There were a couple of ways that God refreshed my soul through this retreat. One of my prayers for the retreat is that I would come away with the same passion for Christ that burned in my soul during the earliest days of my Christian walk. When I came to Christ at age 18, I had nothing to hang my hat on but His love for me and my love for Him. I had no job, not even a high school diploma, few friends, no money, not much going for me at all except Christ. Therefore, I pursued Him with passionate zeal. However, after 18 years of following Christ I have, to be honest, not been quite as consistent in my zealous love for Him as I was in those early days. I wanted to experience the joy and zeal of those early days again.
God answered my prayer in two ways. First, many of the songs we sang that weekend were from the earliest days of my walk with Christ, songs I have not sung since those days. These songs included, "As the Deer," "Humble Thyself in the Sight of the Lord," and "Give Thanks" to name a few. This was one of the means God used to bring me back to those early days of following Him. Second, on the 3rd night of the retreat I had a wonderful encounter with the Lord as He reminded me of how much He has done for me. In my mind's eye, I recalled the first 18 years of my life and remembered how lifeless I had become. Then, God brought before me all the miraculous ways that He has filled my life with good things. The zeal of my early days was renewed in that moment.
During the Walk to Emmaus retreat, God also renewed my loving optimism in the "body of Christ" called the Church. There were so many people who served me during the retreat. They provided meals, prayed for me around the clock, and gave me special gifts. One of the highlights came at the close of the weekend when I received a ton of letters from Christ followers who love me as if I were blood-related and expressed their appreciation for my life. I cried like a baby with an overly full diaper as I read those letters. There were other surprises along the way, which I won't reveal, that renewed my joy in being part of God's family, the Church.
Thanks to any of you who prayed for me or wrote letters. I realize that many of you, especially the Stroudsburg Wesleyan Church family, didn't even know that I was on a retreat and that they could write letters to me. Don't worry, I had plenty of letters. "My God has supplied all my needs."