Update on my retreat. Please read.....

Discussion in 'Spirituality/Worship' started by Lms526, Apr 24, 2007.

  1. Lms526

    Lms526 New Member

    Hello everyone.
    As a few of you know, this past weekend, I attended a time of Spiritual renewal called Walk to Emmaus.
    Going on the Walk to Emmaus involved a MAJOR step of Faith for me. This experience lasted for 72 hours. It started on the evening of April 19 and went through the evening of April 22nd. Going into this I had no idea what to expect. All I knew was that I would be hearing 15 different speakers. 5 by clergy and 10 by laypeople. I alsoknew there would be daily worship and Communion. Also, no alarm clocks,cellphones, beepers, or watches were allowed on the retreat. Going on the Walk to Emmaus meant stepping out of faith and taking a huge step
    out of my comfort zone. But I felt confident that God had called me there and that the timing was right. I had to trust God in a whole other level. I had the sense that this was going to life-changing and challenging. But I had no idea how God was going to speak to me about,or what He was going to do in my life through this experience. But I was ready to find out. To give you a little background, the Walk to Emmaus is a ministry based in Nashville. The movement orginally began in Spain and in the Cathlolic Church. Eventually, it was converted to Wesleyian
    doctrine (United Methodist). To date, over a million people have experienced their own Walk to Emmaus. It is not connected to any particular church.
    Anyone from any demonination is welcome to attend. For my walk, the majority of the people and all of the clergy were Methodist. I was one of only 3 non Methodists. There was one person from a Catholic Church,one person from a Lutheran Church and me. I heard about it from a friend of mine who went last year. She told me about her experience and it sounded like something I definitely wanted to do. Then at the end of March, I saw an article in the local paper describing the Walk to Emmaus. I prayed about it. The article also mentioned a contact person.
    So I contacted her and got more information.

    Going on the Walk to Emmaus has been one of the most meaningful and
    life-changing things I have ever done. The only event that I feel holds
    more significance than this one is when I gave my life to Christ in 2004.

    I would like to share with you some of what I learned. I would also like
    to share with you a few experiences that made a lasting impact on my
    life.

    The first area where I really was challenged and experienced growth in was prayer. As a group, we received letters of support and encouragement
    from other Emmaus groups from across the United States. We received letters from people in Georgia, Florida, Wisconsin, Texas, Mississippi,
    and Ohio. We even received a letter from a Prison in Kentucky. They were in prison, but they took the time to offer encouragement and support to
    us. But we also received letters from Emmaus groups in foreign countries. We received letters from groups in Australia, England, Puerto Rico, Sweden, Norway, South Africa, Estonia and Jamaica. There was also a 72-hour prayer chain. The people on the prayer chain prayed for us by name 24 hours a day for the entire 72 hours. They prayed for us when we registered for the retreat, during the retreat, and will continue to pray for us in the days to come. This is just one of the many ways I experienced God’s love through people.

    I also experienced God’s love through the people who were on the Walk to Emmaus with me. I was completely loved and accepted by the women I roomed with and within my small group. To determine what small group we
    were in, we were assigned a table. All the tables were named for women of the Bible. I happened to end up at the table of Sarah. Every time we were in the conference, we sat at the same table. Those people became your discussion group. I really bonded and connected on a deep level
    with the other women at the time. We were able to share openly and freely. There were A LOT of tears at our table, but there was also a lot of laughter.
    Another area where I was really stretched in my understanding was God’s grace. Before this experience, I could give you kind of a vague definition of grace, and could tell you about times that I’d experienced God’s grace in my life. But somehow, it never really seemed real to me on a deep level. Through the talks, I began to learn about different facets of God’s grace that I never even knew existed. I began to understand more fully and just how incredible, deep, and precious God’s
    grace truly is. I also experienced grace from the women who were sitting around me.

    I would now like to share with you a couple of experiences that were
    particularly powerful and life-changing for me. But first, I need to
    give you a little background information, so please bear with me.

