“To fall in love with God is the greatest romance; to seek him the greatest adventure; to find him, the greatest human achievement.” Saint Augustine dropped this truth bomb here and boy oh boy has this been true.
Our team is currently serving in the diocese of Santa Rosa, CA. Recently, we have encountered some difficult retreats with retreatants who do not want to talk to us at all. It’s easy when the retreatants want to enter in and talk to us and learn about Jesus, and praise God for those retreats. But it’s when we are determined and invest with the youth that we are truly fighting for love. These are souls need to be saved so badly. This played into our lives recently during a three-day retreat.
We had had several retreats in a row during which the youth did not want to be there, and we had become discouraged, but tried to keep up the fight. This was before going into our longest retreat, which would last 34 hours compared to our normal 6 hour retreats. Going into this, things seemed to be going wrong already: there was no supply closet, the retreat contact person wasn’t there, we miscalculated the travel time and arrived with only 30 minutes to set up, and it was rainy (that doesn’t matter, but it added to it!). Then the 8th graders flooded in and were the loudest middle schoolers ever. Again, maybe that’s an exaggeration, but EVERY. LITTLE. THING just added to the already frustrating situation.
As the retreat began, the retreatants were squirming and being rowdy, and the whole team was questioning how we would make it through the retreat. The retreat leaders said a prayer for leading and for the entire retreat. Although that prayer didn’t change our situation, it changed us and how we looked at the situation. The small groups went really well, and the more we called the youth on to enter in, the more they listened. We were able to gauge them and give them the free time they needed which allowed them to pay more attention at more serious times. They were still sometimes, but mostly they were more interested in eating food.
Then, during prayer ministry, we were amazed. Prayer ministry is the climax of the retreat where we give the youth the opportunity to take a step back and offer that time to God and talk to Him. During this time, it was evident that the retreats fully entered in. All the girls were crying, and half of the guys were as well. It was very powerful for them, and for us as well. We ended up extending prayer ministry for them to have a little more time with the Lord. They received the time of prayer so well, and now seemed to accept being on the retreat. They were more open and wanted to be on retreat for even more time. God is so good!! Once we surrendered the work to God, He proved Himself in such a beautiful way!
It reminded us that we constantly need to keep investing. We cannot and will not be discouraged because of our inability to progress during a retreat. We have a renewed zeal to invest in all the ministry, and with each other as a team. We get really tired and it can become difficult to want to fight for love, but we need to keep going. He gave us the gift of being able to see the fruits of how He is working through us, but He constantly gives us the graces to love when it’s hard and to hope against hope.
This team experience gave us hope even though it would have been easier to dwell in discouragement. We sought after God with those retreatants because we desired that they know Him. The Lord has been our greatest adventure and has captivated us. When we want something so badly for someone else, the adventure can seem to take longer, but He is still the greatest romance. He reminds us of that each and every day.