Last weekend, some of our youth group went to a leadership conference/retreat. It was truly amazing! God was working so powerfully in everyone, making incredible changes in our hearts, drawing us closer together and rekindling our fires for Him. It's amazing how God uses other Christians to encourage us in our walk with Him.
Friday night, not long after we got there, God decided to reveal to me what He wanted to work on in me over the weekend. Jason (our stand-in youth minister for the weekend) spoke powerful, Spirit-filled words about walking by faith and not by sight. That phrase is so commonplace in the church today that, though I "knew" what it meant, I didn't really have an appreciation for how to do it. Walking by sight, as Jason described it, is going into a situation, assessing your resources (i.e., knowledge of the Scriptures, ability to communicate, general likeableness (that's my Terry Rush word), etc.) and through that lens determining what impact you can make in that situation. Walking by faith is going into a situation, knowing that you're God's child, believing that He will work through you in that situation and acting accordingly. In that light, I realized why walking by faith is so hard for me: I have a huge struggle with fear. I'm constantly worrying about what people will think about me and what I do/say/think. It is a daily battle to focus, not on what others think, but on what God thinks. This is what God wanted to address with me last weekend. As I let God work on my heart in this way, I was amazed at the feeling of freedom that came with it. I was able to be myself around complete strangers without worrying at all what they thought of me. Saturday night, I was sitting eating dinner, talking and laughing with five or six people, only one of whom I had known before that weekend. I was having an awesome time, and it was all because I let God, not fear, control my actions. Just in this past week I have seen an amazing difference in myself and the way I interact with other people. Not that it isn't still a struggle, but God is doing awesome things and I am learning to let Him.
Saturday afternoon, we had a prayer walk. That was incredible, because it was only supposed to last an hour, but most of us took an hour and a half before they finally called us in for the next event. I think everyone was simply enjoying being in the presence of our God. My guess is that none of us ever spend that much time just us and God, and we were all realizing how awesome it can be to just be in His presence. I know that's the feeling He wants us all to have all the time. That's why He's always there waiting for us to just come talk to Him and be with Him. He longs for a deep relationship with us, and we can only imagine how wonderful and beautiful a relationship like that can be.
In short, God did amazing things last weekend, and I know that is due, in large part, to all of the people who were praying for all of us. I know some of you reading this are some of those people, so thank you. God answered your prayers in more ways than you could ask or imagine.
"For I am the Lord, your God, who takes hold of your right hand and says to you, 'Do not fear; I will help you.'" Isaiah 41:13