    The talks didn’t start until Friday morning. We heard 5 speakers per day. After each speaker was finished, we would have a moment of quiet reflection, and then we would have a discussion time at our table. Then
    one person from the group would summarize our discussion. The person who did this rotated for each speaker. The only person who didn’t do this
    was the table leader. Many of the table leaders were also lay speakers.After the summary was written, we had time to come up with an artistic expression. It could be either a poem, a song, a skit, or a poster. It
    was our choice. Then when all the speakers for that day were finished,each table presented their summary and described or performed their artistic expression. It was neat to see what everyone else came up with.
    We had some very creative people. Some of them were serious and some of them were funny. Each group went up individually. Friday night, I thought it ran kind of a long. I was very tired by the time all the
    presentations were done. Then they tell us to head to the chapel.Needless to say, I was not a very happy camper. I wanted to go to bed.
    In fact, I was tempted to just sneak off to my cabin on the way to the chapel and just go to bed. But I didn’t. But needless to say, my attitude left much to be desired. The speakers were all amazing, and I learned so much. But there wasn’t anything that was a lightning bolt for
    me.” Once we were in the chapel, a member of the clergy read aloud a prayer called “Examine Your Conscience.” As soon as I heard the title, I knew I was in trouble. My conscience got a major workout. I was convicted by just about every line of that prayer. After the prayer, we
    were told we could go to bed or we could spend time in quiet prayer in the chapel. Members of the clergy were available to talk if you wanted
    to. Since I had no desire to pray that night, I was just going to get up and walk out. I got out of my seat and walked to the door. But then I just stopped. An intense battle started raging in my heat. My flesh was
    telling me that it was pointless to stay. I would not only be wasting my time, but more importantly God’s time. I felt like I should just take my lousy attitude and go to bed. But I sensed God’s Spirit drawing me back into the chapel. So I was standing there trying to decide what to do
    when one of the pastors approached me. She (and yes, I did mean to say she) asked me if I was okay and if I wanted to talk. It had to have been God. The chapel was pretty dark by this time, so I have no idea how she saw that I was struggling. I didn’t quite know how to answer the okay
    question. But I told her I did want to talk. She put her arm around me and led me to the pews on the far back wall of the chapel. She asked me what was going on. I was feeling so frustrated and overwhelmed. I was
    feeling so much pain and so many conflicting emotions. I didn’t even know where to begin. So we just sat there in silence for a while. After maybe 10 minutes in silence, Cathy put her arm around me and prayed for
    me out loud (we were whispering). After that, it was like a dam broke in my heart. Everything I was thinking and feeling just came flooding out.
    I started sobbing my heart out. This went WAY beyond just simple crying.I started sharing with her some of stuff I’ve struggled with for many years. I told her about my longstanding struggle with low-self esteem. I
    also told her that I felt God prompting me to surrender a bunch of stuff to Him. But I had no idea how to do that. I also told her that I felt like I was in bondage in so many areas of my life. I shared a few of the areas with her. I told her I desperately wanted to be free, but here
    again, didn’t know how. I also told Cathy that I felt like there was a huge wall around my heart. A very thick and high wall. I felt like I was on one side of that wall and God and everyone else was on the other
    side. I told her people had tried to break through, but no one had ever really been able to. I told her that I knew and believed on an intellectual level that God loved me. But I had never been able to feel
    and really experience His love for me. Cathy prayed for me again. Then she said something that really struck me. She said “There is a crack in
    that wall. I believe God is going to do something to bring that wall down.” Then she hugged me and told me she loved me. My response was “You don’t even know me. How can you love me?” She just laughed and said “I
    do now. I do love you. And God loves you too.” Then I got up and went to bed. I slept horribly that night. I felt very restless. I just couldn’t
    stop thinking about everything that had happened. I also had a very strong sense that Saturday was going to be my day. I felt that God was going to speak to me that day. I think I got maybe 2 hours of sleep that
    night. But I don’t think it was even that much. I tossed and turned pretty much all night long. During the brief times I did sleep, it was
    not a very deep or restful sleep.

