Our Area Leader Retreat was this past weekend. It was good for my soul. We spent an hour praying together on Saturday morning, but it was weird. Our Area Director asked us to do something I don't really remember ever doing. He said "Pray for yourselves out loud. Don't pray for kids, don't pray for Young Life, but lift your personal burdens to the Lord." I guess I'm used to praying out loud in a group for other people, but not for myself. It felt unnatural. Uncomfortable. I felt vulnerable. It was my favorite part of the weekend.
God gave everyone of us in that room a rare gift.
With our eyes closed, we were able to see into each others' souls.
During that hour...
I heard a fifty year old leader tell God he was scared of losing his hearing and losing his job. I heard true humility and utter dependence on Christ. God used his prayer to begin to melt away my arrogant independence.
I heard a college gal pray for her high school brother and his addiction to drugs and alcohol. I heard her open her hands and give God her guilt. She wept because her brother is imitating the life she modeled for him while she was a teenager.
A mid-twenties leader prayed for her husband in the army, who she's only seen once in 4 months. I heard her heart literally ache out loud.
I listened to one of my best friends in the room pray. He's early thirties, works full time, dad of two young girls, and one incredible YL leader. In his prayer he begged God for patience, with co-workers and with his daughters. I sensed the Lord was whispering to him a reminder of how patient our Heavenly Father is with us.
A young college guy simply prayed, "Lord, I'm scared."
I was sitting by a new mom, who is the only YL leader left at her school. As she prayed I opened my eyes and saw her soaking wet cheeks. She cried out to the Lord in desperation, not knowing how she can possibly do ministry alone, with a newborn.
A high school teacher's heart broke out loud for the fatherless kids in his classroom. I could hear his love for those guys. I could also hear his fear of how ministry to them could be so consuming that his own children might feel fatherless.
Psalm 55:22 (The Message)
"Pile your troubles on God's shoulders, he'll carry your load."
I know our Heavenly Father loved hearing his children cry on his shoulder that Saturday morning.
Yesterday my own 2 year old daughter was upset that mommy was at work.
"I sad daddy. Mommy work."
I held her as she cried. She squeezed my neck tighter and tighter.
That's one of the best parts of being a dad.