SUMMER RETREAT REFLECTIONS
Every year in the second weekend of July, all of the different ministries at QTEC gather at DeSales University in Center Valley, PA, for a weekend of fellowship and spiritual retreat.
In the following few weeks, we will be posting retreat reflections from a few attendees about their experiences from this year's retreat and what they've learned and look forward to.
Going into the retreat weekend, I didn’t hold many expectations. For as long as I can remember, I’ve been going to DeSales, listening to a set of sermons, being temporarily inspired, and then going home again to my typical teenage life. It seemed like pretty common sense to me that I would get the most takeaways from a sermon, and that mindset led to some serious writers block when I was asked to write this reflection. I opened up my retreat handbook and realized, I hadn’t really written many notes at all to be honest. Despite this, when I thought back on the retreat weekend, through the interaction with others, I could truly feel Christ working through the church and working on my heart.
This retreat weekend was the first time I had been exposed first-hand to what James told me were “really Korean” church practices. Holding hands with each other, screaming JESUS at the top of our lungs and praying as a church really built up and brought us together but I felt touched the most when I circled up with the men of our EM and discussed in what ways, us as men can help this church. There were great ideas being thrown around but out of this one word resonated with me the most. Intentionality. Whether it being the extra effort to clean up, volunteer to go on the service rotation, or to reach out to someone who is in need, being intentional about stepping up, and not just going to church to socialize and leave was something that stuck with me.
The concept of intentionality was brought back during Pastor John’s sermon as well. Living a gospel centered life, we have to be more intentional on reading the Bible and spending time in God's presence. Talking to my small group on the first night, I realized I hadn’t been devoting much to God at all. With all my free time in the summer, it hit me hard when I realized I had not been making a constant effort to be with God and His Word. My time, energy, and resources had been wasting away on things that are worthless. Pastor John gave an example of this that I connected to very deeply. When he was younger, he knew that if he died, he would be ok and in heaven, but still he would pray to God, “Please let me be married first before I die.” I’m not going to lie, I had thought the same thing before and prayed the same thing. But, when we die, nothing that we have on this earth will matter anymore, all those hours I spent playing video games, or practicing my cello, or trying to get money will be worthless. I realized I need to be more intentional in my walk with God, and I need to have my devotion be with God as well, because in the end, all that is something that will last in heaven.
During our regular Friday fellowship, Keystone has discussed wanting to know God more. To be more precise, we somewhat regressed to wanting to want to know God more. We thought that, the prospect of having God in our lives was enough to inspire anyone to read His Word and follow him, but for some reason many of us still had problems getting motivated reading the Bible. Intentionality means to be deliberate or purposive about something. If we are not intentional about wanting to connect with God, we will get nowhere if we are forcing ourselves to read the Bible or devotionals. A lot of us realized that our problem was that maybe we didn’t even want to want God more. We’ve been so desensitized to all of these spiritual things that we might be struggling to find ways that God’s Word excited us. I’m not sure how to solve this problem but it is something we should work towards.
The highlight of the weekend came after the session Saturday night and we had small group time. Most of my other Keystone people had gone with Pastor John on some prayer journey. A lot my spiritual struggles at that point had to do with me not being able to see and appreciate God’s love in everyday things. I had begun to lose faith in God’s ability to change my own heart and I felt really lost a lot of the time. During my small group discussion though, I got to sit and talk with a few members of college and careers about my own personal struggles with family relations, and also my own feelings about what Pastor John had said that night. It was pretty incredible to me how receptive they were and how caring they could be to just a kid. Even going into the night, having someone be able to talk to me about some struggles I was having, was very touching as well. I realized as this was happening, the place I could see God the most in, was through the actions of others. I could tangibly see the effect of God’s love through the way they treated me and this deeply impacted me. There is no doubt to me God is working through our church. Every week I see acts of love and people who praise and worship God with such intent I wonder how anyone who comes into our church can’t feel the love of God. I’m slightly disappointed in myself that it took me this long to feel and really experience God’s love like this, but this retreat experience made it well worth it and I don’t think I’ll forget about it anytime soon.