By: Sarah Kott, Senior and Intern for the Office of Ministry & Service
A few weeks ago, Focus hit the road in three red vans for our annual fall retreat at the Dixon House in Dixon, IL to take a break from our daily lives, get to know each other, and spend some quality time with God. Focus holds such a special place in my heart – not just as a student organization or worship service, but as a beautiful place to be challenged to grow by a loving Christian community. We share the burdens of life with one another and seek to spread the love of God to our campus.
The word retreat typically references “escaping” or “getting away” from the pressures of life. Sure, we leave homework and school responsibilities back at campus, but the purpose of the Focus retreat is to restore and deepen our relationship with God and the Focus community. I remember my first retreat with Focus…it was in the winter and I met many people who would soon become some of my best friends. We plodded through snow in the great outdoors, worshipped, and drank hot chocolate together – is there a better way to bond?
At the winter retreat last year, after I had just returned from studying abroad, my relationship with God was suffering. I neglected all aspects of my faith while abroad and felt that I could coast along without investing time by reading the Bible or praying. I lost sight of the goodness God has poured out on me and I turned inward – which left me in a selfish state of mind.Thankfully, God brought me to John 10:10 at the winter retreat, “The thief comes only to steal and kill and destroy. I came that they may have life and have it abundantly.” God does not want us to simply “get by” (something we can identify with in a trimester system). He wants us to live full lives, glorifying him in the way we interact with others and how faithful we are in our relationship to him.
Since the winter retreat last year, Focus has been a source of constant reminders of God’s grace and love in my life. I am so thankful for friends that challenged me to think more positively in that particularly pessimistic time of my life.
As a senior at the fall retreat, I found myself observing the people around me, soaking in every drop of the last fall Focus retreat of my college career. I love to take a step back and observe in times like this. It allows me to remember the early days of college and be thankful for the changes and trials over these past four years. This retreat in particular made me feel good-old (fellow seniors will understand what I mean).There is a distinct sense of satisfaction in the moment I’m in now and a feeling of preparation for the next step in life. Watching new Focus attendees meet friends and pour into their relationship with the Lord serves as a constant reminder of the way God blesses us daily. Thankfulness spills out of me and I wait with anticipation to see where the Lord will have me go next!
To see the full Focus photo album go: here