    The following day (Saturday) I was talking with one my roommates Jean.After lunch, we had a longer break. We could go to our cabins or do
    whatever. Since none of us had the ability to tell time, they rang a bell to let us know when we needed to report somewhere. I ended up sharing some of what had happened the night before with Jean. She looked me in the eye and said “There’s a crack in that wall. I believe God is
    going to bring that wall around your heart down.” That really freaked me out. She used the exact same words the pastor had the night before. I knew then that it was God speaking to me.

    Later that day, the pastor I had talked to Friday night gave an amazing talk. But then she ended pretty abruptly and said we were going to the chapel. Once there, she gave us instructions. On the alter, there was a
    loaf of bread, a basket and a box of sheets of wax paper. She told us to one at a time go up to the alter, use the wax paper to tear off a piece
    of bread. We were then to lift up the piece of bread and confess out loud something we needed to surrender to God. Then we were supposed to put the chunk of bread in the basket. The bread in the basket would then
    be used for Communion. The presence of God was so strong during that time. You could tell that God was really working on people’s hearts. I
    was really wrestling with what I needed to surrender. I finally decided to say I was surrendering 3 things: Pride, fear, and unforgiveness. It
    was really neat. There were some people who I couldn’t hear what they were surrendering. But the people I could hear were also things that I also needed surrender. So after the person surrendered it, I surrendered it
    also. I must have surrendered at least 20 things by the time I was done,
    possible more. After this experience, I felt like an incredibly heavy weight had lifted off my heart. I felt free and at peace. For the first
    time in my life, I felt comfortable in my own skin. I also experienced deliverance. One of the most powerful areas of deliverance was in the area of fear. As most of you know, fear has been a major part of my life for many years. There are many examples I could give, but one area that
    really sticks out to me is public speaking. I used to be petrified to do public speaking. I was able to fake it really well. I could look
    perfectly calm on the outside,but I knew about my white-knuckling the
    podium and the shaking knees. Public speaking is something I have always dreaded. At the end of the Walk to Emmaus all the participates had to
    get up in front of the group and give a brief testimony. We had to answer 2 questions “What has the Walk meant to me?” And what do I intend
    to do next?” I can tell you honestly. When I got up to the podium to do that, I felt perfectly calm. I didn’t feel at all afraid.

    It was an incredible time of healing and restoration. I also felt that
    wall around my heart fall. I know this was so much more than just an
    emotional experience. I have experienced more healing and deliverance than I ever dreamed or thought was possible. Saturday at supper, Cathy
    (the pastor I talked to Friday night) ended up sitting next to me. I asked her if I could briefly talk with her after dinner. I just thanked
    her for what she had done for me and told her what had had happened earlier that day. She gave me some great advice. She said “You need to
    surrender to God daily. Those things will try to come back. When they do simply tell yourself “I don’t need to carry that burden anymore. I’ve already surrendered it to God.”

    I also used to have major issues with crying. I rarely
    allowed myself the luxury of crying. If I did, I usually made every
    effort to make sure no one else could see me cry. If I wasn’t able to do
    that, I felt an incredible amount of guilt and shame. I felt like crying
    made me weak and that good Christians didn’t cry. I didn’t think that
    about other people, but just myself. That experience in the chapel was accompanied by many, many, tears. The tears continued pretty much all
    day Saturday. I know I wasn’t the only one. I no longer felt ashamed of my tears. I didn’t even try to hold them back. I seriously think I had
    about 20 years of pent-up tears that came out. They start out as tears of intense frustration and pain. But they soon turned into tears of restoration, healing, and joy. As if that wasn’t enough, for the first
    time in my life, I was able to feel and receive the love of God and other people. That is something I struggled with for years. My heart was
    filled to overflowing. I once heard someone say (I don’t remember who)“When the heart is filled to overflowing, it spills out your eyes". That
    was definitely true for me. I can never remember a time when I have
    cried so much. I no longer doubt or question whether or not God loves
    me. That is something I questioned for years. That is one question that always caused me a great deal of pain. But I never spoke it aloud, not even to God. “If God loves me so much, then why can’t I feel His love?”
    I now have a much deeper understanding of how much God loves me. I don’t think, I know that He loves me and accepts me unconditionally.

