Well… Desert Challenge this year is over.
And it was quite interesting, and very challenging, but not in the way the people running it meant it to be, if that makes any sense at all.
The night before DC, daddy had prayed for us that we would be able to be serving others and being lights, and turning the hearts of the children to their fathers.
The first day was quite frustrating. I briefly talked with some girls from a neighboring city while checking in, and then we had our opening session. Already I was quite surprised – we had a brief time of worship, and I found it very hard to concentrate – there were moving lights and the music was too loud. The first session I actually spent with my eyes closed and ears plugged (after that I brought in ear plugs). The speaker was engaging and funny, and made some good points, but he could have talked a lot more effectively if some things had been more to the point. The topic this year was Mission (im)possible, and the focus of missions is the gospel. Except in my small group, the gospel was never clearly presented. During the last session, though, the speaker did talk about how we can’t do it on our own, but it’s through God alone that we can change the world. Afterwards we had mega tracks – the guys and girls split up. The girl’s speaker started out by saying, “I believe that guys and girls are equal, and that anything guys can do, girls can do too, and much better.” Whoa. Ok… I looked over at Caroline and we were both like “That was not good.” At dinner we discussed Biblical femininity and roles and good role models for us as young ladies to have. The guys, however, seemed to have had a wonderful track and were challenged by Daniel, Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego.
After the evening session and No Talent Show, we went to where we were staying and Cait and I called mom and dad. We talked for a while and prayed, then Cait and I went to bed.
The next morning after small groups I pulled a brother in Christ aside and told him that later I wanted to talk to him – I said about how to talk to some young men who were distracting, boisterous, and quite intimidating. I also wanted to talk to him about a comment he had made the previous day about not being sure if he wanted to be supporting Desert Challenge. We decided to talk after the Surge tracks, then went down to lunch. The Surge tracks and sessions that day I found to be quite surface level for the most part. One of the drama teams performed The Lifehouse Everything skit, which was a highlight, it was very powerful for a lot of people and a great reminder of just what Christ’s sacrifice was.
We had afternoon activities and I went outside and played Frisbee, in the process meeting a young lady from another city, with whom I had an encouraging conversation.
My friend and I talked after the Surge tracks, and another young man and a girl friend of mine joined us. We had planned to talk for an hour or so and then go eat dinner, but an hour later we were still talking in the lounge and talked through dinner. First we discussed the young men, and decided to approach the leaders about them later. We also talked briefly about chivalry and being brothers and sisters in Christ. But then our conversation drifted to Desert Challenge that year, sound theology and what we believed Desert Challenge should be like – not mirroring the world but instead creating a counter-culture that is so much better and more excellent than what the world has to offer, centered around the gospel and targeting both believers and non-believers, building others up in love instead of tearing them down or inserting crude humor. We also talked about family and the purpose of youth group and how that applied to us. We acknowledged that yes, the family is the primary place of teaching and that youth culture is not Biblical. But then came the question – so what about those of us who are getting the training in the home? Do we stay in youth group and minister to those who don’t get sound theology in the home, turning the hearts of fathers to their children and children to their fathers? Or do we leave and start creating a counter culture of families leaving a legacy for Christ? This has been something Cait, my parents, siblings, and I have been seriously considering for the past few months, and recently have come to believe that the answer to that question is that yes, we should leave. To what extent and exactly what that means we’re not sure of yet.
The final day, we had small groups, and then talked more about theology – predestination, more on the roles of women and men… The lights were gone during worship, which changed the atmosphere a lot and really helped bring me to worship instead of just singing.
So while the messages in the conference were not all that refreshing, the conversations they triggered were very much so.
Because of circumstances going into the conference, throughout the whole conference I felt like just throwing myself at the foot of the cross, and clinging to it. Clinging to his love, humility… to His example of perfect, loving servanthood. The longing to kneel at his feet and give Him my all and not take my eyes off of the cross, my brokenness, and Christ’s sacrifice. And through that becoming a servant like Him, learning to put aside my glory and instead following after His glory.
On the second night we wrote love letters to God. I kept mine as a prayer, a promise, an offering.
One thing the speaker did constantly talk about was love – and how loving others will make us completely different from the world. He reminded us not to be ashamed of the beautiful treasure that we have.
Jesus, thank you. Thank you that I can cling to your cross because of what you suffered for me. Agony, pain, separation from God. Help me, as I run this race, not to fear pain, but to look up at you from where I’ve thrown myself prostrate at your feet and see your hands, your face, see what you gave for me. And I’ll give my all to be a perfect, sanctified, loving servant, running your race to your glory.
Because of the grace that flows from your wounded hands.
Help me cling to this love and grace, Jesus.
Let me never let go.
I have decided, to follow Jesus… no turning back, no turning back.
The world behind me, the cross before me… no turning back, no turning back.
Choose ye this day… but I will serve the Lord!
… and throw myself, a forgiven sinner at the foot of your cross.
All of me
At the cross
Because of your mercy.
On a lighter note…
“Yeah, beef is the muscle of a cow.”
“I didn’t know that…”
“And chicken is the muscle of a cow, too.”
“Where’d Sarah go?”
“I ate her.”
“Been taking Jonathan Swift’s A Modest Proposal too seriously, eh?”
You are very, very loved.