Because of Christ. Three words, a pretty powerful sentence fragment, something that is open to interpretation, something that is intangible, something that is not seen, but felt within the deepest crevices of our bones, our hearts, and our minds.

At the beginning of this school year, God called on me to serve Him as a brand new cell leader for Tapestry’s USC campus. I prayed hard to Abba and asked Him, “Why me, God?” I was and still am the most under qualified person to serve and be a leader to my fellow college students. How could I advise people who were struggling when I myself am still trying to figure out to fight my own personal demons?

On September 5th of this year, I found out that I have been wrestling with anxiety and depression. My grades started to slip because the anxiety was and still is consistently eating away at every part of my already broken soul. College is tough as is, and this was just the cherry on top of all the horrible things that could go wrong. I felt like I was losing control of who I was; Why was I so unlucky? Why me, God, why? How could a broken person like me serve in your ministry? Serve your people? Serve you, Father? I know God was relentless and never changed. I heard God tell me that He would never, ever give me anything I was not able to bear. I know God knew my capacity because He knows my heart. 

Although I have grown up in the church, this past weekend was my first retreat, my first real encounter with Abba, my first time crying, wailing so loudly for the Lord to come and save me and fill me with the Holy Spirit. But before God could work through me and heal me, or anyone for that matter, I need not seek approval from the tangible, unreliable flesh of the materialistic realm.

Pastor Phil from the Church of Southland spoke from, Phillipians 3:1-11. However, Phillipians 3:7-11 resonated with me the most,

But whatever gain I had, I counted as loss for the sake of Christ. Indeed, I count everything as loss of the surpassing worth of knowing Christ Jesus my Lord. For His sake I have suffered the loss of all things and count them as rubbish, in order that I may gain Christ and be found in Him, not having a righteousness of my own that comes from the law, but that which comes through faith in Christ, the righteousness from God that depends on faith – that I may know Him and the power of His resurrection, and may share His sufferings, becoming like Him in death, that by any means possible I may attain the resurrection from the dead.

As a Christian, I am so eager to know the resurrection, but I need to be willing to die for the Lord, so He may be able to resurrect me and show me my real duty as His child. The sermon made me realize that I need to experience the pain that Jesus suffered when He laid down His life at the cross. I feel that God is calling me as His follower, His child, His disciple of nations; I need to lay down whatever my baggage is down at His feet and let Him take control of me. No burden is too much for the Lord. Because of that I know I can give it all to Him, where I may find peace and I get better. I know I can improve myself, I won’t be stagnant in my growth, and I take action for the One who gave His all for us. I recognize that as people of this earth, we should not be dependent and have confidence in the flesh. Trusting in the flesh will not heal the brokenness that dwells in our hearts; the only thing, the only entity that could initiate the inner healing is the Heavenly Father, Our Lord Almighty. I feel God promising me true riches that the materialistic realm cannot ensure forever, and I won’t be disappointed if I continue to persevere in knowing Him.

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I came to retreat with no expectations, but with an open mind and an open heart, ready and eager to receive from the Lord. God has consistently given me a vision since the beginning of the school year: a large, yellow field and a blue lake, the sky clearer than 20/20 vision, and a crisp wind that signifies God’s strong presence. After the three hour drive up the mountain, I saw outside of the cabin the field and lake that God showed me and all I could do was cry. It was a sign of renewal, God’s persistence, a new chapter of my life. Even though I have been stranded in the trenches of the valley, God relentlessly told me that it was time to run up the mountain top with full force and to never look back. God will heal my brokenness, all I need to do is let go and surrender to the King of Kings. When my brothers and sister laid their hands on me during prayer, I cried the hardest I have ever cried and ended up losing my voice. What better way to lose control over your body and voice, just to give it all to the Lord. In a symbolic and a mind-boggling way, I think me losing my voice is allowing God to enter my soul, my veins to articulate His words to the world, not my own.

I am not sure where God is going to take me in life, but I know that no matter what path I walk on, God is with me, my brothers and sisters are pushing me up the mountain top, to see the cross, to see the face of God. Because, without Christ, what is the purpose of my life? Because of Christ, I will be healed. Because of Christ, I am ready to look up to the sky and run as fast as I can to be at the mountain top.