If my people, who are called by my name, will humble themselves and pray and seek my face and turn from their wicked ways, then will I hear from heaven and will forgive their sin and will heal their land. — 2 Chronicles 7:14
This past weekend, I spent the weekend with my fellow brothers and sisters of Christ away from the Northern Virginia. My church’s young adult congregation (ODPC NExT) had planned for a weekend retreat for nearly 6 weeks and the time finally came. I’ve only been a member of this congregation for three months so I’m very new to the congregation and everything. On top of that, I got a call from one of leaders and asked me to lead the small group discussion sessions during the retreat because I’ve had some experience leading small groups previously. Initially, I wanted to say no because I wanted to be free from any commitment with this congregation just yet and wanted to get myself comfortable with the people and environment first before patiently waiting for an opportunity and calling to serve. I guess that calling came way earlier than I anticipated.
One thing I learned is that my church has its own retreat center about two hours away. What?!?! I’ve been attending the English Congregation (EC) for last three years and we’ve never gone to that facility for any sort of events. I guess Korean Congregation (KC) gets the dip on the facility. Anyway, majority of people met up at church and hopped onto one of those long tour bus for the ride. As we were heading down to the facility, the bus was relatively quiet as many of people were resting up, in anticipation that they won’t be getting 8+ hours of sleep for next three days. As we got closer to the destination, the bus was heading into rural and even rural-er direction and at one point, I was genuinely scared that we were heading to somewhere really remote where there’s literally nothing around in 10 mile radius, so we could truly focus on praying and praying all day.
As we finally got to the retreat facility around 10:30, all individuals picked up their lanyard and name tags. Since, I was tagged to lead a small group (we call it family), I also had to pick up a folder like shown left. At the moment I picked up, there was extreme nervous and pressure since I didn’t know anyone assigned to my family and it will definitely be awkward with people you aren’t friends with. Since this is only a weekend retreat, I had to really get to know them instantly and lead smooth group discussion throughout the retreat.
I prayed hard prior to this retreat. Before I was assigned to lead a family, I was very excited about the theme, which was Becoming People of Prayer. I’ve been a Christian for close to 10 years now and I still don’t think I’m a man of prayer or even know how to pray. I prayed even harder after learning that I’d lead a group. Lots of anxiety but I knew god would provide (and He did).
The first night was relatively short. Pastor Kim gave brief message about how to become men and women of prayer. We all pray and ask for something to God but do we really pray for right stuff in our hearts? Do we really pray in the name of Christ, like how Christ prayed during his time in earth? Do we know what God wants from us, rather than what we want from God? Thinking…
The Saturday and Sunday were full of activities, messages, and interactions. My family, thankfully, were made of all cool kids. We were the smart ones and those with ability to speak English fluently. Now that I think about it, the leadership probably put all the English-preferred people in a group and tabbed me as a leader since I recently came from EC. It all worked out and I can only thank God for his timing.
As I spent my personal time in prayer, I began to pray for my own heart and that He would break and challenge me. I realize that I grew so much stronger in faith last year because God continued to challenge me and threw me big tasks. At first, those tasks are hard on feelings. I cried like a baby many nights and even thought about giving up but I relied on God as I discover I have nothing to rely on and nowhere to hide but Him. He knew that this would bring me closer to Him and it worked greatly. Last few months of my life have been very fun, I made new friends, traveled to cool parts of the World, and having fun with life but I know this won’t last long and I ultimately have to thank God for all the good people around me. And also that I have to continue to walk toward him during good and bad days.
This retreat didn’t come with any surprises to my heart. I knew that I needed time away from my routines and spend quality time with Him alone and I’ve accomplished. I’m both scared and excited about His plan for me in 2013 and how he’ll use me. All I can do is to maintain this faithful heart, patiently wait for his call, and give my all for his Glory when my time comes.
I’m glad the retreat was on the first week of 2013 and that I was able to re-direct my focus on Him to start the new year. I know my life will get busy with work and school for next 3-4 months but I know I won’t let those hinder my heart.
Rejoice always, pray continually, give thanks in all circumstances; for this is God’s will for you in Christ Jesus. — 1 Thessalonians 5:16-18