I don't know if you ever feel this, but at times life can feel like an endless cycle of monotony. Winter is almost over, spring will be here, then summer, fall, and we start over again, again, again, and again. With each passing day and month I often find myself doing the same things over and over. Not only can my life feel boring, but when I think of what all people do, I see the same basic pattern: people graduate high school and work or go to college. Maybe they get married, have kids, watch their kids do the same thing, and get old. With some variation, generation after generation follows the same pattern.
In my fifth year of ministry, these same feelings can creep in. Every year, we follow the same basic pattern: move in, Bible studies, New Years Conference, retreats, spring break trip, Summer Training Project, and do the whole thing over again, again, again, and again. Whenever I have these feelings, I start to wonder what the point of all this is. Sadly, that is exactly how I felt as I was getting ready for our winter retreat a couple weeks ago.
Then it hit me. Nine years ago almost to the day, I was invited to a similar winter retreat with Campus Outreach as a freshman at the University of Minnesota. I was reluctant but had nothing else to do, so I went. It was one of the best decisions I ever made. I came into college looking for life in success and living the American dream. On a predictable retreat that Campus Outreach does every year, God did something amazing. He began the process of removing my shallow view of Christianity and showing me more and more that the only place I was going to find life was in Jesus.
If you’re looking for significance in the patterns of life without God, you won’t find it. It changes everything when you understand God is there, and He’s telling a beautiful story. It makes the world come alive. I can live fully in each moment as it comes and quickly slips past because I know God is in it. I don’t have to dread the future and doing the same things again and again because God will be there uniquely working in ways I sometimes can't even see or grasp.
Just like God used the winter retreat nine years ago to change my life, my prayer is that God will use this year's retreat in the lives of the students from St. Thomas who went. The retreat had all the components of a good retreat: fun games, good food and snacks, late night shenanigans (like a 3 mile hike to a waterfall at 2am), someone sharing their testimony, and time in the Bible. I don’t know what God will do through this weekend. Maybe as the time goes on, in 9 years from now, a student from this trip will look back and see how God used this past weekend to change their entire life. That would not be boring and predictable; it would be amazing.
Campus Outreach Minneapolis
St. Thomas Campus Director