born, or the year I graduated high school, or anything I did. Who was I? I was nobody. I was insignificant.
AND THEN… God opened my eyes and my heart. I realized that God was the one who created the sky, the earth, the trees, and the very mountain we were retreating to. He created everything with His Words. This is when I felt the fear of the Lord. How BIG, how MIGHTY, how AWESOME He was/is/always will be. Just to be in the presence of the Creator of the heavens and earth made me tremble.
A huge wave of shame fell over me as I stood at His feet. I was not worthy… who am I that I should be talking to the LORD or asking Him for silly things? At eleven or twelve years of age, I had done nothing for His Kingdom, I could not sing well or do anything special. I was no one. I was insignificant.
Finally, my Heavenly Father comforted me. I was filled with the Holy Spirit, and I realized that this Almighty God cared about ME. Not only did He care about me, but He LOVED ME. He. Loves. Me.
He told me he loves me so much that he sent his only begotten Son, his innocent Son, to die the death of the sinner.
And then the tears came. The snot ran. I was probably drooling. How nasty I must have looked… yet He told me, “You are so beautiful right now.” I was broken before God… broken because I knew I had cared more about myself than actually pursuing daily encounters with God.
If GOD loves and cares about me, then I know I am significant. Knowing that He took time, care, and consideration when He created me… making me uniquely me… making me unrepeatable… I must be incredibly significant in His eyes. I shouldn’t care if I am significant to the world because I am already significant to the One who was, is, and always will be. The King of Kings claims me as his own and he said, “You are mine!”
During the sermon, the verses from Psalm 139 were read: “For you created my inmost being; you knit me together in my mother’s womb. I praise you because I am fearfully and wonderfully made…” It really took me back to my retreat experience as a seventh grade camper 🙂
Many years later, I would end up struggling again with my self worth… but He has been faithful to me in surrounding me with people who guided me in the right direction. Sometimes God speaks in whispers, but when I start to stray, He becomes LOUD in my life.
He was loud and clear during the retreat. There were a bunch of “coincidences” that happened, such as the same verse being spoken at different times. Not sure if it’s because I am straying or because I am becoming distracted (or is that all the same thing?).
Did you/do you attend church youth retreats?
Have you ever been a counselor for a retreat/summer camp/VBS? Any great experiences/memories to share?