My arrival in April at Mt Tamborine, south of Brisbane, to take part in a three-day senior retreat would be, no doubt, one of the most inspirational experiences of my life.
At the beginning I had absolutely no idea what I had got myself into, but by the end of the three days I came away as a changed person, not physically but mentally, emotionally and most of all, spiritually.
In today’s modern society we are bombarded with options to observe others lives, struggles, pains, weddings, gardens, holidays and even diet regimes!
We can even be involved in their lives at the stroke of a button on our phone, or by voting ‘for’ our favourite, voting them ‘off’ the island or voting them the ‘biggest loser’.
We have become so busy living other peoples lives that we risk forgetting who we are and making the most of the life that God has planned for us.
The Coca-Cola manufacturers assure us that Coke is the “Real Thing”, but when it comes to our lives we often settle for less by trying to be something other than what God planned for us.
My experience at the retreat was not a reality show but more of a reality check.
No-one was voted off the island and nobody was watching to see if any of the girls were the biggest loser.
The week was merely an opportunity to take a good look at ourselves – just the way that God sees me – made in His image and designed by His hand.
Our goal for the week, both individually and as a group, was to be honest with ourselves, get to know the real ‘me’ and accept the challenges that God has given us.
The goal for each individual was to play an active part of everything this faith-filled journey had in store for us. Although this proved to be a challenge for some, we each supported one another and prayed for God’s guidance.
Many different challenges were thrown at us throughout the week. We worked together as a team to conquer what we first saw as ‘unconquerable’!
We grew closer together as a group as the days pressed on, but more importantly we grew closer to our God.
One of the challenges put to us by our group leader, Jenny Simpson, was to design a model (from plasticine) representing our relationship with God. There were so many interesting symbols, not one of them the same … each one just as intriguing as the next.
We were then questioned, by the members of our group, as to why we designed our symbol the way we had.
One symbol I created was that of a clock. Every part of the clock represented a different aspect of my relationship with God, down to the finest detail.
During question time, a group member posed the question, “Why is your symbol a clock?”
Without hesitation I replied, “God is like the minute hand and I am like the hour hand. A clock can’t continue to move on if the minute hand isn’t present.”
My time on retreat was filled with many mixed emotions. I felt the presence of God with me and opportunities like these self-awareness journeys are great because they allow one’s faith to be renewed, revived and refreshed.
Liturgies were held each evening and we sang together, prayed together and cried on each other’s shoulders as we experienced our deep love of Jesus and the closeness and the overwhelming presence of the Holy Spirit working and living within each of us.
The feelings I felt and the atmosphere of the week was indescribable.
I made friends for life and my leader was more than a leader…she was my mentor – a woman I one day wish to be like.
Most importantly I walked away with my best friend by my side every step of the way – Jesus.
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