Riley Bowels, Children & Families Pastor
Hi, I’m Riley, and our 2021 END Zone Retreat was definitely one to remember. Witnessing these kids grow together spiritually and grow as one crazy family was one of the most joyful blessings that God has provided me in my life so far. Whether it was them petting the barn cat Pumpkin for the hundredth time, racing through the haystack maze, or seeing their minds being blown with Mr. Dean’s magic tricks, I could not help but have a smile on my face. Though we went on this retreat to teach them about prayer, I can’t help but feel like they retaught me what it means to be a child of God.
One of my favorite memories of this retreat was seeing the kids working together to do the ropes course. Mr. Dean had several challenges that the kids had to overcome together, and after each task, he had a quick lesson that applied to our lives. They started off with ordering themselves in birth month order on a balancing beam without saying a word, went to balancing a teeter-totter with all of them on it, and then there was the big wall they all had to climb over.
I was at the top of the wall helping them up, but it got to a point where the last END Zoner was stranded since no one was left to help boost them. Though we eventually stopped for a brief lesson on how we can’t face life alone, I couldn’t help but be distracted by this young teenager’s devotion to getting over that wall. You could see it in their eyes that they would have stayed there for hours if that is what it took to get over that wall. In the end, everyone helped the END Zoner get over the wall, and the amount of joy and sense of accomplishment was contagious.
I find myself too often caught up in asking the question “why am I dealing with ____?” and not being thankful that “I am dealing with ___ alongside God.” We can fall into the trap of letting pride get in the way of asking for help and then getting upset with God when we feel alone in our trials.
But even if we allow our pride to separate us from everyone, we will never be separated from God. I pray that I will be able to model this END Zone crew’s ability to set pride aside to let others help me in my spiritual walk and have that drive for the Lord that never quits in the face of adversity.