    God met me where I was at. He let me know that He was with me in the midst of my hurt, confusion, frustration and fear. He revealed His love for me in tangible ways and in intangible ways. I slept wonderfully
    Saturday night. I felt totally at peace. Something woke me up Sunday
    morning. I was half asleep, so I didn’t realize what it was at first.
    Once I woke up a little more, I realized that what had woken me up was
    tears running down my face. I had been crying in my sleep. I think I must have been dreaming about what had happened on Saturday. But I don’t
    remember. That was something I had never experienced before.

    I have one more thing I would like to share with you. Before I left on the “Walk to Emmaus” I sent out a couple of support letters. I prayed
    for the words to write. I was asking for financial support yes, but I also wanted prayer support. I know many of you didn’t receive that
    letter. But I came up with a list of 7 specific things I wanted prayer
    for. Here they are
    • Pray that I would attend the retreat with a teachable spirit and
    a open mind and heart.
    • Pray that I would hear from God in a real and powerful way and
    that I would be open to whatever He wishes to say to me.
    • Pray that this experience would help me develop a deeper level
    of faith, trust, and intimacy with God and other believers.
    • Pray that I would experience deliverance.
    • Pray that I would grow in my faith.
    • Pray that I would not be hindered by fear in any way.
    • Pray that I would not be distracted and able to focus 100% of my
    attention on God.

    As I was gathering my stuff together on Sunday, something occurred to
    me. It suddenly hit that over the course of the weekend God had answered every single one of those prayer requests. I was humbled once again. It
    was just one more example of God’s incredible love for me.

    I truly feel that my faith has been stretched and that my comfort zone has expanded. I feel that this is just the first of many steps of faithGod will lead me to take. At this point, I have no idea what the next
    step is. If you could PLEASE keep me in prayer about this, I would very much appreciate it. Thank you.

    I know this got pretty long, but I hope that you were blessed and
    encouraged by what I have written here. There are so many other things I could share. What an incredible weekend! As one of the girls at my table
    was fond of saying, “Go God!”

    May the Love, Mercy, and Grace of God through Christ Jesus our Lord be
    with you all!

    Blessings!
    Lms526

    [This Message was Edited on 04/24/2007]
    [This Message was Edited on 04/24/2007]
  2. fromnz

    fromnz Guest

    Hi Lms,
    Thank you for sharing your testimony, it was really neat to hear once again how wonderful our God is. I was really touched by your story, & pray that the glow & peace of the retreat will remain with you.
    Hold onto every blessing, Satan does his darndest to take it away after something like that, so be prepared for attacks!
    God Bless.
    Linda.
  3. 143alan

    143alan New Member

    I'm so glad that you had such a wonderful experience. I remembered praying for you when you were struggling about whether to go or not. I'm so glad you did and then shared your experiences with us. Reading what you did was so uplifting to me. I pray the glow of peace you felt in your heart and the fire you felt stir in your spirit both continue as you walk with God.

    Thanks so much for sharing your experience.
    Nancy
  4. windblade

    windblade Active Member

    What an extraordinary experience! So many parts of your life were touched and transformed! I praise God for all the good he did for you and all others at this retreat.

    It will be so exciting to see how you keep growing, now that such a huge wall has come down. I loved reading this.

    I also have enjoyed reading all of your responses on the Bible Study thread.

    May Our Lord Bless and Keep you,
    Love, Judy