The Alpha retreat this weekend was beyond.
Beyond my expectations. Beyond the limits of my vocabulary to adequately describe. Beyond my prior understanding of who God is.
This weekend we learned about the Holy Spirit. Who he is, what he does and how we can experience the Spirit in our own lives. It’s the part of the Trinity many Christians really don’t know much about—or resist. But oh what a difference the Spirit makes.
To use an imperfect analogy, I think the filling of the Spirit into our lives is like adding vibrant color to a pencil drawing. Or like putting gas in our car instead of trying to push it along under our own strength. Or wiping Vaseline off our eyeglasses.
One of my friends summed it up like this, “I never realized there was so much more to being a Christian than just accepting Jesus.”
In the Old Testament God gave the Holy Spirit to particular people at particular times for particular purposes. But after Jesus ascended to heaven, God poured out his Spirit the early believers at Pentecost. (Acts 2) Finally the apostles “got it.” Ever since Pentecost the Holy Spirit is available to ALL believers.
As Jesus declared, “’If anyone is thirsty, let him come to me and drink. Whoever believes in me, as the Scripture has said, streams of living water will flow from within him.’ By this he meant the Spirit, whom those who believed in him were later to receive.” (John 7:37-38)
So that is what we did this weekend. We came and drank. God freely poured out His Spirit for the thirsty. He refreshed and renewed and revived. Some traveled to the mountaintop. Others received a much needed refueling. And for a few the Spirit uncovered long-hidden struggles, brought them into the light and laid them at Jesus’ feet. The experiences were as unique as the individuals present.
It’s not often in our day-to-day that we encounter the Almighty so intimately. But on the Alpha retreat we do. Every time. That’s why I’ve been involved with the program for so long. I continually see it produce glorious fruit. I know many who encountered Jesus up close and personal this weekend will be forever changed — their faith set on fire, their lives filled with purpose, the eyes to their heart opened.
Through the many courses I’ve done, I've witnessed the way God knits us together as a community. Strangers become friends, bound together by a shared passion for Jesus. The more mature help those just taking baby steps. Infant faith blossoms. Participants become helpers. Helpers become leaders. Each group reaches out to help grow the ones that follow. It seems just as Jesus intended.
This weekend we sang Mercy Me’s song Word of God Speak. I continue to soak in those words today.
I'm finding myself in the midst of You
Beyond the music, beyond the noise
All that I need is to be with You
And in the quiet hear Your voice
Word of God speak
Would You pour down like rain
Washing my eyes to see
To be still and know
That You're in this place
Please let me stay and rest
In Your holiness
Word of God speak
Lord, I pray for every person who attended the Alpha retreat this weekend. Continue to invade their hearts with your life-giving Spirit. Give them rest in your embrace. Fill their lives with your purpose. And protect them from the attacks of the enemy. In Jesus’ name, amen.
For more information on the Alpha course, click the button on the right.