What Youth Retreat Taught Me

Yesterday my friend Hannah and I got back from a teen retreat about discipleship. During the weekend, we stayed at a church member’s house and brought soda and tons of snacks (can you say "chocolate covered Chex Mix"?). We lounged in the hot tub, jumped in the freezing pool, went bowling, ate junk food, and drove around town. We even choreographed a dance routine to Beyonce’s "Single Ladies" song and performed it by the poolside at night in front of Charles, the youth leader.
Yet I’m here to tell you what else we did, what we learned. I want to share with you what I found, and what I lost, at the retreat. I want you to feel as if you were there with us when Brittney and the girls went down to the creek for bible study. I want you to feel as inspired as I was when the speaker told us about discipleship, and how amazing it felt to be a part of a worship session that led teens to take the next step in their faith. I’m here to tell you about our service project at the nursing home and about my renewed faith.
Every teen in that room dedicated the weekend to Jesus. I want to do even more than that. I want to dedicate my ENTIRE LIFE to Jesus. The speaker, worship leader, and small-group leader really opened my eyes and made it clear to me that giving my entire life to Jesus is the only way I’ll truly be happy. Sure, I’ll get excited about youth camp, new CDs, new clothes, summer vacation. But that happiness, well, I’ve found it doesn’t really last. After a while it becomes simply a memory.
Here’s a journal entry I wrote the night that I got home from the retreat.

"Hands were stretched to the sky. The hard rock music slowed into a faint whisper of sound. Bodies swayed, eyes closed, heads bent, lips formed inaudible prayers.
I felt self-conscious, as I always do, yet there were moments when I felt completely consumed by Jesus. I wanted to give God my outstretched hands as well, but I couldn’t bring myself to do it.
I stood there, a lowly, sinful 7th grader with such small faith. Yet I was a part of this thing, this wonderful thing that was bigger than all of us. We were all one, all God’s children. And we all knew that we were meant to change the world.
I was on a spiritual high worshipping God with al I had. I felt renewed purpose. Yet I was somehow afraid of the world outside the church walls. I was afraid to return to that world and to my own old self. I wanted nothing more than to stay there forever. At that time, I was wrapped in Jesus and wrapped in love, purpose, life. I was terrified that when I went back home it would all unravel. Would I truly be the disciple we were all called to be? How, Lord, can I not return to Melissa the Jesus Groupie? Lord, please help me to be the true disciple of Christ that I am called to be! Help me to conquer my sin and use my experiences to teach others about your love. Help me to be me.

1 comment:

Speak out. Talk with other teens right here. Let your voice be heard.