“I have the strength for everything through him who empowers me.” Phil 4:13
Climbing a mountain peak, doing 40 pushups and other daily workouts, listening in silent prayer, going white water rafting, and memorizing Scripture were all a part of a unique retreat that Anna recently experienced while she was at Rocky Mountain National Park.
"The retreat was for high schoolers and it was designed to engage us in spiritual and physical exercises to help us grow in our faith. It pushed us to overcome fears and to trust in God as we face challenges in life,” said Anna.
Anna explained how she and her fellow squad members met each week for 13 weeks prior to leaving on the trip.
“We had a whole training program set up for us to get in shape for the trip. We did some exercises by ourselves, and we would get together weekly to hike. During each hike, we would pray, learn about different aspects of our faith and work on memorizing Scripture verses.”
“The ironic thing was that before this trip, I didn’t particularly like to exercise. I have never been a sporty type of person, but this forced me to start lifting weights, and work out more to prepare myself. By the time I left for Colorado, I felt more in-shape than ever. It was awesome to see the results of all the hard work and the improvement over time!”
The trip focused on pushing the students to face their fears. While this was difficult, Anna experienced the fruits of challenging herself and leaning on God for his help.
“I struggle a lot with anxiety. Many times over the years, anxieties and worries have kept me from opportunities that would have been really fun if I had actually done them. One of our activities was white water rafting. It was something I was nervous about because I didn’t want to flip off the raft and die! Our squad really helped each other out and it ended up being one of my favorite activities! I had a ton of fun, and I was so glad that I did it!”
“Another difficult aspect of the trip for me was that most of the activities on the trip were kept secret and that caused a lot of stress. I always like to be prepared for things, and I don’t like being kept in the dark. It forced me to let go of wanting control and trust in God.
Anna explained how they spent a lot of time in prayer as they shared their faith and grew in community as a group.
“Throughout the course of the trip, our squad really grew as a team. We not only learned to trust each other, but also to work together and communicate well with each other. I think God really brought our squad together in a way I didn’t know was possible!”
One really meaningful part of the retreat for Anna was the day the group woke very early and hiked to the top of a 12,000+ foot peak.
“The peak hike was a difficult hike to complete, and after breaking the tree line, the combination of altitude and exhaustion started to kick in. As a group, we began to pray the Stations of the Cross. We would pray the first station, and then hike a bit as we contemplated it. As I thought about Jesus carrying the cross and how He fell three times, it really made me realize that my pain from climbing this mountain was nothing compared to what Jesus endured. While my ankles ached from steep, uneven steps, Jesus’ bare feet bled from open wounds while his entire body was beaten and bloodied. It is a very powerful thing to think about and keep in perspective as I go through life.”
Anna explained how the physical and spiritual growth, as well as growing in community, didn’t happen overnight. It took an investment of time, hard work and patience.
"The same is true with our relationship with God. It takes consistent prayer, time and effort. The experience really drove home that when I lean in and trust God, He gives me the strength I need to face the challenges of life.”
What areas of your life do you need to relinquish control and hand over to God? What steps do you need to take to do that?
Has there been a time you have relied on God to help give you strength during a challenging time? How did that feel?
About the Author
Darcie Tallman is a child of God, a daughter of loving parents, a wife to an amazing husband and a mom to four precious souls. She has a passion for prayer, photography and being surrounded by God's beauty. With God's help and guidance, she created Sacred Beauty Prayer Cards, a prayer resource that incoporates photography, Scripture and storytelling.