It's so easy to get consumed with life – children, families, jobs, activities, ministries, responsibilities. It can get overwhelming and suddenly you realize you haven't had a moment to just be still in a long time. As women, we have to be intentional in carving out times of rest for ourselves, because it certainly isn't going to present itself on a silver platter.
Last weekend I took a few days to rest at Camp Arev's third annual women's retreat. I could feel a difference before I even got there, as a friend and I jabbered nonstop on the 2.5 hour drive there. My husband is my best friend but there's something different about connecting with a like-minded woman – a different type of intimacy and understanding that's so very comforting.
Arriving at camp was like being home, even though I didn't grow up attending. I have been a counselor there and my older son now attends every winter and summer and loves it. I want it to be like a second home to my kids, a place where they can make lifelong friends, have fun and grow deeper in their faith. As I saw old and new friends when we got there, I felt it had become that same place for me.
The theme for the weekend was Ambassadors for Christ, with speaker Seta Saleh from southern California leading our sessions. What is the role of an ambassador? In the political world, an ambassador is the President's highest-ranking representative to a specific nation or international organization abroad. As ambassadors of Christ, we represent Him to others – we are His mouthpiece and it's our responsibility to persuade others to make peace with God.
A few points throughout the sessions and small group discussions that stood out to me:
- Prayer is not the objective – the objective is getting to know God
- Learning to pray doesn't offer you a less busy life; it offers you a less busy heart
- An ambassador meets people where they are. The goal is to touch people's hearts – to enter their world and relate to them
- Walking in the Spirit is not a license to sin and it's not optional if you walk with Christ
- Ambassadors are agents of reconciliation. We have to speak the truth but with love, otherwise we'll just "love" people to hell
- Don't just talk about how you love Jesus – show others. Don't just look holy; BE holy
- Your legacy is measured not by what you accomplish, but by what you overcame to accomplish it
As you can imagine, we had very rich discussions regarding this subject and all the ways we are called to represent Christ as His ambassadors here on earth. It's not a light responsibility but a distinct privilege.
Before each session we were led in worship by a team of beautifully talented women. Melissa on piano, Lisa on guitar, and Mary and Annie leading with voice in both English and Armenian. For me, there's no greater way to worship than through music. It was uplifting and softened and prepared our hearts to hear Seta's messages.
Not only were we spiritually fed, we were physically fed as well. Camp chef Jen Baker provided delicious meal after delicious meal, with home-baked scones, berry cobbler, and a special fried fish just for me. I know, I know – I'm totally spoiled.
I had a huge shock on Saturday when someone I hadn't seen in about 15 years walked in and said my name. It took me a few seconds to realize who she was. What a huge blessing for God to reconnect us after so many years apart.
Saturday afternoon we had some free time and we took full advantage of all that camp has to offer. I think every woman present took a turn going down the zip line, even a spirited 77 year old in sparkly sneakers! We then walked over to the archery range and shot some arrows. Yes, I lost an arrow over the fence. I guess I should take lessons from my boys! Some women took a drive to the nearby outlets while the rest of us hiked, napped, made jewelry or painted our nails while we chatted. There was so much to do and, most importantly, we were able to talk and get to know each other better throughout it all.
Sleeping on a top bunk, making new friends, connecting with two women who are also writers, being filled with worship, growing deeper in my understanding of God's word and what He expects from me, and being convicted to act on that understanding – because knowledge is useless without application – all in less than 48 hours.
Thank you, Camp Arev. Until next year!