Where do I even start?
On Friday, October 12th, I drove to Lansing, Iowa. In Lansing is a camp called Village Creek Bible Camp (VCBC) where Chi Alpha goes every year for Fall Retreat. Chi Alpha is an Assemblies of God campus club here at Winona State (also at many other colleges) and Fall Retreat is a weekend getaway to grow in God.
In my car were four other people in Chi Alpha, three of which I had never talked to before! The car ride was just over an hour but we all got to know each other and it was never awkward.
Upon arrival, we did the basics: check in, find our rooms, and just hang out until the rest of the cars arrived. I signed up for the trail ride at 3pm–this is always fun! I went horseback riding through the crispy, colorful bluffs with two other girls and two VCBC staff. The view was gorgeous and the whole ride was peacefully calming. The weather was a bit chilly for early fall, but the sun was out.
In the evening, we started off with dinner around 6pm. Following dinner was service, and it was a long one! Worship lasted longer than it normally does which was awesome. The vibe during worship at Fall Retreat is complete surrender. Everyone’s hands are raised, it’s not uncommon to see anyone on their knees, voices sing prayer beyond the song lyrics, and tears shed strong feelings of the Holy Spirit.
The rest of my night was spend journaling and praying. Others stayed up late, ate snacks, and found activities to stay busy. I decided to go to bed early because I was filled with anxious thoughts, for no reason. I had all these worrisome thoughts of, “Oh my gosh, I feel like I’m going to throw up” and “Something must be wrong with me”, as I was on the verge of tears for what seemed like an eternity. My head was wrapped up in my physical state; the enemy coming into my mind telling me I wasn’t okay, distracting me from the soul-food I needed right in front of me. Spiritual warfare is real, fam!
The next morning, we had service at 9am and brunch around 11am. Speaking of spiritual warfare, that’s exactly what our speaker preached this morning. He emphasized choosing to follow Jesus and wanting to be free from these chains, not just kind of wanting it. He told us to take captive the negative and destroying thoughts in our minds before they take root in our lives. Rehearse the good thoughts, a.k.a. God’s truths.
“I can’t prevent birds from flying over my head, but I can prevent them from building a nest in my hair.” – Martin Luther
We must acknowledge that the enemy is real, but we can’t let it rule our thoughts.
This same day, Saturday, was Color Wars!!!! Color Wars consists of 10 different teams (about 10-15 people on each team), each assigned a different color, and a few different competitions. For example: I was on blue team and my challenge was dancing. Other teammates chose to solve riddles, compete in a three-legged race, and other challenges.
photo courtesy of Chi Alpha Media Team
Color Wars was truly a highlight of my Saturday. It’s awesome to see the God-given gifts of others and their differing personalities that He so lovingly created. Color Wars didn’t last long, so the rest of my day was spent playing volleyball and Signs (here is a similar version if you don’t know this tricky game!). I also bounced (crazy high) on a trampoline while being connected to a harness, played Lava Monster Tag on the playground, and simply hung out whilst drinking tea and coffee. My night ended with a vulnerable telling of my life story to my newest friend, Hannah, while walking around the campground. Moments like these are what make life purposeful and memorable.
Sunday was quick with a morning worship and service followed by brunch. Our campus pastor, Steph, briefly preached as we mainly used this time to self-reflect and praise God. The only points I wrote down were, “don’t be a quiet Christian, that’s ineffective!”, “Acts 6:1-4”, and “is that what a person said, or is that what God said?”. We must pray for boldness to effectively spread God’s word and bring people to His kingdom. See the opportunities God lays in front of you and take advantage. Imagine the prayers He’s using you to answer! Remember to look at the way you were created and start listening to who God says you are. You won’t be successful if you try to drain out societies thoughts on you; you must replace those negative lies with God’s everlasting truths. Here are some Bible verses (that I learned in small group) on who God says you are:
- Genesis 1:27
- Psalms 139:13-16
- Isaiah 43:6-7
- Matthew 19:4-9
- Ephesians 5:31-33
And there went the weekend, in the squint of a giggle. I’m sad to say it took me over a month to write this, but it has been oh-so beneficial to look back on my notes.
Ask yourself, what can I take from this today?