I was privileged to have spent this past weekend with my Cru at Sam Family. At first I thought, “I am out of college, what do I need to retreat from?” I soon realized how much I had missed this community and how grateful I was for the opportunity to fellowship with them for an entire weekend! This was my 5th Cru Fall Retreat and each of them has impacted me in different ways and I experienced God’s grace throughout the different seasons of life.
We had an awesome speaker, Roderick Barnes, whose delivery of truth was captivating, convicting and full of grace at the same time. The majority of these notes are directly from his talks and others from my own processing of what was shared. The overall theme of his talks was the blessedness of brokenness, and I was a bit skeptical because of how many talks I have heard on this topic. My skepticism soon gave way to intrigue and a desire to delve into these scriptures myself. A speaker who leaves you eager to sit at the feet of Jesus and hear what he says in his Word for yourself? I mean it should not be shocking, but it should be the goal, right? Hashtag goals.
We read Luke 10, verses 38-42 and discussed Martha busy preparing for Jesus and Mary’s choice to simply sit a Jesus’ feet. I mean they were both doing “spiritual things,” what was so wrong about Martha’s actions and why is it we need to strive to be more like Mary? Well, the speaker talked about the idea that Martha welcomed Jesus into her home (which is not inherently a bad thing), but Mary welcomed Jesus in her heart. This can look differently in our own lives but we are essentially missing the same thing. I could spend all my time reading books and commentary, attending and serving in church and different ministries but miss out on the one thing that is necessary: spending time with Jesus. Taking the time to sit at Jesus’ feet and allowing our souls to be filled. This is not easy to do in a world with distractions that compete for our time. Perhaps it means we have to take time from doing things we love, albeit good things, to experience the real joy of who Jesus is.
During our group discussion we looked at Nehemiah 1:1-4, the story of Nehemiah as he wept not only for the physical brokenness of Israel (the wall of Jerusalem coming down), but for their spiritual brokenness (rebellion against God and being in exile). As we looked at Nehemiah’s response to all of this we saw that his heart was broken for Israel, as he prayed, confessed and pleaded to God. As a precursor to my next thought; group discussions are remarkable in the way they allow for us to learn from others. As we talked what brokenness is, Bill used the illustration of a machine that is broken and therefore not functioning as it should. Similarly, in our brokenness we do not operate in light of what we were created for: God’s glory. Wow!
I saw so much of what the blessedness of brokenness means this weekend. Through the speaker’s story and from what I experienced at Women’s time (and what I imagine the guys experienced during their Men’s time). I’ll share only a few thoughts on this as these times were sacred. God does his best work through broken men and women. For the times I thought that having separate Men’s and Women’s time was just for girls to talk about boys and boys to talk about girls, I can admit my lack of wisdom on this. I have come to recognize this time as a beautiful depiction what it means to exist in an authentic community where we get to see and love each others’ heart. Psalm 34:18 “The Lord is near the brokenhearted; He saves those crushed in spirit.”
Perhaps the illustration that stood out the most to me, was when Roderick shared about teaching his sons to ride a bike. He likened walking in the power of the Holy Spirit to riding a bike downhill. This illustration stuck with me because it shows how God has equipped us for that which he has called us, similar to how the bike is equipped with brakes for when its purpose is to stop. So we need not be fearful. For by grace he has empowered us with his Holy Spirit to be equipped for good works.
There are many more thoughts I could share from this fall retreat, but I’ll just leave you with an encouragement to make an effort to be a part of a community of believers. We are not meant to live out this Christian life alone. Fellowship is just another way God shows his care for us, by blessing us with people to love, encourage, comfort and even lovingly and truthfully correct us when we need it.