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Have you ever attended a retreat? Youth retreat? Cross Country retreat? Women’s retreat? Men’s retreat? Leadership retreat? Corporate retreat? Marriage retreat? Anytime type of weekend or several days where you disconnect yourself from the world around you and are able to focus on a specific topic? They can be pretty powerful, meaningful and life changing. Normally you go on retreats with people you know and by the end, the hope is, to have a deeper understanding of one another. Some of my greatest faith stretching moments have occurred during retreats.

Many moons ago (2006), I participated in the Emmaus Walk. The Emmaus Walk a weekend of intense personal reflection and deeper study in who and where God is in your life. When I went, it was a last minute decision and I didn’t go with anyone I knew. The only person I “knew” was one of the pastors that attended. She stayed in the background and was available if someone needed to talk, pray or provide whatever need that came up. Several times during the weekend, anxiety crept in. Other ladies knew each other. I didn’t know anyone at my table. I was the “new kid on the block.” It’s difficult to have meaningful, deep discussions with people you’ve never seen before and may not see again. So, every now and then, I’d look behind me and see the one person I knew. Each time I was able to take a deep breath and tell myself it will be okay. I can do this.

At that time in my life, I was a stay at home mom with three toddlers. I didn’t see much of the outside world. And when I did, I usually had three little ducklings following behind me. Relationships outside of the house were pretty limited. I felt my world closing in on me and needed some space to breathe and be reminded of the purity of God’s love for me. That weekend was what I needed at that moment. And God provided the reassurance through the one person I knew to carry me through and have a faith stretching milestone experience. 

We all need someone. We all need each other. God is the ultimate presence in our lives. He also gives us people in our lives to help us out here on earth. 

Who are your people? Who are your “just knowing you are there will give me the courage to keep moving forward” people. Or when you need help and they are only a phone call away and they show up. Or even the ones that just listen as you vent, scream, cry and just need a hug.

Our faith is strengthened by the ones we surround ourselves with and others are strengthened by our faith. That’s a humbling, precious gift to give. 

The other night we had a snip it of a “retreat” kind of experience during our small group. We reminded each other of the strengths we see in one another, shared how their individual faith has strengthened us and our group as a whole. The guys endured the tears like champs! And their eyes might have been a little watery too! They were happy, faith strengthening tears that reminded us of the gift of each other. 

Who can you say “I got you” to and who says it to you? The number may be small, but it is a mighty number. When the ground underneath begins to wobble, a look, a word, a smile, a phone call, a hug is the strength needed to hold steady and keep moving forward. A deeper challenge is to be that person for someone else. It’s a great responsibility and priceless gift to give part of yourself to someone who needs a little bit of you to keep them going. Christ is the One True Giver. He’s given to us so we can give to others.

Some of my many retreat memories include ping pong tournaments! I never lasted too long. The whole hand eye coordination thing got me every time. Canoe trips when we “accidentally” tipped someone else over. Capture the flag in the dead of night. Smores over the campfire. Sausage, biscuits and gravy for breakfast. Yes, the ever present retreat “trust fall.” We caught everyone!  We came as individuals and left as a team. 

My friends, may you be aware of Christ’s presence in you, be willing to seek out godly wisdom, and have an open heart to share your strength with others. 

Thanks for sharing a moment with me. We are truly in this together in Him. 

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