What retreat am I talking about? The one where PhD and Masters students (and those who have received those degrees) gather at Camp Hammer in the Santa Cruz mountains to have a retreat. These students and researchers come from Berkeley, Stanford, UCSC, and (this year) UCSF! Here is a recollection of it from last year.
Henry was on the fence about coming to the grad retreat this weekend, so I told him I’d help give insight about what coming to aforementioned event entails. Here is the email I wrote him, in the form of an essay titled “Why Henry Should Come to the Retreat.” Here it is:
I wish I could say with absolute certainty that if Henry comes to this retreat, he will have this great encounter with God that opens doors, enabling him to live a life worthy of the calling he has received (of which Paul urges us to do in Ephesians 4). I can, however, say that it is likely that an event like this might be the beginning of some sort of awakening in parts of Henry’s spiritual life. It’s not that he *needs* to awaken parts of his life, but why not, if it means you’ll know God more deeply?
The question I have for us researchers is: how are we, Christians, able to search for more answers, solutions, and experiences in our field so relentlessly, and yet, we settle for what we know about God?
I will be candid and tell you what my “mission” feels like: it’s this desire to see what would happen if the most well-educated Christians in the world stewarded their influence with hearts that truly want and love God more than anything else.
The difference between assertive and pushy is that assertive is about making sure the facts are represented clearly. So, the only things I’m at liberty to speak with absolute certainty are as follows:
- if Henry stays home this weekend, it is *more likely* that he will do things that he usually does
- if Henry comes to the retreat, it is likely that something interesting will happen
- if Henry comes, it might be weird, but God honors us when we step out (Hebrews 11 says without faith it is IMPOSSIBLE to please God, we have to (1) believe he exists (2) KNOW that he rewards those who EARNESTLY seek him)
- If Henry is anything like me, then I’m sure there are parts of our lives where God isn’t the priority. I used to feel bad about that, but then I realized that I want to WANT GOD MORE. Maybe that’s the first step to wanting God more, to want to want Him more. Coming to the retreat is an attempt to know God more, or at least differently from what Henry would typically do to know God more.
- I think something to consider is whether, “this is all there is”… if that is the case, then, why bother?… it costs money and effort to come to the retreat. But, if there is more, then why settle for less? I mean, we’re only alive for so long, and each day that goes by as we wait for the next thing to happen is another day that passes where the next thing is waiting for us to do something.
- This could be the beginnings of friendships that can change the world. I mean, it’s not that crazy, we are getting or have PhD’s. How is it that others don’t see this retreat as a gathering of, perhaps, the smartest and most influential Christians in the eyes of the world? My CS background forces me to consider the optimizations and all the possibilities.
- Don’t miss the party. You know that feeling when you hear about some party that you didn’t go to, and all people can talk about are the amazing memories and stories from that party? There is some chance that we are on the brink of some great party. If that’s the case, then we are probably at the planning stage. This retreat is, then, possibly one of the planning events.
- What is life all about? When it’s all over, we’ll want to have been part of something that drew us closer to God. There’re enough world changers in one spot (at the retreat) to build passionate and driven movements that will bring significant purpose to our lives, the movers. Didn’t you ever dream of being part of something, of having a group of crime fighting friends? We could be like the X-Men. If Henry comes, I can introduce him to the other X-Men 🙂
Now, I’m not saying that all this is likely to happen at the retreat. In fact, it probably wont. I tend to see things in end results, and often, I get ahead of myself. It’s actually very simple, we gather, we praise God, we seek intimacy with Him, we step out in faith, and, in partnership with God, we fulfill our purposes and the world becomes more of what it was purposed.
I believe that if we can do a *little bit* of that, that mountains will move in the future, if not now. You don’t want to miss this.
So, it turns out that Henry AND Chris are coming from UCSF. Life doesn’t get better than that!