Lessons Gleaned From A Youth Retreat
A few days ago, Tom and I and a young assistant led a group of 15 youth from our church at a weekend youth retreat. We joined about a hundred other youth, their leaders, and staff at a nearby camp for a high-energy, high-impact, highly-enjoyable time of meetings, worship, discussion, activities, fun, and friendship-building. Retreats of any kind are wonderful for gleaning life lessons from the Lord. Such as:
1) In light of eternity, we’re all youth! The Lord impressed this truth on me fifteen years ago when our first son, David, entered high-school. Those days have long since passed, and he’s a father of two sweet boys now. But the truth remains—and I gladly held on to it at this retreat. Concern about being a bit older melted away—after all, since “with the Lord… a thousand years is like a day” (2 Pet. 3:8), what’s a few seconds here or there?
Seriously, while we can’t alter our age, background, or many other things about ourselves, we can alter the way we view them and what we do with them. For example, despite the fact that our younger son just graduated college, we decided to keep ministering to youth and joining them wherever, however, the Lord leads us—until He calls us elsewhere or calls us home to heaven!
2) The Lord equips us to do His good work (Heb. 13:21). While my husband is naturally stronger, more confident, speaks with authority, and can function on little sleep, none of these come naturally to me. Therefore I earnestly asked the Lord to supply them, and He did! This also built my faith in Him, as well as confidence to keep requisitioning equipment. Try it—it works!
3) We build our trust by exercising it—providing that what or who we trust in proves trustworthy. Trust—>Proven—>More Trust—>More Proven—>… in an upward spiral. This camp features the longest zip-line in Maryland. The first time I rode it, I knew in theory that I was harnessed in and everything was safe. But theory alone didn’t suffice to make me comfortable about defying gravity into 1700-foot-high mid-air. I hesitated, gulped, assessed the risk, and gingerly eased off the platform. The first time. The second time I didn’t hesitate, but did ease off carefully. This time, the third-- “Here we go!”— and off I went. Not exactly running and jumping off, like one of our girls did, but hey, maybe next time? Trusting the Lord sometimes feels like walking or jumping off into mid-air, but He’s our proven cable and harness both. “…Taste and see that the Lord is good” (Ps. 34:1-8), and keep coming back for more heaping helpings!
4) “Two are better than one”, and three is even better when the third is the Lord! (Eccles. 4:9-12) Hiking up a rocky trail to the zip-line, our assistant asked if she could hold onto me, due to a knee injury. I said “sure”, feeling good to support someone that way, when I often have to hold onto my husband, due to my own lessening strength and balance. I also warned her we might have to both find someone else to hold onto! We made it most of the way—‘til things got a bit steep, with rocks that rolled, and as a young, strong, girl came up, I asked her if we could hold onto her for a minute. She gladly allowed that, and we all made it up safely. That’s life-- we need each other for support and encouragement at different times for different things. And when we can’t hold each other up, the Lord reaches out and invites us to latch onto Him for firm, unfailing, support.
I could share much more—the Lord shows us infinite truths when we keep our eyes opened and our ears tuned in—but I’ll save the rest for another time. Meanwhile, let’s keep “chewing on” and internalizing these through practice. As 1 Tim. 4:15 puts it, “Practice these things, [and] immerse yourself in them, so that all may see your progress.”