Although I’ll always love the more extensive trips we go on to see how many other people are interested and passionate about our faith, there’s nothing as personal as the high school retreat can be. During this retreat, our youth are together in a community, and it can be a place of real vulnerability and self-discovery through their relationship with God.
High school is a time where it’s so hard to be authentic, even with your friends, because of what your friends might think or say. There’s so much insecurity, self-doubt, and anxiety that comes with figuring out your identity. Amid these struggles, a weekend time of encounter with God and growing in our faith with people you know can be extremely powerful. Meeting God can ground us in who we are, not who we feel others want us to be. When we meet God, he knows us wholly and loves every single part of us. This beginning premise of love and acceptance from our creator is what should be the foundation of our identity, but in high school, it’s hard to believe these things when people might say things to you or treat you in a way that makes you question your worth or dignity. I mean, sometimes, it’s tough when those things happen as an adult too!
Our retreat is a moment in which our kids can encounter God personally and be known and loved in a way that they might not always have around their peers. It can be a powerful experience within the individual and community, so I’m looking forward to giving kids this opportunity again.
As I’ve been praying through this weekend, I think God wants to show a lot of them that he can be trusted and offer some of the kids deeper levels of trust. The world over the last few years since our previous winter retreat has felt like a volatile place. In such times, our minds can quickly go to “Why is this happening, God? Do you not care about me?”. I think that God wants to bring our youth into an encounter with his goodness and generosity to help establish that God does care, He is in control, and wants to assist us in every part of our lives. A passage of scripture that has been standing out for this retreat is John 14: 1-3, which says:
“Do not let your hearts be troubled. You have faith in God; have faith also in me. In my Father’s house there are many dwelling places. If there were not, would I have told you that I am going to prepare a place for you? And if I go and prepare a place for you, I will come back again and take you to myself, so that where I am you also may be.”
God wants us to know that we are important to Him and that he has a place for all of us within his kingdom. I’m looking forward to how God will work on our retreat (December 10-12) and if you know a high school student who could benefit from this retreat, please pray for them and encourage them to think about going. Keep us in your prayers, especially that we can come into even greater trust in Jesus.