April 30, 2017
The Spring Retreat at the Lake of the Ozarks was an amazing trip that I experienced with an amazing group of people. This was my second trip with CSC and it didn’t fail to impact my life in an outstanding way. When I first heard about the trip I was excited to meet people from the other colleges that were attending the retreat as well. Although, the main reason for me going was to get away from all of the craziness of life and to draw closer to God.
It is always pleasant to be surrounded by others who have similar beliefs as you because you feel safe and accepted. Every speaker that weekend had spoken about how we had to make a difference when we got back from the trip. In reality, our daily lives are full of nonbelievers, and we as Christians are a minority. I was encouraged to come back to Illinois and be confident in Jesus and to share his word with those who don’t know the truth. Everyone there agreed that this is what we have to do as Christians, spread the gospel. Yet, it isn’t as easy as it seems. Unfortunately we as humans are afraid to be persecuted and casted out by society and our friends. We also tend to get sidetracked in our walk and put other things or people in God’s place. Personally, I struggle with putting God first in my life because it is so easy to toss him to the side. We as Christians need to wake up. When we accepted Jesus into our hearts we weren’t signing up for a luxurious and easy life style. We, in fact, are to live opposite to what everyone considers a comfortable life.
Christians in many other countries have to suffer more than most of us will ever have to, but we will still suffer in some way. We have to accept this reality because if we want to be like Jesus, we need to be willing to lay down our own lives. Laying down our lives for Christ doesn’t necessarily mean that we have to physically die. It means to be humble, patient, loving, and kind even when we feel like doing the opposite. How will our enemies or nonbelievers see a difference in us if we act just like them? Living in a first world country, Satan is prowling around and controlling the mainstream media. It is so easy for us to get sucked in to worldly luxuries if we are not careful. Satan is here on this Earth to steal, kill, and destroy. His main goal is for us to stumble in our faith and to sin. We have to become more serious in growing in our faith by reading God’s word and fellowshipping with other Christians. That is what protects us from Satan and his deceitfulness.
Something interesting that I had learned is that Satan can’t create, but he can destroy. That is what he does best. He can tempt us to sin in various ways, but we can fight back! One of the speakers also said that the wicked always destroys the wicked. Our persecutors, whatever our trials may be, aren’t protected by Satan, because he hates them just as much as he hates us. Satan can knock us down sometimes but in the end he will be defeated by God. Satan has already lost the battle and he wants to take as many people down with him that he can. If we are not on guard, and strive to be like Jesus, what difference will we make?
I was on a “Jesus high” throughout the Spring Retreat and my favorite part was when people were getting baptized in the lake. It was truly beautiful and I could feel God’s power at work. In my mind I was thinking that I am so ready to take on reality when I get back. Little did I know how unprepared I was. I hadn’t been in the Word like I had just ranted about in the previous paragraphs. All went well until I got home. I found out something didn’t work out for my Sunday school class while I was gone and my mother had said something insignificant that just triggered this anger in me. What was I to do? Well, the right answer is to go somewhere to cool off and get in the Word. Did I do that? No, unfortunately, I didn’t. I didn’t handle my anger in a righteous way at all. I just let it consume me. When the fighting was all over we made up but reality had hit me. If I can’t control my anger and actions in my own home with my loved ones, how can I control my actions and truly be a light for strangers or even my own friends? I’m still upset with this mistake that I had made but now all I can do is make it a lesson to learn from.
There is a spiritual warfare that is going on all around us and we have to prepare ourselves. I make so many mistakes, as we all do as humans. We just have to get back up and start fresh in our faith. The comforting thing is that God gives us numerous chances and loves us unconditionally. We just have to take this beautiful truth and apply it to everyone around us. The most important thing that I learned over the retreat is that we can’t let our guards down and become comfortable in our sin.
Barry also had talked to the CSC group at McDonalds one night about how one way we can strengthen our walk with God is to have a mentor and to be a mentor. When we have someone to keep us accountable we are less likely to sin in certain areas and the more knowledge and wisdom we will gain. And we can’t just leave all of the important lessons that we learn to ourselves. We need to pass the knowledge down to a younger generation and all who are lost.