Don’t listen to stereotypes about Jr. High youth and preteens, because these kids are amazing!! Seriously, one of my favorite age groups to spend time with is Jr. High. And last weekend, I had the privilege of going away on a three-day retreat with seven of these wonderful, energetic 7th and 8th graders.
Every year, the Missouri District of the Lutheran Church – Missouri Synod puts on a retreat for Jr. High youth at Camp Windermere in Roach, MO. At this year’s spring retreat, almost 500 youth and adult leaders flooded this beautiful camp in an event jam-packed with live music, games, activities, candy, a talent show, and most importantly, worship and studying of the Word of God. Pastor Greg Bearss of Lake Pointe Lutheran Church in Hot Springs, Arkansas led us in four theologically deep and culturally relevant sessions on God’s L.O.V.E.
This is my fifth time taking a group to this retreat and each time I come away with just as much as the youth. This year was no exception. At Sunday morning’s worship service and final Bible study, Pastor Greg’s Spirit-filled message of God’s infinite, unconditional love and grace for each one of us cut me to the heart and had me in tears. I realized how undeserving I am of that love and how much I take God’s grace for granted. And I realized I all too easily overlook the brokenness around me–in my own life and in the lives of others around me. How often I have neglected to care for the “least of these” (Matthew 25:31-46).
The beginning of change starts with the understanding that each of us is simply a trophy of God’s grace.
Pastor Greg challenged us to make that day a game changer. And that is my prayer–that from this day forward, I would be so grateful for God’s undeserved grace in my own life that I can’t help but share it with the broken around me. I want to leave a legacy of Jesus’ love. When someone looks at me, I want to get out of the way so that they see Jesus in me. I want to be first a foremost a trophy of God’s grace.
I’m going to leave you with some pictures of these amazing children of God I got to spend time with this weekend (in no particular order)…