Sometimes we need something that we don’t even realize we can obtain. I’ve been raised in a Pentecostal church, making plenty of mistakes, but never doubting my faith. Since I was a kid, I’ve witnessed powerful moves of the spirit and felt God’s presence pour onto me personally. However, I’ve never witnessed God like I did this year at our Fall Retreat.
I came into Fall Retreat excited to see God move in my life, expecting to go deeper in my relationship with him. However, I also came in slightly disgruntled due to the long circumstances that led to me arriving the day after the retreat began.
Saturday morning and afternoon went by as I expected, having an incredible time participating in some crazy challenges and bonding experiences with my Chi Alpha family. As I got ready for service, I tried to clear my mind and focus solely on Christ, however, I found myself thinking about how great the day had been. This changed when I went into our small group session before service. My small group went extremely deep quickly with both leaders and non-leaders offering what I described as “missiles” of spiritual wisdom. We had a powerful time of prayer and I specifically remember praying that we go into this service expecting God to move. I prayed that we go beyond just salvation and into the presence of God to see a true move of his Holy Spirit.
As we began worship, my mouth dropped because the worship team seemed to play songs directly relating to my circumstances. For example, as we sang, “I have surrendered to your design” from the song “Multiplied”, I heard God tell me to stop trying to control every aspect of my life. It was like a smack in the face with God letting me know that his plan is far greater than whatever I could come up with.
As we moved through the sermon, I was writing down and trying to fervently pay attention, when the speaker called for a time of conviction. This is where the story takes off. He said that the Ninevites knew repentance, as shown in Jonah 3. When he called for us to take time to dig into our own convictions, I laid face down on the floor and began asking God to help with the areas of my life I was struggling with.
However, Anthony got on the microphone and said that we don’t need to go through a routine; we need to cry out for mercy. Almost immediately, I laid on my back. I heard God ask me if I was finally ready to drop the guilt of sins, some tracing six years back, and move forward from current struggles. I began to list off burden after burden while simultaneously lifting my hands in the air and dropping them. Chain after chain broke and I felt physically different when I was done. Pain that had constantly resided in my shoulders and the back of my head was gone.
Through the retreat, God showed me that inner peace is possible through Christ alone. God wasn’t telling me that I wouldn’t ever make mistakes again. He was showing me that he is greater than sin. Jesus personally wore my sin and bondage on the cross. That night I was reassured that his blood was shed for me and no lie of the devil could convince me otherwise.
I thank God for my amazing Chi Alpha family and look forward to three more incredible years reaching the lost at Virginia Tech with them.