I’m home from Briefing, and I am so glad that I was able to go; it was absolutely amazing! Lately, my life has become a crazy mess of busyness. I jump from one thing to the next, constantly striving and filling every spare moment with more things. I’ve been trapped with no way out. I went to Forest Home for four days with Seven24. I left my planner, my cell phone, my e-mails and spent the weekend sleeping in a tent, listening to thunderstorms, putting my feet in an icy cold creek, sharing laughs with my friends, seeking the heart of God, listening to speakers, and taking pictures. By the second day, I was feeling refreshed and a little more rested. I have a hard time forcing myself to rest. My extra 10 minutes tends to go toward one more little thing I have to do. But, I was kind of stuck at Forest Home, and the time spent in the mountains was just the ticket to fix that need to get away.
I went to the prayer chapel with Farah, and Nicole followed. I don’t know what it is about prayer chapels that draws me in so much. I love the small size, the quaint little place that seems to invite all who are needing to get away for a moment. We went inside and looked around. There was a kneeling cushion along the front where a Bible sat on a table and there was the famous picture of Jesus praying, looking up to heaven in the Garden of Gethsemane. I was so excited to kneel and pray to Jesus. I looked at the Bible that was lying open in front of me. It was in the Psalms--one where David was crying out to God, “O God, my God, why have you forsaken me?” I realized that that was exactly how I’ve been feeling about all the change going on in my life right now. I’ve felt that God has just dropped me off in a new home, new school, new job, new church, new friends, new everything and left me to make it work. It’s not been fun.
I then looked over at the 23rd Psalm. I read it over a few times, with the verse about “still waters” sticking out to me. Words like still, rest, peace, etc. always seem to grab my attention because it’s the thing I long for so often these days and can’t seem to achieve. I cried as I read, and a verse came to mind: “Come to me, all you who are weary, and you will find rest, for my yoke is easy and my burden is light.” I told God that my life didn’t feel easy. I felt like I was carrying the weight of everything all by myself.
I thought about the story one of the speakers told us about a place in New York that has a statue of Atlas carrying the world on his shoulders. He’s straining under the weight--each muscle being used to its full potential. On the other side of the street was a cathedral with a picture of Jesus holding the world in His hand. The speaker asked which side of the street we’re standing on. I feel like Atlas. I’m carrying the whole world, and it’s hard! I told God I didn’t know how to let it go.
I heard the thunder outside. I asked God if that was supposed to comfort me when I felt so desperate and alone. I’ve always associated thunder with the scary, angry God. I thought of how my tears were a way of letting go and cleansing my spirit. I then thought about the rain that comes along with the thunderstorm. The thunder seems big and scary but the rain comes and washes everything away, cleans, refreshes, makes everything new. My life might seem big and scary right now, but it doesn’t mean God has left. He’s right there with a bigger plan of how to make things better with a fresh start. It finally clicked, and a big rush of wind came through the door that was open at the front and brushed my face. The wind also knocked some dead leaves off of the trees outside. I thought about the Holy Spirit--breath, wind--and how He strips away the dead leaves and things in my life that limit me from truly growing. I asked God to do that. I didn’t want to be held back by it all anymore.
I walked away from that prayer chapel that afternoon with a weight lifted. It was the turning point of my trip. Later in the trip I spent my quiet time with God talking about the idea of rest, confessing that it was easy to rest in Forest Home, away from my life. It was the coming home that I was worried about. I didn’t know how to apply this concept of resting to my new life. I prayed that God would help me and show me how because I figured out that if I truly learn to rest, then all my other “problems” would be solved. I would be able to rest and have peace as I trust God with my future. I would be able to rest and not overwhelm myself with too many activities and get stressed out. If I was truly resting, then I wouldn’t be trapped in my striving lifestyle.
Overall, it was a memorable trip: dance parties before meeting sessions, random stretching exercises in the tent, interpretive dance moves, late night heart to hearts, fortune cookies, hikes in the forest, stargazing, being scared out of my mind in the dark, freeing worship, cuddling in the freezing cold at chat group, fake spiders, and lots more!
God has blessed me so much. I have such wonderful friends. My heart is overflowing with thankfulness. Thank you all who came and were a part of my awesome weekend. God is changing my heart and some of that is thanks to you!