My daughters, Cynthia and Lydia, are attending a retreat in Central Minnesota. It is called Together Encountering Christ, focused mainly on teenagers, meant to focus attention on experiencing Christ in a real way. The rest of us will be at Grandmas for the weekend while they experience this retreat.
I attended when I was 17 years old. Wow, 24 years have gone by quickly! I remember it like it was yesterday. I loved it, but I remember it so well because it was such a riveting experience in my young life as a 17-year-old. Allow me to explain.
I knew no one. Not one single person. The entire weekend. You see, I was grounded for totaling my parent’s new car. I was out carousing and driving faster than I should have been, turned a corner and flipped the little 4-door. I was in the hospital for a week and survived (thankfully, I was the only one hurt), and my parents were quite happy that I was alive. But, after the dust settled, they revealed the punishment: “We want you to attend a TEC retreat.”
They hadn’t even attended one. They just heard about it. None of my friends would be there. I fought the grounding, but eventually gave in, serving my “penance” for totaling their car. Oh well, three days, I could get through it.
That was 24 years ago, and my life has been an exciting journey with Jesus since.
Want to know something funny? I was an atheist when I flipped that car and almost died. I was knotted up, angry, a typical “I know what life’s all about” kind of teenager. I figured life was much simpler than it really was, that my purpose was just as miserable as my understanding of life. Life was empty, God wasn’t real, and my life was what it was. Period. End of story.
But Jesus just smiled. He opened up the book of life to me. Ever since, it has been a vibrant story full of life and joy and blessings galore! I’m so glad I surrendered, “let go” and “let God,” just let that smiling Jesus take my pain and become my best friend.
It was sort of good that none of my friends were there. I eventually befriended new people, but that initial surrender was free of peer pressure, what my friends would think, I had little to lose in a room full of strangers. God cleverly set me up, I suppose, to take the dive into faith in Jesus.
Want to help me with something? Pray for Cynthia and Lydia — and their cousin, Mariya, who’s attending with them. It takes a lot of bravery for these young people to put their faith in God, to “together encounter Christ.” It’s risky, but God will encourage them to dive deep. Jesus is there at TEC.