Though, would I really love it as much if I were living there alone? All of my experiences of temporarily staying in lake houses have always involved being there with groups of people. Particularly with people I love spending time with.
Some of my favorite memories were born at Smith Mountain Lake surrounded by the kind of friends that I’d come to think of as family. For years, those trips to the lake meant time well spent with the friends I’ve known since my days at Bluefield College. My most recent trip to the lake was also spent with a group of friends that I’ve come to think of as family.
This past weekend, I was able to spend time with the GAP (Graduates and Professionals) group from my church, Northstar. I’ve written recently about how I now understand what it means to have a church family. When I refer to my church family, most (but not all) of those that I refer to are a part of GAP.
This was the second GAP retreat to happen, but the first that I’ve been able to attend. I regretted not being able to go with the group last year, but I’m so glad I was able to go this year. I was able to spend 48 hours with a group of people who challenge, encourage, and inspire me to draw nearer to Christ with each passing day.
I can’t speak for everyone who went, but I know that I had an amazing time. We shared stories and meals and I probably laughed more in those 48 hours than I had in quite some time. We played Jeopardy! (which I’m proud to say I was on the winning team) and pieced together a 1,000 piece puzzle. We played capture the flag and spent hours around a campfire. We spent time in God’s Word and worshiped through song. As a family.The theme for the weekend was Walking in Truth. And something that I walked away with, even though it’s something I know I’ve heard before, is the fact that discovering truth will change a person. Jeff Noble, our lead pastor, joined us on Saturday morning and used the example of Josiah. In 2 Chronicles, Josiah is described as a godly king in Israel’s southern kingdom, Judah. He was crowned at a young age and ruled the kingdom with religious zeal. In his 18th year as king, the Book of the Law which God had given to Moses was found. Hearing the truth of God’s word made Josiah realize just how wrong he had been for so many years, moving him to allow the truth to take hold of his life. When we’re faced with the truth, when we apply that truth to our lives, it changes us.
Inevitably, things end. Weekend retreats come and go. We find ourselves having mountaintop experiences and take what we’ve learned back into the valleys. I’m sitting in my home this evening, missing my friends and suddenly realizing that I’ll be eating dinner by myself tonight. I won’t be around a table with a group of people who push me and encourage me to grow in my relationship with Christ. I won’t be joining these people around a fire asking and answering the tough questions. I won’t wake up tomorrow to walk out on a dock to look out over the water before sitting among these people I love to sing songs of worship.
But, I will take what I experienced this weekend and I will apply those truths to my life as I live each day seeking God’s will. I will lean on these friends… this family… as the support system that they are. I thank God for this group called GAP and for the role that each member has played in my life over the last two years and for the roles that they will continue to play throughout the rest of my life.