At the beginning of January, all of the first year missionaries went on an eight-day silent retreat. This retreat was very challenging for me, but God moved in ways that I would’ve never expected Him to. I realized how much humor God and I have in our relationship, whether it was through contemplations on scriptures or playing catch by myself out at the wiffle ball field. He hit me upside the head with a baseball bat – not literally, but He made me realize how I had been shying away from all the opportunities I’ve had to pray out loud, whether it is with my brothers and sisters here at camp or the teenagers that have come. I had been struggling a lot with this: feeling like my prayer wasn’t good enough or just never knowing what exactly to say. I felt like a hypocrite because whenever we had teens come up here on retreat and we would lead them through low ropes, I would ask them to lead us or close us in prayer. I would always say to them, “There’s no wrong way to pray,” but in the back of my mind, I would think, “except for me.” The eight-day retreat helped me to see He wants me to be more courageous and bold in the way that I pray and who I pray in front of.
Just recently, I found myself in a hospital waiting room full of friends and family that were there for support of a really great friend of mine. The nurse came and told us she was going to be taken back for surgery and another friend of hers stood up and said, “I really think we should all stand up, gather in a circle, and pray.” Then, He looked at me and said, “Joe, I feel you are the most qualified person in here to lead us. Would you mind?” For a second, my mind thought back to the way I was feeling before the eight-day retreat, but I also had never been so ready to lead prayer. I had never felt more prepared or equipped to do this. Even around friends and family that weren’t necessarily of the same faith, God was able to shine through and allow me to enter into prayer with them.
I am very blessed to live in a community that will support me in everything and that will hold me accountable. Since I have shared with them the feelings I had been having, they have pushed me to step out of my comfort zone numerous times. It’s still something that I am working on, but the Lord is continuing to strengthen me in being courageous and bold when I am invited into these moments. I challenge you to be open and look for the ways in which God is asking you to be bold and courageous, whether it is at home, school, work, or any place God has you.
The link below is a petition that was started for my friend that I was talking about in my blog. If you click on it, you will be able to read the story of what happened. I ask first that you pray for her and her family, and then also pray about and consider signing the petition.